#Recognize: Twanna Hodge, MLIS

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Twanna earned her degree from the University of Washington. She is an Academic/Research Librarian at the SUNY Upstate Medical University Health Library, where she acts as the liaison to the College of Graduate Studies. She is also the diversity fellowship coordinator.

Share a book that you’re currently reading, have recently read, or would like to read.

Pushing the Margins Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS Edited by Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho and Diversity and Inclusion in Libraries edited by Shannon D. Jones and Beverly Murphy.

Describe a current project or idea that you’re working on or have recently completed.

I am writing a book chapter.

Finish this sentence: “One way the LIS profession can improve or progress is…”

…how diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are addressed, taught, implemented, practiced, sustained, and woven in the fabric of our profession. It is systematically and intentionally acknowledging whiteness, white supremacy, colonialism, racism, and more  — along with the dismantlement of them; moreover, understanding that as a profession, we are not above reproach, critique, or sacred, and that our biases affect us being able to provide accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

Share a career decision. What did you learn about yourself in terms of your career?

That I am ready for librarianship, but librarianship may not be ready for me. Also, that my career isn’t my life. That I should be living for myself, not just living for my career. That a balance and boundaries need to be struck and maintained at all costs.

What music/artist/song are you currently into?

Soca, Reggae, Dancehall, R&B, Alternative, Evanescence, Paramore, NF, Lizzo and many more.

Presentation Redux: Low Morale in Public Librarians

LIBRIS Prezi

Earlier this year, LIBRIS held their annual conference in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and it was the first time I presented some emerging data from my third low-morale study, which focuses on public librarians. 

After reviewing the findings of the original low morale study, I delved into some aspects of the more recent public librarian project.  When looking quantitatively, public librarians confirm that the top trigger for low morale is administrative/managerial incompetence; additionally, changes in library administration also are a big cause of low morale for this group.

A majority of the participants have faced verbal abuse and system abuse; and over half also indicated that increased workloads play a role in their experiences.

Looking more closely at types of abuse and abusers, public librarians are heavily exposed to verbal abuse from patrons and are most likely to experience emotional and system abuse from their supervisors and/or library administrators. they are also likely to experience emotional or verbal abuse from their co-workers.

Public librarians’ most popular mitigation methods for reducing workplace abuse/neglect job seeking; popular coping strategies include talking with others and seeking counseling. 

Personal safety, mission creep, staffing, and policy implementation issues are a few of the concerns or contexts that aid the development of low morale in public libraries. Career/environment preparedness, LIS education gaps, and arbitrary aspects of daily work-life and employment requirements also seem to play into the proliferation of workplace abuse/neglect in public library workplaces.

These findings will be solidified (or further contextualized) during expanded data analysis. Please visit my Renewals blog to learn more about the development and final outcomes of this study. 

#hurrayoftheday: 47

Yesterday I received a spectacularly encouraging note from a former student of my low morale course. It reads, in part:

 I took your online class earlier this year and it really helped me clarify and categorize situations happening in my job, and strive for some positive change in selected ways while working on an exit strategy. [I recently left my job after a significant instance of abuse]…[I monitor my health often] and am elated to see steady improvement. I sleep well. I’m spending time with friends and family and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. What a great time of year to be celebrating the end of my LME (low-morale experience)!

I really credit the resources and community you’ve provided with helping me get to this point. It’s important and impactful work. Thank you so much. – K.W.

#Recognize: Derrick Jefferson, MLIS

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Derrick earned his degree in 2012 from Louisiana State University’s School of Library & Information Science. Currently, he is Associate Librarian at American University (AU), where he focuses on research and instruction. He is also is a subject specialist and is the liaison to AU’s School of Communication.

If you are a creator/maker, what do you make, and how does that creativity help or inspire your library practice?

At my organization, I’m very lucky that I’ve been supported not only as a librarian, but also in my pursuing  another master’s degree in Creative Writing. AU has an excellent program and I’m having some success in getting my work published – and I’m also working with the best faculty and fellow colleagues in the Literature department.

Because of how the university looks at scholarship  (my opening up my research, which has primarily been looking at equity, diversity, and inclusion [EDI] issues in higher education and mentoring new librarians of color), I’ve expanded that to also include my creative work. EDI work is very important to me as a queer librarian of color, and I think a lot about identity — both our own in how we put ourselves out there to the world — and in how we are received and are then congruent.  I also explore a lot of identity issues in my creative work. So, even though it may not seem like it on a surface level, a lot of these things overlap and mash up against one another and sully and stain the other while also supporting it. It’s a very beautiful ugly thing, if that makes sense — and it keeps me really pushing and pulling both sides of the brain.

Share a career decision. What did you learn about yourself in terms of your career?

I came to librarianship later in life. I already had a master’s degree in Film and was working in Los Angeles as a graduate advisor at the art school where I went to grad school. I was also freelancing and writing and doing other things on the side. So, by the time I went back to school for library science, I was thirty-seven years old. I think what really helped me out was that I’d already had a life, had achieved things, failed at other things, been disappointed, taken risks, experienced highs, had my heart broken, established credit, and knew that I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do, if I didn’t want to do it.

I learned a lot in my MLIS program, being in post-Katrina New Orleans, working at a half dozen different libraries and thrown into library instruction my very first semester without a lot of resources. You are forced to learn quickly, get creative, and for me, I think a lot of that came from having to be savvy in life, in film, working as a producer, and being flexible at a moment’s notice. Summarily, I think what prepared me to be a good librarian was the opportunity to be in and of the world, engaged in things that had nothing to do with librarianship, being able to think critically, and understanding concepts about the larger world that now, I can apply to other things, including in my work as a librarian.

Share a useful tool or application that you use in your work or non-work life.

I never in a million years thought I would come to be so dependent on the Notes app on my phone, but hoo boy, I love that joker so much. I use it a lot, and even though the old-school, pencil-and-pad-vintage-throwback person that I am also utilizes those tools, I love how a thought can be quickly tapped into a note, saved to the cloud, and is instantly synced across my various workspaces and platforms.

While I’m waiting for the bus, or for my number to be called at the deli, or in between appointments, I have so many quick blips of nascent, still-to-be-fully-formed-or-investigated nuggets that I’ve come to rely on. Much of my use is for my creative writing, and I have a very long list of potential names for characters that really grounds me when I’m developing a character. There’s another note including little snatches of plot or events that a story could be based around, and another of a timeline of the classes I need to complete to finish my degree…but there’s also stuff for my work as chair of the ACRL EDI Committee, thoughts on the upcoming ALA Midwinter Conference, chord progressions from songs I’m interested in learning more of the theory behind, recipes…lots of recipes as I love to cook, comic books or zines I want to know more about, records I want to buy. It’s an unwieldy trove of information, but it’s *my* unwieldy trove of information.

Describe a current project or idea that you’re working on or have recently completed.

I am so excited that I just signed on to work with D-Craft, which is a project for digital libraries. They’re creating a toolkit for essentially best practices for reuse, and in my consulting role, I’ll be examining and assessing how to incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion into these best practices. I’m looking forward to taking my EDI work and applying it to a different (at least for me) context.

I’m aware of digital libraries and repositories, but haven’t had much involvement with them professionally. The team received an Institute of Museum of Library Services (IMLS) grant, and my library science education was funded by an IMLS grant, so part of me feels indebted to the organization and this is just a small token of my appreciation, being able to pay it forward.

Finish this sentence: “A challenge that I face as a librarian of color is…”

…in no means a burden, obstacle, or something that defines me.”

I am very aware of my Blackness and my queerness, in addition to my other intersecting identities, and as someone who looks at EDI and identity issues, I think about these things a lot, maybe sometimes even to a fault. But in thinking specifically about race, I find it hard to really get so entangled in foolishness, gaslighting, or shenanigans. My color is a joy. I come from this lineage of African-Americans who have endured so much so that I could be here today and that isn’t something that’s taken lightly. But when you talk about race, you are inevitably also talking about power. So, when one sits down and thinks about racism, its construction, and its total nonsensical practice and application; that there are people who lean into these manufactured prisms of looking at people through this lens that ultimately puts them at an advantage, makes them more powerful, makes their standards of what’s right, what’s beautiful, what’s appropriate; when you see people who rely and fall back on this warping of fact as a defense mechanism, as a way to justify why they are better and I am allegedly worse, I’ve already lost interest. I don’t have time to fight or argue when I already know, very simply, that I’m right.

Racism is a malignancy that causes great harm, but what can you say to someone who, no matter what you do or disprove, or show to be lacking or ineffectual or flat-out wrong, is always going to feel contrary? That’s their problem, not mine. It is such a waste of time to try and deal with people informed by that toxicity and I just won’t do it.

So, are there challenges? Of course — but I also know that these issues are bigger than libraries or the profession, and I also know that I’m generous and kind and smart and funny, and I enjoy my life immensely. I can’t be invested in any kind of service to or engaged with people, concepts, or ideologies that aren’t worthy of my attention, and so I’m not. I hope my fellow librarians of color know how important it is to be selective in how they also face the challenges we encounter – as well as looking out for and supporting each other.

 

 

#hurrayoftheday: 46

Renewal Workshop NCLA Pic1

Today at the North Carolina Library Association Conference in Winston-Salem, I hosted my first Renewal Workshop, which was sponsored by the NCLA Roundtable for Racial and Ethnic Minority Concerns (REMCo). Thanks to Jewel Davis and NCLA. The attendees who joined me today were engaged. I am honored by their courage to share their experiences and inspired by their willingness to promote the reduction and/or eradication of abuse and neglect in library workplaces.

 

#CurrentlyReading

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I am grateful to never have been held captive by my body in the way that Dr. Okorafor was; however, these days I do feel trapped/stuck. As such, the following passage really struck me – Dr. Okorafor remembers and summarizes willing a body part of hers to move, making promises and wooing it, and remembering,

This was my Kill Bill moment. In Kill Bill: Volume 1, the revenge-driven assassin Beatrix Kiddo has to awaken her atrophied legs after being in a coma for four years. She sits in the back seat of a small truck and while looking at her feet calmly recites over and over, “Wiggle your big toe.” In a story about taking revenge against everyone who wronged her,this is a rare instance where Beatrix can’t use her physical strength and has to instead consult her mental and spiritual abilities to go on.” (p. 50)

 

 

Today’s Video

English lyrics below (courtesy of Lyrics Translate)

Smokey Heart

My beautiful woman
Come to me
Give me back my stopped time and heart
But my life is already yours
I made all of my significance into you
I can barely breathe until
I can find you again
There’s no time to waste, the flames thickly rise
Burning my smoky heart
The heat of the long 24 hours
Make my burnt heart ache
Fall down
Wet my heart
If only I could feel you through the rain that falls
From the sky
Down down down, I pray that
It falls
Make her fall today
Let me take one sip of her
Let just one sip of her fall down
Drench me just a little no
I need to fill my eyes with you
I need to fill my arms with you
This thirst is you
You know
You spread all over my body and I can’t escape
So where are you leaving me?
It’s too late to fix me
There’s no time to waste,
The scent is fading, the eyes are disappearing
Even though I block it with my entire body but it keeps burning
And my heart grows anxious
Fall down
Wet my heart
If only I could feel you through the rain that falls
From the sky
Down down down, I pray that
It falls
Make her fall today
Let me take one sip of her
Let just one sip of her fall down
Today, today, just one sip of her
Today, today, today, she is like my life
Come back to my side, today
Come back to my side, today
Wet my heart

 

Who is TVXQ?

#Recognize: Jeannie Chen, MLIS

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Jeannie graduated in 2018 from the UCLA MLIS Program, with emphases in academic librarianship, archival studies, literature, music and the performing arts, and Asian American Studies. She was a recipient of the 2016-17 ALA Spectrum Scholarship, the 2017 SAA Josephine Forman Scholarship, and selected to participate in the 2017-19 ARL Kaleidoscope Program (formerly the Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce, IRDW). In the upcoming 2019-20 academic year, Jeannie will be working as a teaching aide in the UCLA Global Classroom Program at Jinling High School (金陵中学) in Nanjing, China. She will guide high school students through academic reading, writing and presentation, as well as critical thinking and analysis as they complete credit-bearing UCLA courses in the humanities and social sciences.

Share a useful tool or application that you use in your work or non-work life.

Since graduating from the UCLA MLIS Program, I’ve found comfort and solace in the Los Angeles Public Library services, and have been reading considerably more in non-fiction, memoir, and adult fiction genres. I use my library card to request and check out both books and films that have long been on my list (but were put on hold due to the demands of grad school), and the Goodreads website and app to set challenges for myself and keep track of all my to-reads.

“A challenge I face as a librarian of color is…”

…better understanding where my priorities lie in terms of time and energy investments. I continue to meet many students entering or just beginning library school, at conferences, events and through referrals in my professional network, [and I wonder] ‘How much information is too much to share, and which experiences can be the most helpful to them?’ Every time I meet another librarian/archivist of color (in-training or just entering the profession), I think about the ways in which our mutual experiences can resonate and build momentum, most importantly to help us survive and overcome difficult circumstances.

I hope to be as kind, wise, and understanding as the mentors who have helped me throughout my college and graduate school years. Peer support and mentorship is also an avenue I want to explore throughout my career, because I have seen the benefits of maintaining connections to the wonderful friends & colleagues I met through programs such as the Association of Research Libraries Kaleidoscope Program (2017-19).

Prioritizing my time and energy has been a consistent struggle, especially when it comes to participating in and reflecting upon both the ground-level and big-picture developments in diversity, equity and inclusivity programs/initiatives. It can be a lot to process for one person, so I hope being proactive and applying my skills in coordination and organization can invigorate and continue to nurture the professional networks I am part of. Spending time in a different country can also help me formulate different expressions and perspectives regarding critical issues and concepts in LIS, now and into the future.

What music/artist/song are you currently into?

I recently went to a summer evening concert featuring ABBA‘s music at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and have been getting into the history of the group due to a recent visit to Sweden. Although it was not my usual genre, I found the energy of the audience and general atmosphere infectious; it was like a shot of happiness in what has been a relatively calm and peaceful summer.

Share a career decision. What did you learn about yourself in terms of your career?

Making the decision to work abroad in China for one year was a decision that was both daunting and yet made sense for where I am now in my career. Since graduating from UCLA with my MLIS, I realized that I needed to challenge myself in order to gain a sense of meaning and purpose in life. I like to go beyond my comfort zone and dwell within unfamiliar environments. Staying for too long in one place contributes to a sense of complacency and a narrow world perspective, whereas performing a ‘strategic uprooting’ once in a while shows me where my limits are and helps me expand them. Like pruning a rosebush to spur growth in the spring or upending a Lego creation onto the floor to explore new design possibilities, change can be a messy – but ultimately rewarding – process. I consider Nanjing to be my hometown, so I have the added benefit of having relatives in the area. Moreover, I see this as an opportunity to gain valuable instructional experience and better understand the perspectives of the high school students in the classrooms at Jinling.

Share a book that you’re currently reading, have recently read, or would like to read.

The book I’m currently reading is Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, an author whose life story holds certain parallels to what my mother experienced growing up as a young girl during the Cultural Revolution. I want to better understand and empathize more deeply with my grandmother’s and mother’s experiences. The incredibly challenging hardships they went through are difficult to imagine in the context of my own life. As I live and work in Nanjing this coming year, I plan to spend weekends visiting my grandmother, taking courses to improve my grasp of Chinese, and exploring my family’s roots.