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MLS 2017 Spring Program--Talking Social Justice in Massachusetts Libraries: Diversity to Equity: Idea Fair

Information and resources to accompany the MLS program on June 13, 2017.

What is an Idea Fair?

It's like a poster session, but posters are optional! We know our members are doing a lot of great things out there, but not everyone has the time or resources to design a formal poster, so many will be at tables instead. Like in a poster session, all Idea Fair presenters will be stationed in the same room, and attendees will circulate throughout to engage with them individually or in small groups.

Idea Fair Participants (1:00-2:00pm)

1. Internet Navigators
Institution: Brooks Free Library, Harwich, MA

Presenters: Emily Milan, Assistant Director; and Emily Carta, Staff Librarian

Internet Navigators is a program that attempts to bridge the digital divide by providing basic digital literacy training for library users. This training includes navigation of the internet, the use of email, how to find websites and information online, and how to fill out online forms and applications. The program relies on volunteers who, after receiving training from library staff, are matched with library users. Volunteers act as digital guides providing advice, coaching, and encouragement to their trainees. In addition to training, the library provides volunteers with a wide variety of resources, including in-library use of Chromebooks, lesson guides, and print resources.


2. "Becoming Nicole" - Social Justice Through a Community Read Program
Institution: Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Presenter: Maura Deedy, Assistant Director of Libraries

The 2017 Arlington Reads Together selection was "Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family" by Amy Ellis Nutt, the story of a transgender girl and her family. The committee selected this book as it represented a diversity aspect that had not yet been explored through a community read. We had seen an increased focus on transgender rights locally and nationally. Learn about the programs we planned around transgender issues and topics, and the feedback we received from our community, the history of LGBTQ programming in Arlington. The timing of our community read coincided with when the Trump Administration rescinded protections for transgender students.

3. Be Zine & Heard: Social Justice for All
Sherrill Library, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA
Presenters: Bettiann McKay, Coordinator of Acquisitions; and Jamie Glass, Library Assistant for Access Services

For Lesley University’s annual Community of Scholars Day, we offered a hands-on zine-making workshop that focused on zines for and about social justice as a way to empower people who have been disillusioned in the wake of the presidential election, ongoing police brutality against people of color, and increase in hate crimes against marginalized groups.

Since zines have a history of giving voice to the underrepresented—they speak for their time, are personal and unedited, and deal with topics not covered by mainstream publications—we encouraged our participants to create individual pages for a group zine on social justice issues. We will have takeaways and resources for you!


4. What Does Social Justice Have to Do with Incivility and Bullying in the Library?
Institution: Framingham State University, Framingham, MA

Presenter: Shin Freedman, Head of Scholarly Resources & Collections

Recent research in College & Research Libraries revealed that more librarians than library administrators, irrespective of their academic status, institution type, and gender, witnessed bullying done to others. Experienced bullying was highest among librarians with a nonwhite ethnic background. While no one would deny the detrimental impact of bullying on an individual target, what is the impact on an organization? Conflict and aggression may begin slowly but last for a long time. Once conflict escalates, incivility and noncollegial behavior result. The longer such behavior is permitted, the more likely it is that other colleagues will be drawn into the situation. Is it appropriate to think about social justice in the context of incivility and bullying in the Library?

View the presenter's article: "Workplace Incivility and Bullying in the Library: Perception or Reality?" College & Research Libraries, November 2016.

View a webinar the author presented about her research in December 2017.

5. Housing, Health, Hunger and Help: Reaching Underserved Populations at the BPL
Institution: Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

Presenters: Djaz Idakaar, Programs & Community Outreach Librarian; and Amber De Angelis, Adult Technology Coordinator

Housing, Health, Hunger and Help looks at MA and Boston statistics around homelessness and hunger and discusses the Boston Public Library's work to help connect patrons to resources through our LibGuide, as well as our institutional efforts to provide services and staff training.

6. Design for Diversity: Information Systems for Diverse Cultural Materials and Ways of Knowing
Institution: Northeastern University Libraries, Boston, MA

Presenter: Amanda Rust, Assistant Director, Digital Scholarship Group

There is renewed energy for preserving the voices of disenfranchised and marginalized communities. We (Northeastern University Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group) often design digital systems for such archives, and we want to do it responsibly. “Design for Diversity,” supported by an IMLS National Forums grant, will create a teaching and learning toolkit for cultural heritage practitioners in systems design. The toolkit will focus on the ways in which information systems embody and reinforce cultural norms, to better inform future work. We need many different kinds of expertise for this project’s success, so we invite you to learn about ways to participate.

7. Historian in Residence - Black History Month
Cardinal Spellman High School, Brockton, MA
Presenters: Linda St Laurent, Director, Instructional Technology & Library Learning Commons; and Melissa Brown, Academic Support Specialist & Teacher

We were approached by students and school administration to create a school wide celebration of Black History month. We asked the Library Learning Commons Program Committee to partner with us in planning this program to ensure voices from all aspects of our school community were considered. The LLC program committee includes representatives from library, school administration, students and teachers. Our goal in designing a program for Black History Month was to create opportunities for the school community to gather together to learn, discuss, and celebrate the contributions of Black Americans. During the MLS Spring program, we will share the stages of planning and a summary of our celebration, which included hallway display, a two day "Historian in Residence" program, and after school round table discussion facilitated by our historian.

8. Waking up White: A Community Conversation on Racial Justice
Institution: Reading Public Library, Reading, MA

Presenter: Andrea Fiorillo: Reference and Adult Services Librarian

Reading Public Library hosted a successful staff and community read of Debby Irving's book Waking up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race. Discussion sessions were followed by a workshop with Ms. Irving. There was a real appetite in Reading's predominately white community to address the current racial climate. Meaningful discussions were held with staff, teens, and adults. We partnered with the town Human Relations Advisory Committee, high school, clergy association, and cable station. Irving's workshop was well attended, and as a result "Waking up White" was added to the high school summer required reading list.


9. Ditching the Deficit Model
Institutions: Worcester State University, Worcester, MA
; and Middlesex Community College, Bedford, MA
Vicki Gruzynski, Assistant Librarian (Teaching & Learning), WSU; and Carrie Salazar, Literacy & Assessment Librarian, MCC

Let’s move away from viewing our students through a deficit model and towards viewing them with a more inclusive model of understanding our students. Students bring to college a wealth of skills and knowledge that will benefit them in a higher education setting. It’s up to us as educators to guide students into realizing how much their skill set is an advantage rather than a detriment. We'll discuss theoretical foundations for student learning, transitions, and college preparedness. Additionally, we will provide practical ways for librarians to collaborate with students to successfully navigate this new area in their lives.

10. Starting Steps Towards Social Justice
Institution: Millis Middle/High School Library, Millis, MA

Presenters: Patsy Divver, School Librarian; and Fatima Neville, Library Aide

There are many avenues to beginning library programs that highlight diversity and social justice. Start small, connecting with classrooms to focus on a theme. Involve students, have them read and learn about issues. Reach out to teachers and community members to expand your resources.

Our School Library has started by using programs such as "Banned Books Week" to highlight books that were banned for social, moral, ethical, religious, and sexual content. Staff and students were "caught" with these books and their "mug shots" were posted throughout the school. Our "Black History Month" program included a poster contest as well as special sections of the library identifying steps in the racial struggles and accomplishments of Afro-Americans. For May, we are inviting people to wear ribbons identifying "mental illness" situations, and reading or sharing about it. We've also developed resource lists for groups, such as Common Ground, that help support LGBT students. These included fiction and non-fiction materials on all social justice topics and are available - as are the books - in the nurse's office, counselors' offices, and with teachers, as well. It is the start of making a change.

11. The Power of Collaboration: Context Through Exposure
Pioneer Valley Regional School, Northfield, MA
Presenters: Fiona Creed Chevalier, Teacher Librarian; and Carie Ruggiano, English Teacher

Prior to reading To Kill A Mockingbird, students engaged in curated stations using LibGuides. The goals were to give students:

  1. perspectives on American History of which they have limited knowledge
  2. language and historical context in order to discuss privilege and power
  3. historical context for To Kill a Mockingbird
  4. a lens into the inherent strength of individual and collective changemakers within the black community

Stations were designed specifically to cover a wide range of history and perspective utilizing poetry, essay, interviews, and music. We designed the project so students could move at their own pace and engage in meaningful dialogue.

12. Managing Events Inclusive to All Your Patrons' Languages
Medford High School Library, Medford, MA
Maria D'Orsi, Teacher Librarian; and Nicole Sanford, ELA Teacher

In an effort to bring more limited English speaking families to school events, the school librarian at Medford High School teamed up with one of the school's ELA teachers to create a series of informational sessions that were open to all but targeted the English Language Learner families.  See what steps the presenters took to market these sessions to ELL families and increase their attendance, assist them in participating, and provide them with content that was worth the effort, as well as to quantify results for their own personal Smart Goals and other licensing as well!