An email I wrote to our state library association about the concerning things happening in Texas.
Hello all — I am writing this kind of in my role as VT Chapter Councilor and somewhat as someone in the Intellectual Freedom Committee. I wanted to make you aware of an issue concerning book challenges.
As you are probably aware, Texas is one of the states where there are coordinated groups of “concerned parents” and others who have been challenging books with GLBTQ content as well as books about what they call “critical race theory” but which are really just books about… American history usually, with a focus on the Black (and sometimes Native American) experience and the effects of racism. Here’s an article from CNN. I draw your attention to the quote from ALA.
Question from a soon-to-be library school student: as a white person, how can I go about this in a way that promotes inclusivity and justice for all people? I really want to help people with this profession by helping create and facilitate a space of accessible education but I also want to make sure I’m doing it in the right way.
I think it’s tricky, I sometimes refer to this diagram about white people in social justice work generally (above). That is, there are a lot of contradictions to the work of being a good ally and otherwise trying to support justice for everyone. I see it as having two main directions
I’m on a mailing list where we discuss book issues. There are authors, publishers, industry people, and librarians on this list. Recently we’ve been discussing the Internet Archive’s ongoing legal dispute with the AAP (Association of American Publishers). If you recall the Archive made many copyrighted books available on their website via the National Emergency Library (NEL) during COVID. Publishers did not appreciate this and sued them. There has been a lot of paperwork and blog posts going back and forth. Most recently the Archive requested “comps” or sales data for not only the 127 books that the Archive made available that are the core of this suit, but also similar books to get an idea of what sort of market effect the NEL had on these publishers. The publishers pushed back on this claiming “… since books are not fungible widgets [the request] rests on a false premise…. There is no such thing as a ‘comparable book’—even if ‘comparable’ is defined as some undefined period of sales data. Should Catcher in the Rye have similar sales to a bestselling cookbook, no one could plausibly contend the two works were ‘comparable.” I decided to push back a little on this idea, from a librarian perspective and talk about whether books are fungible….
I am the lead on the Vermont Library Association website. One of the things we do a LOT of is post jobs. Many of these jobs are in small or rural libraries and don’t always pay well. We made a decision to start strongly encouraging people to post the pay range and here was our explanation for why.
We’ve been talking amongst ourselves on the web team and wanted to put in a friendly encouragement for people to put salary or hourly $$ ranges and description of benefits in their job ads if they’re posting them on the VLA web site.
We’d like this for a few reasons, primarily because of equity and diversity issues. This slightly tongue in cheek blog post has a good enumeration of the reasons that this is a positive move for employers to make.
I spoke with a woman who works for a website that is frequently cited on Wikipedia as a source for a particular kind of data–think IMDB for a different sector. They want to make sure their data is helping to increase representation of women and facts about women on Wikipedia but don’t know that much about the culture there and wanted some pointers on how to get started. We had a Zoom chat and then I sent along a list of links.
Every page on Wikipedia has a page (the main article) and a talk page (for kibitizing about the article). This includes even user pages. So here is my page and my talk page
So talk pages can be good about getting what the “backchannel” discussions about pages can be. If you look up a controversial or hot current topics you can see people talking on them. Here’s one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Simone_Biles
Note also that since Simone is a living person that there is an even tighter set of restrictions that are for Biographies of Living people. Since you will likely be working in this space, good to know about it. Not too tough for the work you’re doing but just good to know. Here’s a zillion damned words on it.