Tag Archives: library

NANJING LIBRARY’S EFFORTS ON INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM

Reviewed By: Judith Gruber, Tess Harper, Anne Luca, Isabel Vargas, Jennifer Weisberger

Link to article: https://doaj.org/article/3cdebe9f3705497b99cb59fa81a1da7a

Intellectual freedom, or the right of every individual to have access to and express information of all points of view without restriction, is one of the primary principles of modern public librarianship. Nanjing Library, the oldest public library in China, has taken positive and effective strides in the efforts to ensure intellectual freedom to the community that it serves. In the the article Nanjing Library’s Efforts on Intellectual Freedom, which was written by one of the librarians who works there, gives an in depth analysis of the library’s services and history. Established in 1907, Nanjing Library is the public library of the province of Jiangsu, and was the national central library during the period of the Republic of China (1912-1949). Due to its rich cultural history and place of importance within the community, Nanjing Library promotes intellectual freedom for its patrons through its collections, services, and free access to information, both print and digital. As a member of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), Nanjing Library is part of a large global network of public libraries serving as information centers offering historical and rare materials, as well as increasingly modern resources
The Nanjing Library houses the third largest library collection in China with more than 11 million volumes of collected books. The Nanjing Library is known for its collection of historical documents that consists of “1.6 million volumes of ancient books, including 140,000 rare books and 700,000 volumes of Republic of China’s documents” (Bing, 2015, p. 8). This collection includes ancient manuscripts, block-prints, books and other works from the Tang and Liao dynasties. 454 elements of the Nanjing collection have been placed on China’s National Precious Ancient Book Register. The Nanjing collection has “formed a resource system, covering various fields in social sciences and natural sciences” (p.8).
The Nanjing Library is located in the center of Nanjing in an area known as Daxinggong. The construction of this library cost more than 400 million Yuan and consists of over 78, 000 sq. meters of floor space. The Nanjing library houses 3,000 seats for its users as well as “more than 4,000 information points for users in the Library” (p.8). The Nanjing Library’s mission is to take positive and effective measures to protect the intellectual freedom of its users. The free public services the library offers include reading, lending, and references services, access to a plethora of databases, lectures, exhibitions and “all kinds of reader activities (p.8)”.
With regard to serving disadvantaged groups, Bing (2015) writes that Jiangsu provincial library’s “…key functions include collecting, organizing, preserving, and utilizing information resources to support its mission of providing information resources to support its mission of providing services to all citizens, including disadvantaged groups” (p. 14). In addition, Jiangsu library also was the pioneering library to offer services to “visually impaired users among all provincial public libraries in China”, calling it “The Blind Audio Library” (Bing, 2015, p. 14). This collection contains “…3,000 volumes of Braille books and 33,000 audiobooks” as well as “…Braille printers, tape recorders, video viewing devices, computers for the visually impaired to get the Internet” and other services (Bing, 2015, p.14). Furthermore, Bing (2015) writes that “Since 2012, Nanjing Library has been organizing public training for rural migrant workers, the elderly, children, laid-off workers, and other vulnerable groups”, offering these groups instruction on using computers and digital resources (p.15).
The Nanjing Library provides open access to its resources 365 days a year, providing free parking and and mostly free library cards to patrons. The vast majority of its services are available for free, including reference and all lending services. They also have lectures which are available for patrons at no cost. These lectures vary on different topics, and are considered very important parts of life to the patrons who utilize them. The library has also curated many exhibits,which also attract patrons. The Nanjing Library has worked to digitize sources, which not only provides users a means for access them, in addition to preserving the print resources that they have. A mobile app was created, as well as an RFID self service system, which has touch screens for users to access. The library is also working to get the OCLC WorldCat up and running in the library as well. With all of these services and resources, the Nanjing Library has encouraged people to get involved and actively learn. Particularly community events such as the lectures and the exhibits are designed to bring people into the library and learn, while also bringing patrons in contact with the other services the library provides.
The Nanjing Library is encouraging intellectual freedom by providing digital resources. The library gives users free access to not only Chinese databases, but foreign databases. This helps the community stay globally aware and involved – especially since they’ve also given users touch screen devices for newspaper reading. Their electronic reading room provides users with free internet access and multimedia resources.
Of course, one may question whether there is any censorship given China’s history and political climate. Censorship is a major concern in most libraries, but with China’s history of silencing any political dissent, it does make one concerned about what filters may still be enacted on the digital information users are being given. China has been known to monitor its citizens on the internet, and for citizens to face real consequences from stating their opinions or accessing information. This is also a piece which was written by a librarian who helps run this library, which does bring up some concerns about how unbiased this might be as a source. However, enabling the community to access information online, is sending a positive message that the Nanjing Library is a place of intellectual freedom, which does give one hope that this is a place where information users access is less heavily monitored.

The quest for diversity in library staffing: From awareness to action

Reviewed By: Kelley Presley, Erika Contreras, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/quest-for-diversity/

Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Through a review of relevant literature along with inspecting survey results, the author is able to mine for information on diversity in the LIS profession. Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

The article addresses many questions one may have regarding the lack of diversity in the LIS profession. However, as always, there are still questions yet to be answered. With recent political changes in the United States, there is a question of whether or not diversity in the LIS profession can be achieved. Immigration has become a hot topic, and may severely impact the LIS profession in the United States. In addition, proposed budget cuts to federal library funding could possibly affect any library’s ability to recruit, or hire, any staff, much less a diverse one.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

THE QUEST FOR DIVERSITY IN LIBRARY STAFFING: FROM AWARENESS TO ACTION

Reviewed By: Kelley Presley, Erika Contreras, Jentry Larsen, Sarah Conner, Thomas Fassett

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2016/quest-for-diversity/

Despite the best efforts of the information community in recent years, demographic diversity amongst librarians remains a major opportunity that has yet to be effectively solved. The first step in the journey towards diversity is accepting the lack thereof, followed by the formation of a concrete action plan that will lead our industry to substantial reform. The fact that 88% of the nation’s librarians are white is grossly disproportionate to our country’s actual level of ethnic and racial diversity (Vinopal, 2016). There are several key areas that must be evaluated in further detail in order to effectively problem solve the egregious lack of diversity in the library profession, including but not limited to the definition of diversity, underlying factors behind the absence of diversity, possible implications, a path towards awareness and action, and future directions for research.

Research Questions:
The author is attempting to understand why there is a lack of diversity in the LIS profession and what steps can be taken to overcome this. Also, understanding if there are, and what kind, of biases are inherent in our profession.

Methods:
Through a review of relevant literature along with inspecting survey results, the author is able to mine for information on diversity in the LIS profession.

Vinopal (2016) states that a diverse library staff can better serve the patrons in their community. Diversity is reflected in a library staff in different ways, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, staff with disabilities, etc. The definition of diversity varies from organization to organization, but when one is able to express what they believe diversity is and set a specific goal for achieving it, they are more likely to be successful in their attempts. When a library staff accurately reflects the diversity of the community it serves, it helps to foster social inclusion. (Vinopal, 2016) Emphasizing the role that each librarian takes in empowering the community helps them recognize their impact and feel more valued and less like a statistic.

There are many reasons that contribute to the current lack of diversity in library staffing, such as the level of schooling required to obtain librarian positions. Individuals from low income families have a much lower graduation rate than their peers that come from greater socio-economic backgrounds. The disparity in staffing can also be seen in other ways. One such example is that more people that are white hold a librarian title, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds more commonly hold other titles, like library assistant (Vinopal, 2016). Staff members that are a part of the majority group often lack awareness of the subtle discrimination or simply ignore what they see, thus failing to improve the lack of diversity problem.

When measuring diversity, there are several underlying biases that one must be aware of. Vinopal (2016) examines the use of ClimateQUAL: Organizational Climate and Diversity Assessment. This measuring tool reveals a collective ignorance of the dominant group with their own bias and privilege. This is an assessment of staff’s perceptions along with their library’s commitment to diversity with the policies and procedures that are put in place. Vinopal (2016) explains that the idea of racial preferences in residential neighborhoods and how the dominant culture prefers housing in a not so diverse area. This idea can help people imagine a predominantly white workplace and how that affects the work culture. Employees that are in this particular group are less likely to report racial microaggressions or any other related matters that happen at their work. Therefore, the way underrepresented employees are treated cannot be fully explained because it is not fully discussed in the workplace. The measurement tool can help reveal these biases and lack of awareness that some individuals may have in the library setting, which can in turn help ease their diversity woes.

There is a large and rich body of research that relates to diversity in the workplace. This can assist in examining suggestions to move forward while looking at the pros and cons of these choices. The path from ignorance to making a positive impact can be a steep learning process. Vinopal (2016) notes the IAIT which is research on social cognition based on concepts and stereotypes. Once this information is collected, the group can start on a critical analysis of these assumptions that happen in the workplace and why such behaviors exist. This way, the workplace can start creating a culture that is aware of such biases and starts to challenge the status quo. An important aspect to moving forward is also having a leader who is able to encourage their team to foster a desire for change in the workplace.

Vinopal (2016) remarks that library leaders must leverage their position to enact new policies and programs to show that the library is committed to diversity in action rather than merely talk about it. Actions speak louder than words, and libraries must follow suit. Some of the ways Vinopal (2016) suggests library leadership can begin to make our profession more open and inclusive are: Bias Awareness and Valuing Difference, Name the Problem, Mission and Follow-through, Data Collection, Recruiting, Mentoring, and Pay for Work. Each one tackles biases inherent within the system that must be addressed in order to make library staff more diverse. Open and honest dialogue with staff on a regular basis about discrimination and bias, concrete diversity plans in place, targeting recruiting in diverse communities, mentoring early career librarians in underrepresented groups and paying for qualified interns can all help turn the tide and create a more diverse library staff. These steps and others must be taken once and on a regular basis if lasting change is to occur.

Research on the lack of diversity in library professions has not been widely studied in the LIS literature, and is a subject that most certainly requires further investigation. Vinopal (2016) argues that while there is still much to be studied, these areas are ones that certainly require further investigation: Data on Diversity, Organizational Processes, Attrition and Avoidance, and Leadership. Researchers must look at what can be further studied about underrepresented groups in order to offer insight, the organizational structures are biased and how can they be improved, what the reasons are that minority librarians leave the profession, and how library leaders can positively affect change in their libraries. These are just a small fraction of the answers that are needed in order to understand how libraries can create a more open and welcoming environment to librarians and library staff in minority and underrepresented populations.

Unanswered questions:
The article addresses many questions one may have regarding the lack of diversity in the LIS profession. However, as always, there are still questions yet to be answered. With recent political changes in the United States, there is a question of whether or not diversity in the LIS profession can be achieved. Immigration has become a hot topic, and may severely impact the LIS profession in the United States. In addition, proposed budget cuts to federal library funding could possibly affect any library’s ability to recruit, or hire, any staff, much less a diverse one. How can the LIS profession overcome these new challenges? They must lobby, run for office, and make their voices loud to be heard.

While there are many factors that play a role in the lack of diversity, there are just as many reasons to foster diversity in the library. Vinopal (2016) states, “Our professional library associations affirm a commitment to creating diverse workplaces so that we may better serve diverse user communities, and even support democracy.” One of the essential functions of not only the public library, but most all libraries, is to serve the community and provide access to a whole host of resources. By fostering diversity within libraries, we can reach a wider patron base and create better communities. While the lack of diversity in library professions is not widely researched, it is still important to understand the need for diversity and how it affects the profession and the communities that libraries serve. Creating diverse library communities is a goal that we as library professionals must pursue with vigilance and persistence.

Legislation Without Empathy: Race and Ethnicity in LIS

Reviewed By: Christopher Diaz and Allison Hostler

Link to article: https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/download/3565/3649

Article Review

In the article, Legislation Without Empathy: Race and Ethnicity in LIS, Visconti examines the current status of diversity in the field of librarianship. Specifically he claims that ethnic and racial diversity is an “unresolved diversity issue in LIS,” acknowledging the concentration of the article on race rather than on the diversity of gender or sexual orientation in the library workplace.

The article begins with Visconti recounting a recent library leadership course that he took in which a slide show was presented that discussed “myths” about leadership in the library. During the lecture one slide in particular caught Visconti’s attention. The slide claimed that the idea that one has to be an old white male in order to obtain a leadership role in the library, was a myth. Visconti argues that this may in fact, not be a myth.

Visconti continues by remarking how there has been no growth in the diversity of library professionals in the past two decades. This is attributed to a “disconnect between official policy and our everyday practices.” Essentially, Visconti is stating that although many of our official institutions such as the ALA, have it in writing that their goal is to embrace and enhance a diverse workplace, the field of librarianship is not actually acting on this ideal.

In order to show the lack of growth within the field, Visconti used statistical data from the ALA from the 1990’s and compared it to recent data. The statistics he found supported his claim that there has been no growth in the diversity in the field of librarianship. The statistics also revealed just how unbalanced the diversity is. While African Americans and Hispanics make up 40% of the population, these groups don’t even make up 10% of librarians.

Visconti expands in this idea by noting the difference between diversity and inclusion. The author claims that although the institution of libraries has hired people of color, they are simply meeting a quota because they are not practicing inclusion. Inclusion, to Visconti, includes actually assimilating everything that comes along with adding people of color instead of forcing those people of color to conform to the sustained and officiated “whiteness,” of the profession.

Microaggressions against people of color in the library workforce is also talked about in the article. Visconti notes studies that show people of color are often the target of such aggressions while their White counterparts are not. He continues by noticing that there is specific lack of study on the subject of racism in the library which could be considered racist in itself.

Visconti concludes by noting how librarians always strive to provide services to a diverse patronage but fail to include diversity within their own profession. The author call out for an increase in inclusion and for a more diverse profession.

Article Expansion

Visconti does an excellent job of providing facts and evidence of issues regarding diversity and inclusion in library environments. His article clearly describes the issues in the LIS profession but what the article lacks is a possible solution to the problem. The library must be an environment that makes all feel safe and respected, both patrons and staff, and in order to successfully provide services to the community. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination are not issues that can be solved quickly or even easily. Instead, these issues should be part of a long term goal that the library community is constantly and actively striving towards. Moving forward, we would like to expand this article to explore possible solutions to these issues to further promote diversity in all areas in the library profession.

Possible Solutions

After reading this article it is clear that something must be done in order to assist in eliminating racism and discrimination in the library environment for both patrons and staff. In his conclusion, Visconti mentions the possibility for LIS students to take a course in library diversity during their programs in order to be more cognisant of problems in the area of diversity and inclusion. He also mentions that although some programs offer these courses, students aren’t always taking them as they are offered as electives only. Perhaps these courses should be considered a required course rather than an elective. This way, LIS programs are ensuring that their students are being educated in the subject areas of diversity and inclusion in the library.

Another way in which diversity can be supported through the library community is through programming. Culturally diverse programming could be offered through the library’s services. These events could be centered around a holiday or simply to raise awareness. Programs could also be centered around books, movies, or other materials that feature themes of diversity. Programs that already established in the library, such as story time or art activities, could incorporate diversity into their programs. Patrons could take part in these events and directly benefit from them while library staff would benefit through means of supporting the program and its participants.