Diversity in a Flash: A Lightning Showcase of Residency Diversity Initiatives

Enjoy the slides from my 2015 ALA Annual presentation with four incredible residency librarians! Sponsored by the Ethnic Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table and the Residency Interest Group.


My ACRL 2015

I had an amazing time networking and reflecting on the scholarship available at ACRL 2015. Here is a summary of the activities I participated in.

Meeting with Professional Groups

I was able to speak with colleagues about projects including the Residency Interest Group’s new mentorship program, EMIERT’s new website to feature archival collections that highlight diversity (https://diversevoicescommunitiesofcolor.wordpress.com/), and the RUSA-sponsored Emerging Leaders project about library publishing services.

Poster Sessions

Claire Holmes and I presented our poster about our curriculum mapping project.  The poster created a lot of positive energy, great feedback, and stimulating discussions about how to best map curriculum to information literacy instruction.

I was able to see Sara Arnold-Garza and Megan Browndorf’s posters as well. Sara’s resonated with me because it reflected my experience as a resident. Megan’s research about librarian dissatisfaction with research in the field encouraged me to think about what research I might conduct in the future, and how I might conduct it, to have a stronger value to our profession.

Other poster sessions I inquired about included:

  • Five in Two: Dispatches from Residencies on Creating Sustainable Programs (Sojourna Cunningham, University of Richmond; Kai Smith, University of Notre Dame): The results of this poster reflected survey responses from residents; I enjoyed reading other residents’ responses to how sustainable programs could be created.
  • Diving into Data: Developing Skills in Research Data Services (Scott Martin, Jo Angela Oehrli, University of Michigan): This poster described how a team of librarians created an educational program for their peers across library departments and campus departments to provide them with the skills and vocabulary needed to effectively manage and communicate their new data services program. I look forward to investigating their model when it is posted online.
  • RDA, active learning, and collaboration: a tale of two departments (Heidy Berthoud, Rachelle Ramer, Vassar College): I appreciated the partnership between instruction and technical services librarians that led to this kind of training. It seemed engaging and informative, as well as transferable.

Round Tables

I attended two roundtables. The first was “Collaboration amongst librarians of color:  Creating communal networks for career advancement,” led by the ACRL Diversity Committee. I heard about unique challenges for librarians of color. Many felt pressured by their peers to be the expert on all people of color, to speak multiple languages not their own, and to fulfill–but not exceed–their perceived role as the token diversity hire. They also felt as though other librarians viewed diversity programming and training as a “fun” project but not one relevant and necessary to the function of an academic  librarian. They suggested librarians of color may form their own community of support and encouraged participation on the ACRL Diversity Committee.

The second roundtable was led by Sarah Gilchrist of Towson University about Universal Design for Learning. A small yet passionate group discussed current understanding of accessibility, UD, and UDL as well as experiences that had broadened their understanding.

Panel Sessions

Collection Development, e-Resources, and Meeting the Needs of People with Disabilities (Axel Schmetzke, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Cheryl Pruitt, California State University, Office of the Chancellor; Michele Bruno, Cengage Learning)

Schmetzke’s review of collection development literature pointed out a lack of awareness of development with accessibility as a focus. 1/3 of the 55 books he reviewed had any mention of accessibility and e-resources, and most of those in a shallow way. He proposed Universal Design as a model for collection developers. Pruitt of CSU and Bruno of Cengage Learning spoke to the incentive to spark change provided by legal language in contracts ensuring that vendors build for accessibility of information. Resources discussed include the AccessText Network, Libraries for Universal Accessibility, and an article by Tatomir and Durrance for “moderately accessible databases.” While no one mentioned Universal Design for Learning, institutions that officially stand by UDL might have greater incentive for changing collection practices as budgets allow.

Limited by Search: The Need for More Effective Ebrowsing Environments (Kate Joranson, University of Pittsburgh University Library System; Sarah Falls, The Ohio State University Libraries; Gregg Gordon, President, Social Sciences Research Network; Emily Gore, DPLA Director for Content; Jeff Goldenson, Olin College; Steve VanTuyl, Carnegie Mellon University; Nina Clements, Penn State Brandywine)

My main take-away from this session was Emily Gore’s reference to the Rufus Pollack quote: “The best thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else.” I loved that Gore stressed DPLA’s philosophy of openness and support for app creation.

Contributed Papers

Contributed Papers 15

User Engagement with Digital Archives: A Case Study of Emblematica Online (Harriett Green, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

It’s great to see user experience studies held in the Archives! The emblematica are complex because of the need to describe both the image, the text, and the work that they live in. The study discovered reasons that faculty might want to use emblematica digital collections: teaching, discovery of content, research, and scholarly communications. I loved this quote: ““[Emblematica Online] could help students and researchers get across multi-lingual barriers because it is a multi-lingual tradition and visual tradition. It can also help pioneer searches that begin as visual and verbal searches.”–Faculty. Most of the results of the study were typical, but I was interested in the desire for greater interactivity, such as allowing for annotations.

Contributed Papers 24
From Problem Solvers to Solution Creators: Shifting Roles of Technical Services (Sally Gibson, Illinois State University)

Implementation of Batch Cataloging: A Case Study (Ariel Turner, Kennesaw State University Sturgis Library)

Managing the E-Resource Ecosystem: Creating a Process for Sustainable E-Resource Life Cycle Workflow Analysis and Oversight (Pamela MacKintosh, Emily Campbell, University of Michigan)

The major take-away from these presentations is the need for documentation of process, and sharing that documentation. This is necessary for communication with other librarians, and for passing on your legacy if needed. I especially appreciated Ariel Turner’s website for batch cataloging.

Contributed Papers 29
Diversity Means Justice: Growing Grassroots Library Staff Diversity Leaders (Jee-Hyun Davis, Kristen Hogan, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

Residency Programs and Demonstrating Commitment to Diversity (Kelly McElroy, Oregon State University ; Chris Diaz, National Louis University)

Attainment of Academic Library Leadership by Asian Americans: Challenges and Development (Binh Le, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries)

My one critique of these papers is that no one mentions how they accounted for multi-racial or multi-ethnic identities; especially in the latter two papers, where statistics about the racial diversity of our profession drove the conclusions that further diversity is needed. If multi-racial librarians identified as three races, for example, that would add two additional librarians to the statistics; if multi-racial librarians identified as only one race, that limits the reflection of actual diversity; and there is also the reality that if multi-racial librarians do not see themselves reflected in the statistics, they may not participate in the study at all. There is mention in Residency Programs about the term multicultural and how it is used to disguise racial and ethnic inequities, but there is no recognition of a growing population of individuals identifying as multi-racial or multi-ethnic.

Regardless, the visual diversity and diversity literacy of librarians can still improve. I learn a lot from discussions about the experiences of other librarians of color, because not every librarian of color shares the same experiences. I also loved the educational focus of the Davis and Hogan paper, Diversity Means Justice. I was able to speak with them after the presentation about how to describe underrepresented communities without unfairly labeling populations in a colonialist way, which is relevant to my EMIERT Directory of Ethnic and Multicultural Archives project.

Contributed Papers 32
Measuring Our Relevancy: Comparing Results in a Web-Scale Discovery Tool, Google & Google Scholar
(Christal Young, Elizabeth Namei, University of Southern California Libraries)

Searching in the wild: observing information-seeking behavior in a discovery tool (Heather Dalal, Amy Kimura, Melissa A. Hofmann, Rider University)

These papers contained known results: our students have trouble searching.  The inefficacy of the discovery tool with searches such as those where the title and author are included, but not in quotes, was discouraging but not surprising. I wonder what will happen to these discovery systems as linked data allows for greater access via popular tools. A major takeaway of these papers was to show faculty video of their students searching to bring everyone to the same realization of the research process that occurs in the background of every research paper.

Keynote: Lawrence Lessig

This was an emotional and inspiring keynote. I really would have liked for the discussion about net neutrality to incorporate the recent FCC ruling, especially given his assertion in the first third of his talk that only .02% of the United States filters election results for the rest of the country. I also appreciated the tweet from @nnschiller:



I appreciated the social justice wave focus of the conference, as so many incredible perspectives came forth; I also appreciated those librarians who took a moment to think critically about the messages and actions to take away from the presentations.

New Portfolio Project: Creating a Student Records Transfer Program

I had the opportunity to work with Towson University Archivist Nadia Nasr, Archives Staff Felicity Knox, and the Coordinator of Student Organizations Chris Rindosh to create a records transfer program for student organizations. Read more about it here: https://saespinosahome.wordpress.com/portfolio/creating-a-student-records-transfer-program/

Reflections on my ALA-MW 2015 experience

This post provides an overview of some of the sessions I attended at ALA Midwinter. I chose to go to the following:

Emerging Leaders Workshop
ALCTS New Members Interest Group
CAMMS Research and Publications Committee
Metadata Interest Group
Creative Ideas in Technical Services Interest Group
Publisher/Vendor/Library Relations Interest Group
ALCTS Forum: Libraries as Publishers: Next Steps in Self Publishing?

Notes from the Sessions:

EL Workshop
Led by Maureen Sullivan and Connie Paul, the EL workshop provided some leadership training, valuable networking, and time to develop work flow for accomplishing our projects. While I have been through leadership training in the past, I appreciated the opportunity to think about leadership in the context of my ALA service, and how I could guide committees, task forces, and interest groups more efficiently. I met my team guide, Elizabeth German, and discovered more about the project I will be working on until ALA Annual. The project, sponsored by RUSA, will investigate what educational training, standards and guidelines, and networking support to provide library professionals interested in the public services lens of the library as publisher. My teammates and I planned out the steps of our project, what tools we will use to manage our progress, and what forms our outputs will take. I am excited for this project and look forward to seeing it accomplished at Annual. I also had the chance to meet other Emerging Leaders, including those from the DC-MD area. Hopefully, this will lead to further communication between us.

ALCTS New Members Interest Group, Metadata Interest Group, CAMMS Forum, Creative Ideas in Technical Services Interest Group

I attended these sessions mostly for professional development. I’m extremely interested in metadata and working in a technical services field, so I went to a lot of ALCTS-sponsored events to get a feel for the community. There were some excellent opportunities for networking and learning. The New Members IG and the Creative Ideas IG provided the space for meeting current professionals and asking how to build a resume, publish, blend special collections and technical services skills, and take advantage of opportunities as a new professional. The Metadata IG included a presentation by the National Library of Medicine about the RDF framework for MeSH and an automated reconciliation of local and LoC authorities from the University of Michigan. These, and the BIBFRAME presentations from the CAMMS Forum, gave me a much clearer idea of how innovative strategies for organizing information could improve the accessibility of data. Up until now I knew about these topics but had a hard time imagining the tangible effect; these examples have made me even more excited to explore the ideas.

Publisher/Vendor/Library Relations Interest Group, CAMMS Research and Publications Committee, ALCTS Forum: Libraries as Publishers: Next Steps in Self Publishing?

These sessions related to my EL Project, Library as Publisher. I wanted to learn more about the topic and network with other interested professionals.  The P/V/L IG allowed me to gain insight into reasons for desiring a shift in the publication model. While the vendors who presented had great information and introduced me to the Open Discovery Initiative, but the business model clearly still inhibits the freedom of sharing metadata. A very kind librarian also explained some of the more basic terms to me (A&I = Abstract and Index… I felt like such a millenial…:/) and recommended the Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management by Peggy Johnson for learning more. The RPC had presenters who gave three very different publishing models: providing the open access systems, funding faculty publishing in open access journals, and creating a kind of gray-lit press using freelance work that the author pays for up front. The ALCTS Forum included a public library press and story center for building skills, and an academic publisher that prioritized student experiential learning of open access journals, literary magazines, and monographs.

Instruction for Librarians about Special Collections and Archives

I just finished leading an instructional session for librarians about why students might require or desire archival or special collections material, and how to locate that material. This session posed a unique challenge for me. It is one thing to provide instruction to undergraduate freshmen; it is another to create something useful and informative to a group of expert librarians, regardless of their archival or special collections experience.

To get an idea for what material would be most useful to information professionals in the library field, I sent out a survey. Eleven librarians replied. We had a nice variety of experience; 36% worked in an archival or special collections environment, and 36% had conducted related coursework. One had used them for research. The majority of responses indicated that, if a student or faculty member asked what archives or special collections were, the librarians would respond with examples or qualities of the materials. Some indicated the place where such materials lived; one mentioned that staff also fit into this definition.

When asked what concepts would benefit their service the most, librarians responded with the following top four:

  • identifying and using online tools to locate or interpret items in archives or special collections relevant to student needs
  • circumstances that might require a student to use archives or special collections
  • how to identify collections that might be relevant to a student’s research
  • how archival materials can be used to provide context for information literacy framework or standards

These became the goals of the session.

I divided my presentation into four segments. The first included a small-group brainstorm of reasons a student might conduct special collections or archives research. The responses focused on specific material types, which contrasted with my own brainstorm of purposes or circumstances. I’m not sure yet what to make of that, but I’m curious to know if that materials-based perspective has any effect on reference.

The second segment provided an overview of search strategies for investigating collections that might be relevant to students. This concentrated on the administrative hierarchy reflected in records; defining the term “series”; and questioning the publishing or processing status of the collections to find hidden treasure. I included asking the archivist as a strategy and emphasized that a disposition towards problem solving, creative thinking, strategic searching, and determination would facilitate success in archives and special collections research.

The third segment reviewed resources including ArchiveGrid, Directory of Corporate Archives, archival management systems, and finding aids. The finding aids portion included an activity during which I asked librarians to use a Collection Guide, Box and Folder list, and List of celebrities to locate a photo of Maya Angelou in the TU Student Government Association records, which they quickly achieved with all three lists.

The session ended with a quick discussion of tie-ins to the developing Information literacy framework and a brief Q&A.

I facilitated discussion and participation during lecture by providing a Instruction Day Worksheet that the librarians could fill out during the session.

To end this experience, I sent out a survey for librarian feedback; I look forward to learning what worked, and what didn’t!