I’m wrapping up my Tools for Library Advocacy class this week. I’ll probably be writing down some of what I’ve learned trying to teach a CMS-evading online class–what worked and what doesn’t–but I had a small outline to share. The class was short, really short. Six weeks with two holidays (Memorial Day and King Kamehameha Day) and then grades are due over the July 4th weekend. Tough timing so I wanted to really compress things. I thought about advocacy and what are the essential parts of a good advocacy campaign, whether it’s putting out lawn signs or getting a new program at the library. I summarized it as stats + stories + good design + good tools. Added to this are, of course, good communication and partnerships which I wove in there as well as determining the appropriateness of a social media approach. The web address for my class won’t be up forever but this link should work for a while. You can see what we wrote and read and did on the syllabus.
Two specific items that I am pulling out for my own continued advocacy on digital divide topics are these (one from class, one not from class).
1. This comment on MetaFilter about what it’s like for a truly digitally divided user to try to apply for a job on a library computer. We know variants of this because we see it ever day, but I think it’s an exceptionally well-communicated single piece that should be shared and read widely.
2. This document from Bruce Clark, Queens University’s Digital Inclusion Project Manager about helping someone sign up for AT&T’s Access Plan, the low cost internet access that is available to people who need it, courtesy of the FCC. You’ll note that the process takes over a week and will help the user save $40 a month on her internet access, money she can spend on better food and more bus rides (her words).
Even though we know the numbers about digitally divided folks, and we see the promotions trying to get people signed up for service, it’s ultimately people like Bruce who make the last mile happen. Following up and following through so that people who have multiple challenges can get some assistance helping solve a problem.
Each of my students created an advocacy plan and we spent a week each working on stats and stories and design and tools. It was incredibly gratifying to see them putting work into things they cared about (some library-oriented, some less so) and effectively communicating a need for change. I hope I’m able to teach this class, or some variant of it, again.
Notable federal district decision from a week or so ago concerning a student/parent objection to a book that had homoesexual [well, same-sex couple] characters. The court upheld a lower court dismissal of a lawsuit by a family climaing their religious rights were being violated when kids read books involving “positive portrayals of families headed by same-sex parents and same-sex marriage, including the frequently challenged children’s book, King and King.” The court stated that reading the books is not the same as being “indoctrinated” into affirming the choices the book’s characters make, or are evidencing. It’s an interesting challenge and an interesting, and to my mind positive, response with the upshot being “you do not have the right to not be offended”.
The First Circuit rejected the parents’ indoctrination claims. It held that there is no First Amendment free exercise right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations. It also held that public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, especially when the school does not require that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them.
You can read the full opinion here and some backstory on the controversy that sparked these claims here and here. Keep in mind that this book challenge happened in Massachusetts, a state where same sex marriages are legal and where a “1993 state law directed school systems to teach about different kinds of families and the harm of prejudice.”
This is a photo my sister took of the calendar in the room where I was hanging out with Dalhousie library/info science students at a brown bag lunch. Please note OMG line. Delightful. I had a really good time talking to students and answering question about topics ranging from porn to the USA PATRIOT Act. Thanks to everyone for coming out and saying hello!
Apparently University of Missouri-Columbia got a big grant through IMLS to help them train more librarians. Apparently this is because there is a librarian shortage. They are not even trying to bring up numbers to justify this anymore, there are just statements like this
“With only a certain number of accredited programs, we can only graduate so many people a year,” [Professor John] Budd said. “There is a bit of a supply-and-demand inequality.”
Reading the actual grant guidelines is less of an exercise in tooth-gnashery than reading the way it is portrayed in the article.
People have been writing me over the last few weeks talking about non-MLIS PhDs entering librarianship. It’s way outside of my range of knowledge and not something we come up against in the public library world, so I’d back-burnered it, figured I’d chat with some people at ALA about it. This week Rory has a special edition of Library Juice that contains some back and forth on the JESSE list. Pretty thougtful discussion. [thanks rebecca]