Discussion on Otherness in Libraries

May 3, 2012 - 3:30 pm

room 3083
Main Library

To raise awareness of race, gender, class issues in SLIS, a discussion will be held during the last session of Social Informatics. While we tend to think of these as patron issues, they are often librarian issues as well. Discussing these topics in an atmosphere of respect can help us create inclusive work and public spaces. The following questions are intended for your reflection.

In SLIS, we often talk about reaching out to different patron bases in our communities, but we rarely discuss what it is to be a librarian and a member of an “other” community. How attitudes toward immigrant status, social class, race, gender, and sexual orientation shape professional conduct toward colleagues are unexamined. How can we, as librarians, create a culture of inclusion for both patrons and librarians?

How do I react in class when people discuss the privacy rights of GLBTQ youth as if there are not GLBTQ people in the room?

What do we say to librarians who tell us they won’t buy books with people of color on the front, as their patrons won’t read them?

How can I discuss my experiences with homelessness, poverty, or immigrant status as a librarian without becoming “the” representative for the homeless, the poor, or immigrants?

When we discuss patrons, why do we not think of us as them?

On Thursday, May 3rd, André Brock and Elizabeth Holdsworth invite students to discuss “Sh!t Librarians Say to ‘Other’ Librarians”. The session will start at 3:30pm during the final class of Social Informatics. There will be cookies.

On Monday, there will be an envelope in the office in which you can anonymously submit your story of being “othered”. The stories will be read at the beginning of the session. The experience does not have to be specific to this department or classes; it can be your work as a librarian, time as a patron, or other incidents. If you feel comfortable, stories can also be emailed to elizabeth-holdsworth@uiowa.edu. Your name will not be used.