“Say it loud, say it clear. Library patrons are welcomed here.” by Dannae Miller

Libraries are a place where people come together. They are gathering spaces, hang out spots, safe places, and fun areas. Many things take place in a library on any given day. The one thing that all libraries have in common is that they all provide access to information. Right now our country is going through a very new, and sometimes trying time. One of the most common motifs we see in today’s news are protests. Protests and libraries have a very long and complicated history, and chances are, a few of your patrons have been involved in a protest or two. I think a service that all libraries can offer is information on how to protest safely.  A very simple and easy way to do this would to be to put together a display board of simple tips and tricks with a few simple steps on how people can stay safe while protesting. Here are a few bits of information that can be incorporated into a visual display with the following information:

Know Your Rights

It is important for your patrons to know that they have certain rights when they are at a protest. Along with their First Amendment right to protest, they are allowed to demonstrate in public forums such as streets, sidewalks and parks as long as they are not blocking traffic. Permit are not required to protest in response to a recent event. Protesters are also allowed to distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks without a permit. Photographing and videotaping police officers is also within their rights.

Make A Plan

Protestors should not go to a demonstration unprepared. A few helpful tips for making a plan include carrying your ID and any medication you may need. Identification is important in case your patrons get detained, and it makes it easier to prove that they are who they say they are. They should also bring any medication they may need just in case of a medical emergency because it’s better to be over prepared than to be under prepared. Another really important item to bring to a protest is one so common that many people often overlook it: a physical map. Libraries can further help this by providing free maps to their patrons, or durable ones that are able to circulate. Maps not only help with being oriented, but they also help patrons make a better plan on where they should go when protesting and on where to meet up in case they get separated from their protest groups.

Take Care of Yourself and Those Around You

Libraries are all about service. Reminding our patrons to go above and beyond their duty is just another perk of the job, and showing them ways they can take care of themselves and others while out protesting is helpful to all parties involved. Packing a first aid kit and a water bottle when going to a protest (or any other event) is smart. The library can encourage this by hosting a “Make Your Own First Aid Kit” program for adults and children alike. Protests can sometimes turn into sticky situations so it’s very helpful to remind your patrons to prepare for anything, including injuries and staying hydrated.

Putting all of these tips and tricks on a nice display board is a quick way to be helpful to your patrons who may be involved in more hands on activism. There are so many protests happening around the country currently that it is almost a disservice to not teach people how to act and stay safe at them. Our librarian users come from all walks of life, and our job is to provide service to those who will use them. If only one of our patron’s benefits from this information, then I would call that a success. Other options that could supplement this visual display board could be a list of books users can check out if they want more scholarly knowledge on the subject. I would recommend A people’s history of riots, protest and the law: the sound of the crowd by Matt Clement and 33 revolutions per minute: a history of protest songs, from Billie Holiday to Greenday by Dorian Lynskey. And of course, all other ideas are welcome, please feel free to mention them in the comments. And remember to stay safe out there!

Citations

S. (2017, September 15). DIY Dollar Store First Aid Kit. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://preparednessmama.com/diy-dollar-store-first-aid-kit/

Know Your Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://aclu-co.org/know-your-rights/Know Your Rights: Demonstration and Protests [Pamphlet]. (2016). ACLU.

Protect your protest. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://right-to-protest.org/protect-your-protest/

Warner, C. (2017, September 11). How To Stay Safe At A Protest By Planning Ahead. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-stay-safe-at-a-protest-by-planning-ahead-76212

 

Colorblindness, Microaggressions, and Racism: The Internal Effects Ignorance has on the Social Justice Movement in Libraries by Janette Ruiz

When examining the role of social justice in library science, a librarian must understand the social responsibility that is bestowed upon his or her role. Often, librarians and library workers with social privilege mistakenly act as though social justice only applies to community patrons. Unfortunately, social justice issues are not exclusively limited to the society that library science aims to educate. Librarians are often considered advocates for less privileged individuals, yet librarians forget to remain vigilant for one other cause closer to home: the obstacles endured by librarians of color within the field. These obstacles can come in the form of microaggressions from coworkers and/or patrons, added difficulty in achieving tenure, or simply a sense of loneliness resulting in lack of mentorship. As the new generation of library professionals enters into the field, it is our responsibility to recognize the signs of social injustice towards our peers and patrons, and to act against those injustices. Only with the support of all librarians can we move to secure a progressive path forward.

The first step in fighting for social injustice is for a librarian to first acknowledge their own privilege. The majority of the library science field are white women, and the abundance of privilege (unrealized or unsympathetic) can cause a general discomfort and awkwardness around the social justice topic. As Collins and Jun (2017) address in White out: Understanding white privilege and dominance in the modern age, white privilege is equal to a virus. “Whitefluenza” is as dangerous as explicit acts of racism in that the carrier is often unaware of the virus they are spread. Collins notes the “weaker strands of the virus are a key defender in maintaining White dominance. Inability to see the virus supports its survival and prevents inoculation in the form of recognition and consciousness” (p. 34).

Failure to recognize one’s privilege (whether accidental or deliberate) not only aids “explicit racism,” but also help to keep institutional racism in the library science field. Damasco and Hodges noted in “Tenure and promotion experiences of academic librarians of color,” a 2012 survey study, that 66.7% of minority academic librarians did not feel fairly evaluated by superiors and less than half indicated their opinions were openly valued in regards to decisions about their libraries (p. 296). Other minority librarians in this survey expressed discouragement from colleagues when presenting research projects focusing on social justice, leading Damasco and Hodges to conclude that librarians of color “might not have safe venues to share their opinions” (p. 300). The reluctance from other librarians to address racial issue may be found in the notion of “colorblindness” or “neutrality.” Cooke and Minarik’s “Linking LIS graduate study and social identity as a social justice issue: Preparing students for critically conscious practice” (2016) notes that some may choose to completely ignore race, or be colorblind, with the hope that racism will disappear if race is ignored (p. 185). Jensen’s “The Myth of the Neutral Professional” (2008) echoes the words of Horton and Tutu in stating the neutrality does not relieve one’s accountability for the hateful actions of others (p. 91). Regrettably, invoking claims to colorblindness or neutrality in situations when assistance is needed simply piles on the number of microaggressions against a person of color rather than providing relief to the racial issue.

A separate survey conducted in “Racial microaggressions in academic libraries: Results of a survey of minority and non-minority librarians,” Alabi (2015) surveyed 185 librarians, both minority and non-minority, about microaggressions and racism in the libraries. The survey not only recorded the number of racial grievances librarians of color experience, but also the response and observations of their non-minority counterparts. In addition to confirming that non-minority employees hold a larger amount of leadership positions, Alabi found that non-minority librarians observed or reported a significantly lower amount of microaggressions towards minority colleagues (p. 50). Additionally, Alabi observed:

Minority academic librarians are also more likely to perceived racial microaggressions directed toward colleagues. However, non-minority librarians are unlikely to report observing racial microaggressions. This suggests that the disconnect between perceptions of minority and non-minority librarians . . . persists. (p. 52)

An important question raised by Damasco, Hodges, and Alabi’s findings is whether a field that is predominately white and unsympathetic towards workers in the field can cater service to the diverse needs of a community?

As Morales, Knowles, and Bourg (2014) indicate in “Diversity, social justice, and the future of libraries,” librarians will refer back to the ALA Core Values for guidance. As librarians, our social responsibility is to uphold diversity, therefore “[s]ocial responsibility is likewise one of the core values of librarianship” (Morales et al., p. 439). Though the ALA is clear on their stance on diversity and a librarian’s position of social responsibility can be assumed from the ALA core values, a disconnect remains between a non-minority librarian’s support for the rights of minority patrons, but not for fellow librarians. According to Gustina and Guinnee’s “Why social justice in the library?” (2017), librarians around the country are becoming more vocal about social justice issues and the “radical inclusivity movement” noting, “privilege or lack thereof can directly impact [an individual’s] ability to access the services a library provides if the library doesn’t take purposeful action to design services” (pp. 52-53). Yet as Morales stresses, inclusivity in libraries must first begin with the employees:

“[L]ibrary leaders must also acknowledge the ways in which library practices frequently contribute to inequity, marginalization, and injustices; and commit to transforming our practices and standards in ways that leverage the power, expertise, and responsibility of academic librarians and libraries as forces for social justice” (Morales et al., 2014, p. 448).

Our task as the new generation of library professionals is to consider the topics that can often seem uncomfortable and act as a champion for social justice. In doing so, librarians of color and privileged librarians must work together to raise awareness and conversation about current our racial issues.

References

Alabi, J. (2015). Racial microaggressions in academic libraries: Results of a survey of minority and non-minority librarians. The Journal of academic librarianship, 41(1), 47-53. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2014.10.008

Collins, C. S., & Jun, A. (2017). White out: Understanding white privilege and dominance in the modern age. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. New York.

Cooke, N. A., & Minarik, J. D. (2016). Linking LIS graduate study and social identity as a social justice issue: Preparing students for critically conscious practice. In B. Mehra & K. Rioux (Eds.), Progressive community action: critical theory and social justice in library and information science (pp. 181-214). Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

Damasco, I. T., & Hodges, D. (2012). Tenure and promotion experiences of academic librarians of color. College & research libraries, 73(3), 279-301. doi:10.5860/crl-244

Gustina, M., & Guinnee, E. (2017). Why social justice in the library? Library Journal, 142(10), 52-55. Retrieved September 29, 2017.

Jensen, R. (2008). The Myth of the neutral professional. In A. Lewis (Ed.), Questioning library neutrality (pp. 89-96). Duluth, MN: Library juice press.

Morales, M., Knowles, E. C., & Bourg, C. (2014). Diversity, social justice, and the future of libraries. Libraries and the academy, 14(3), 439-451. Retrieved September 29, 2017.

The Inherent Value of Diversity in Librarianship by Rachel E. Brackenridge

“Diversity, in race, ethnicity, sexuality, age, social background, and more, will bring power to the libraries where balanced views and all kinds of possibilities are inevitable for successful research and teaching. Diversity is not a problem, but an asset for the institution.”

  • Azusa Tanaka, Why Diversity Matters: A Roundtable Discussion on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Librarianship. July 29, 2015.

The necessity for diversity within the field of librarianship is commonly attributed to the increasingly diverse user population it aims to serve. According to Downing, et al. (2007), “It would be wise for librarianship as a profession to focus on creating a next generation of leaders that reflect the population demographics it serves (p. 36).”

Indeed, users may feel more easily understood by library staff who speak the same languages, or are perceived to share the same cultural attributes. This connection between employee diversity and the attraction and retention of customers is well-established in the for-profit world (Kline, 2010), and is commonly referred to as the business case for diversity (Bendick, Egan, & Lanier, 2010).

As described by Bendick et al. (2010), the business case for diversity posits that, “Diverse employees bring differing life experiences, cultural backgrounds, and ways of thinking that will assist their employer in relating to, understanding, and meeting the needs of an increasingly broad range of customers” (p. 471). This, in turn, is thought to increase profitability, and in fact, there is evidence that diversity is positively associated with profitability (Herring, 2009).

Unfortunately, the business case for diversity treats the attraction of a diverse workforce as simply a means to an end. Managers who view employee diversity through this lens often assume what Bendick et al. (2010) describe as, “an automatic match between the average characteristics of customers in a market segment and the characteristics of an individual job candidate or employee based on a single demographic characteristic, such as race, that the individual shares with the segment” (p. 471). It is easy to imagine that minority employees may be tokenized under such a rationale. They may even be passed over for promotions if their value to the organization is so inextricably linked to their minority status and the perceived advantage that status offers within a given customer or user segment (Bendick et al., 2010).

The business case for diversity might be leaned upon so ubiquitously in historically homogenous industries and companies because it is more psychologically palatable for those in majority groups. According to Thomas, Plaut, and Tran (2014), “[it] may very well be a psychologically ‘safe’ rationale for Whites because the business case for diversity emphasizes benefits to profit and not issues of justice, fairness, or privilege” (p. 82). As suggested by this assertion, there are alternative motivations for increasing diversity which are more ethical and treat minorities more fairly (Van Dijk, Van Engen, & Paauwe, 2012), and it behooves librarians to pause in their quests to meet diversity-related benchmarks and consider the lessons that the private- sector is currently learning in this area.

If the business case for diversity is misguided, it is nevertheless a progression from diversity ideologies that fail to recognize cultural or ethnic variation altogether. Colorblind ideology stipulates that one is morally obliged to overlook differences between ethnicities, including skin color, because to acknowledge difference makes one prejudiced (Thomas et al., 2014). Unfortunately, this ideology effectively minimizes white privilege, and by refusing to recognize real differences between cultures, it stigmatizes those differences and establishes white or majority culture as the norm (Thomas et al., 2014).

On the other end of the ideology spectrum is multiculturalism (Thomas et al., 2014). A multicultural ideology embraces diversity and sees its value as inherent, rather than simply business- savvy or profitable. “Organizations applying the multicultural diversity ideology seek to capitalize on [diversity] and provide an environment where their employees have a stronger possibility of maximizing their potential and impacting the organization’s performance” (Thomas et al., 2014, p. 84).

In considering this, it should be clear that, in order to embrace a multicultural ideology in LIS, we must separate the motivation to increase diversity in the field from the commonly held assumption that doing so will attract users or improve staff interactions with users at the point of service. The assumption that minorities can speak on behalf of all of those who share some of their ethnic attributes does not account for intersectionality (Werbner et al., 2013), and maybe more importantly, excuses members of the majority from developing intercultural competence (Ritchie & Walker, 2007).

Increasing diversity will no doubt benefit the field of LIS and our ability to serve our communities in countless ways (Downing, et al., 2007), but gaining insight into users’ interests and needs should not be our main motivation for doing so, as this threatens to pigeonhole minority librarians and fails to acknowledge their abilities to contribute more generally in the workplace (Thomas et al., 2014).

References:

Bendick, M., Lou Egan, M., & Lanier, L. (2010). The business case for diversity and the perverse practice of matching employees to customers. Personnel Review, 39(4), 468-486.

Downing, Alire, Cawthorne, Hall, Offord, Pitchford, . . . Jordan, Prof. Karen, Dr Camila, Jon, Tracie, Jerome, Veronda, Prof. Alexandra, Alysse A. E. D. J. (2007). Library leadership development: Institutional commitment, increasing underrepresented populations and impacting the information profession. 20-39.

Herring, C. (2009). Does diversity pay?: Race, gender, and the business case for diversity. American Sociological Review, 74(2), 208-224.

Kline, A. (2010). The business case for diversity. U.S. Banker, 120(5), 10-11.

Ritchie, A., & Walker, C. (2007). Continuing professional development: Pathways to leadership in the library and information world. (IFLA Publications).

Thomas, K., Plaut, V., & Tran, N. (2014). Diversity ideologies in organizations. (Series in applied psychology).

Van Dijk, H., Van Engen, M., & Paauwe, J. (2012). Reframing the Business Case for Diversity: A Values and Virtues Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics,111(1), 73-84.

Why Diversity Matters: A Roundtable Discussion on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Librarianship. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2015/why-diversity-matters-a-roundtable-discussion-on-racial-and-ethnic-diversity-in-librarianship/

This article contains excerpts from: Brackenridge, R. E. (2017). Diversity in Library and Information Science: A Critical Review of the Literature. University of Denver. Unpublished.

How White Neutrality Affects the Library and Information Science Profession and What We Can Do to Change It by Karna Southall

Whiteness:

n.

A concept that problematizes white people as a racial category. It challenges the tendency of white people to view themselves as non-racial or race-neutral, identifies the privilege attached to whiteness, and sees it as a specific standpoint from which white people regard themselves and others.

-From the Oxford Dictionary of Social Work and Social Care

In the library profession, the commitment to intellectual freedom is undoubtable. We’re taught in our master’s program that one cannot be a librarian without the firm belief that you and everyone you know can seek out information, whatever that information might be. We discuss the right to read about homosexual relationships in children’s books, the appropriate way to assist patrons when they want to learn to draw nudes, and how to navigate around the CIA when they come knocking on your door asking for patron records. All of this is taught with the soaring rhetoric of eagles, education, and the commitment to non-bias access.

All of this is taught in the basis of whiteness.

The concept of free speech comes from the Enlightenment period, where upper-class educated white men philosophized that education and freedom would promote the wellbeing of all men. Our founding doctrines as stated in the American constitution are influenced from these musings. It is only in our modern day interpretation of these ideals to include people who are not white and not male. It cannot be denied that these principals are based on the idea of white neutrality (and because of this, white hierarchy) and not from the idealistic view of democratic freedom.  When viewing Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting [3 Panel], 1951, we see this idea in the visual arts. Rauschenberg was originally responding to Clement Greenberg’s philosophy that the one difference in painting compared to other art mediums is the flatness of canvas. Rauschenberg then painted a canvas completely white to be neutral and flat, almost mocking the Greenberg’s critique. His painting became a sounding board for what was around the painting, reflecting the gallery’s lighting and attendee’s shadows. If we view this painting through the lens of whiteness, the idea that this painting can be neutral is problematic and physically impossible.

To develop a more just and solidarity seeking society, we must confront the notion that free speech and intellectual freedom are not without bias. Let’s examine this with an example. A current issue of the moment is free speech on college campuses. It is argued that all viewpoints, however we feel about them, should be represented on college campuses because college is the place to be challenged. These challenging situations are thought to expand the student’s mind and “the real harm is caused when students are not challenged” (Cohen, 2017). In our profession, when should we allow free speech policy to psychologically harm students? Is it within the right of information professionals to speak in defense of censorship? I argue that pursuing the principal of intellectual freedom without questioning the assumption of white neutrality is harmful to all students on campus. In our fight for intellectual freedom, we must remember the Black Caucus’s distinction between the First Amendment’s principals and practices: “The First Amendment pledges to protect freedom of expression but not to supply an audience.” Considering the harmful quality of these ‘Freedom of Speech’ advocates, it is within our professions best interest to act against neutrality and promote education that pursues the dismantling of these ideals. Hikido and Murray (2016) wrote “a crucial tenet of critical multiculturalism is making whiteness visible and accountable.”  As information professionals, it is a necessity to understand this distinction. From the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, it is stated that access to information should be unbiased. The focus of a library, and the librarians who run it, is to simply provide information without discriminating against the provider. Below are the six principals of the Bill of Rights:

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

As the Bill of Rights for the United States is lofty in rhetoric and stance, so is the American Library’s Association Bill of Library Rights. We strive for the pursuit of information for all, for the enlightenment of all people, and for access to the masses. In practice, we fail at these ideals because of our engrained assumption of intellectual freedom. Jessica Charbeneau from the University of Michigan Department of Sociology writes “such privilege/oppression may not be the fault of specific white individuals, but that does not mean they are not responsible for it.” (2013). The failure within this Bill of Rights is the acknowledgement that no information provided can be neutral or that that provider is simply a guardian of truth. We can learn from other educational scholarship about the teaching practice of transforming whiteness from unspoken normality to challenged discourse.  To be an information professional should be to understand one’s implicit bias, the bias of the institution, and the bias of the society. In the recognition of these failures, we can find our strength as a profession to own our history and seek a progressive initiative to change these white neutralities. We must acknowledge that the idea of neutrality is impossible and change the policy to reflect this.

References:

Charbeneau, J. (2013). White faculty transforming whiteness in the classroom through pedagogical practice. Race Ethnicity and Education, , 1-20. doi:10.1080/13613324.2013.831823

Cohen, A. (2017). Psychological Harm and Free Speech on Campus. Society, 54(4), 320-325. doi:10.1007/s12115-017-0145-6

Harris, J., & White, V. (2013). whiteness (1 ed. ed.) Oxford University Press.

Hikido, A., & Murray, S. B. (2016). Whitened Rainbows: How White College Students Protect Whiteness through Diversity Discourses. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 19(2), 389-411. doi:10.1080/13613324.2015.1025736

“Library Bill of Rights”, American Library Association, June 30, 2006.
http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill (Accessed September 29, 2017)

 

Diversity in Libraries, Diversity on the Bookshelves by Alexa Hight

How can we claim that our libraries are diverse, if the books and other resources do not reflect said diversity? This month, in preparing for Banned Books Week for my library, I was perusing the American Library Association’s website for lists of challenged books from this year and found a list that I had not seen before: Books with Diverse Content. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) found that “out of the 2015 Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books, nine of them contained diverse content” (2017).

The complete list of books challenged with diverse content contains 86 books that include content “by or about people of color, LGBT people and/or people with disabilities” (ALA, 2017). ALA additionally explains their definition of diversity, citing their own policy manual: “The American Library Association (ALA) promotes equal access to information for all persons and recognizes the ongoing need to increase awareness of and responsiveness to the diversity of the communities we serve. ALA recognizes the critical need for access to library and information resources, services, and technologies by all people, especially those who may experience language or literacy-related barriers; economic distress; cultural or social isolation; physical or attitudinal barriers; racism; discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, immigrant status, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression; or barriers to equal education, employment, and housing” (2017).

The OIF mentions the work of Malinda Lo, who stated that diverse content means “books by and about people of color, LGBT people, and/or disabled people.” (2014). In her article, Lo breaks down the demographics of books banned because of diverse content, and books banned or challenged written by diverse authors. It may seem appalling to many readers that the books that are getting challenged are arguably the books we should be reading the most, in order to become a more just and equitable society.
What can we, as librarians, do? Apart from ALA, there are organizations, authors, and librarians doing the work towards diversifying library materials. We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) has a mission to put more books that feature diverse characters into the hands of children; they envision a world where all children can see themselves in the books that they read. As a grassroots organization, WNDB is made up of children’s book lovers that advocate essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people, and as such, all people (2017). We Need Diverse Books not only advocating for libraries and schools to hold and teach books of diverse content, but they go to the root of the issue by advocating for publishers to produce literature written by and containing diversity. Getting children to read books with diverse content is one thing, with the traditions of Dr. Seuss books and fairy tales, not to mention the fact that the majority of banned books have diverse content, so getting parents to allow their children to read and enjoy diverse books will be a challenge. Recently, a librarian rejected First Lady Melania Trump’s gift of Dr. Seuss books, citing not only issues with the administration, but the racist content of the books themselves (Chason, 2017). Not only do we have to advocate for books with more diversity, but we must question so-called “childhood classics.” Now, any librarian can comment on the reverse effect of refusing books for containing racist, or other non-PC content. If we advocate for Intellectual Freedom, should we advocate for all points of view?

Last spring, I attended the conference held by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). One of the keynote speakers was Roxane Gay, a feminist and African American author. Gay had recently pulled her book from the publishing house Simon and Schuster over the fact that the publishing house had given the controversial figure Milo Yiannopoulus an advance (Jamieson, 2017). During the Question and Answer portion of the keynote, Martin Garner, co-chair of ALA’s Task Force for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, asked Gay what her advice was around the issue of libraries holding Yiannopoulus’s book. As a non-librarian, her response was simple: don’t buy it. As a librarian-in-training, I struggled with this idea. If librarians are supposed to promote equal access to information for all persons, does that include the writings of people like Yiannopoulus? If we want diverse content, can that include content that may be considered sexist, racist, homophobic, etc.?
Continuing the idea of access, at the university where I work, the center for culture, identity, and social justice (or cultural center for short) has its own library branch. The collection reflects the university’s commitment to social justice. The separate branch exists in order to further the community’s understanding of systems of oppression and privilege. The collection offers a diverse array of reading materials and films on subjects including race, class, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, written by diverse authors. The aim of the collection is to shift the normative story by centering the voices and perspectives that are often marginalized in society. This library is amazing in theory; however, issues have come up from library staff and students. For example, the cultural center is not staffed the same number of hours as the main library. As such, the books are kept locked within the cultural center. If a student wants a book from the cultural center, the main library staff has to walk over and unlock the cases to get the item(s). This is frustrating because the idea of the separate collection was to have a space where students could look for books on sensitive subjects without having to draw attention to themselves or the item(s) they were looking for. Now, rather than having all the books in one library, they have been removed to a separate building that has limited hours. Additionally, while some of the items transferred to the cultural center were duplicates, a lot of the items that made the main library’s collection diverse is gone, creating disproportionate collections. Whereas the university had one diverse collection, now it has one extremely diverse collection and one that appears to lack diversity all together. Is creating a separate collection the answer? How do we make our libraries diverse and yet accessible, as well as welcoming environments for students and patrons from every demographic? Are we on the right track?

References

About Us. (2016, September 28). We Need Diverse Books. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://weneeddiversebooks.org/mission-statement/

ALA. (2017, July 18). Defining Diversity. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/diversity

ALA. (2017, July 18). Frequently Challenged Books. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks

Allen Ginsberg Library. (2017). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.naropa.edu/academics/ginsberg-library/

Book Challenges Suppress Diversity. (2014, September 18). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.diversityinya.com/2014/09/book-challenges-suppress-diversity/

Chason, R. (2017, September 28). ‘Racist propaganda’: Librarian rejects Melania Trump’s gift of Dr. Seuss books. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/09/28/racist-propaganda- librarian-rejects-melania-trumps-gift-of-dr-seuss-books/?utm_term=.4160bf48fbee

Jamieson, A. (2017, January 25). Roxane Gay pulls book from Simon & Schuster over Milo Yiannopoulos deal. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/25/roxane-gay-simon-schuster-milo- yiannopoulos