Tag Archives: library

Accessibility of Library Facilities by Wheelchair Users: The Case of Libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria

Article Authored By: Christopher Nkiko, Jerome Idiegbeyan-Ose, Promise Ilo, Ifeakachuku Osinulu, & Goodluck Ifijeh

Reviewed by: Leslie Archuletta, Stephanie Murakami, Jessica Roesch, Meghan Soucier, and Kacy Wilson

Link to article: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/4189/

Article Synopsis

Accessibility is an important commitment that libraries must make in order to ensure diverse and differently-abled users who can benefit from full utilization of library resources. This study examines libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria in order to understand inaccessibility of wheelchair library users. The researchers made personal observations of library buildings which were photographed. The findings of this study indicated that wheelchair users’ needs were not being met. There were no ramps and users often needed to be carried up steps. The desks and shelves were too high and the bathrooms did not have toilets which were wheelchair friendly. Recommendations were then made in order to address the severe lack of thought when designing for differently-abled patrons.

International Perspective

This article represents an international perspective from the standpoint of investigating wheelchair users’ needs at libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria. In addition to Nigeria, the study speaks to libraries in the United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore. The article explains that libraries in developed countries such as the ones listed above have made strides in order to ensure all patrons have access by building ramps and ensuring that circulation desks are able to accommodate wheelchair users. However, the one question which is not answered is: How can international libraries and associations in developed countries help less developed countries? While Nigeria is currently not meeting access needs for differently-abled patrons, perhaps with more developed countries paving the way and greater access to resources, more consideration will be taken when designing their libraries. The article’s recommendations to redesign, enact laws, and for the differently-abled to form groups places responsibility amid a variety of people. Ultimately having equal access to information is a right of all individuals and is important to make sure the differently-abled are included.

Research Questions
1. Is the library building accessible to wheelchair users?
2. Are the heights of the circulation desks accessible to them?
3. What challenges do wheelchair users face when accessing the library catalogues?
4. What challenges do they face when using the library shelves?
5. What problems do wheelchair users face when using the restrooms in the library?

Methods

The assessment was made using qualitative methods. Visits were made to 42 institutions/ facilities in both the public and private sectors. These observational visits took place over a six-month period from February to August 2017. No more than three hours maximum were spent at the institutions/facilities. Observations were recorded on a Surface Pro laptop equipped with Job Access with Speech software. In addition, data sources such as Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) were used. This research was presented through colonial and post-colonial frameworks.

Findings and Conclusions

Accessibility for differently-abled patrons within Nigerian libraries is very limited. Studies found that most library buildings are not wheelchair accessible and are poorly designed for patrons with disabilities. All of the universities located in Nigeria were found to have non-functioning lifts or ramps for their disabled students to use. Universities that had more than one floor were inaccessible for wheelchair bound patrons as well as the visually impaired. This limited the amount of information that could be accessed by their differently-abled patrons. While designing the libraries and universities, there wasn’t any consideration that included patrons with disabilities.
The studies that were done by Nkiko et al. (2020) proved how inconvenient it was for patrons in wheelchairs to navigate through the rows of the libraries. Several of the buildings contained numerous flights of stairs and/or spiral staircases that were inaccessible for wheelchair users. Among the poorly designed buildings, many of the library’s circulation desks were too high for wheelchair-bound patrons to reach. Not only was the height of circulation desks too high, but the card catalogs and the bookshelves were inaccessible as well. This forced wheelchair users to ask for help if they needed an item located on the top shelf. In addition, Nkiko et al. (2020) found that there weren’t any toilets in the bathrooms designed for wheelchair users. The toilets were not designed for people with disabilities that may struggle in using a standard toilet.
After the libraries and universities were built, Nkiko et al. (2020) discovered that several countries are faced with financial hardships. This may make it harder for countries to update and upgrade their libraries to accommodate wheelchair users. People in wheelchairs should be able to move comfortably and freely within the library and reach all parts of the library. Patrons in wheelchairs should be able to gain access to information without having to struggle through the library to get it. If Nigeria chooses to build new libraries in the future, they need to ensure that wheelchair-bound patrons are included in planning and implementing the design.
Nigeria needs to start by updating the libraries they have first by providing ramps at the entrances, moving materials that are unreachable, creating a circulation desk that can be used by all, and adding toilets that can be used by patrons with disabilities. Accessibility to information should be accessed by all individuals, creating spaces that are inclusive for everyone will increase the value of the library. In the end, the government should pass laws to help their underfunded libraries enhance their facilities to accommodate not only the wheelchair-bound patrons but the differently-abled patrons as well. Punishment should be doled out to organizations that break these laws. On the other hand, the differently-abled community should form pressure groups to influence their government in providing access to libraries for everyone.

What American Libraries Can Learn

In the United States, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Universal Access, 2020) address many of the challenges experienced by wheelchair library-users. Although the work of Nkiko et al. (2020) focuses on libraries in Nigeria, it teaches us that all libraries, even when facing financial difficulties, should at least have the following available for wheelchair library users:
• automatic entry-doors
• ground floors equipped with all the facilities and resources available to other library users
• special shelves constructed to house information materials for wheelchair users
• adjustable toilets
• catalogue cabinets that can be consulted while seated
• accessible circulation desks

On a grander scale, the work of Nkiko et al. (2020) stresses to American libraries that inequitable access of differently-abled users is an international issue. No solutions are offered in the work of Nkiko et al. (2020), but common practices put forward by the American Library Association include participating in international relationship roundtables, involving oneself in causes like the Endowment Campaign, and establishing a sister library (IRRT, 2020). In conclusion, greater collaboration is needed between countries so that everyone can utilize the many tools and resources available at the library.

References

International Relations Round Table (IRRT). (2020). American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/rt/irrt/irrtcommittees/irrtsisterlibrary/sisterlibrary.

Nkiko, C., Idiegbeyan-Ose, J., Ilo, P., Osinulu, I., & Ifijeh, G. (2020). Accessibility of library facilities by wheelchair users: The case of libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 4189. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/4189/.

Universal access: making library resources accessible to people with disabilities. (2020). Retrieved October, from https://www.washington.edu/doit/universal-access-making-library-resources-accessible-people-disabilities.

Public libraries as promoters of social sustainability?

Reviewed By: Beatrice Toothman, Patricia Campbell, Garrett Ingalls, and Hollie Marsolino

Link to article: http://informationr.net/ir/18-3/colis/paperC14.html

Public Libraries as Promoters of Social Sustainability?
Beatrice Toothman
Patricia Campbell
Garrett Ingalls
Hollie Marsolino
San Jose State University
INFO 287- Library Services for Racially and Ethnically Diverse Communities
Kristen Rebmann
April 4, 2020

Article Synopsis and International Perspective
Authors, Lisa Engström and Johanna Rivano Eckerdal, from the University of Borås, Sweden presented their paper, “Public libraries as promoters of social sustainability?” at the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019. In their discussion, the authors describe their goal as being to “critically” examine the portrayal of public libraries as contributors toward social sustainability and further explain that importantly within academia as well, the library is often considered to be a “crucial cultural institution, contributing to social cohesiveness and sustainability.” Generally speaking, community libraries are open to everyone and free to use and because of this, libraries the role of the library is emphasized as a place where the community can take an active part.
Engström and Rivano Eckerdal define social sustainability, or the challenges of the same as it could relate to the functioning of civil society and democracy, i.e. social and economic gaps and the growing mistrust of societal institutions, and between individuals or groups of people. According to the authors, in Sweden sustainability in all forms is considered as a general policy goal and can shape cultural policy and in doing so promotes social inclusion in European countries in addition and more broadly on an EU level. Thus, when society seeks to solve problems related to segregation and the lack of social sustainability, libraries are depicted or portrayed as part of the solution.
Further, Engström and Rivano Eckerdal investigate the meanings ascribed to the concept of social sustainability and how public libraries are shaped in relation to it. To achieve their goal, the authors used a selection of policy documents specifically related to Swedish public libraries for analysis. And though their research is specific to Sweden, they argue that it is relevant to a broader context in that considering public libraries and other cultural institutions who are assigned roles in which they act to strengthen social sustainability, is appropriate in other Western countries.
Core Research Questions and Methods
There are a few questions which Sweden could investigate its sustainability development but one method in which it evaluates its libraries is by examining the way the cultural institution is portrayed through policy. The main question that guided this research is posed by Carol Bacchi from 2009 which inquires, “What is the problem presented to be?”. This question is directed towards the social and political policy that encompasses public libraries and how they work towards obtaining social sustainability. This method is an alternative to the usual practice, as Engström and Eckerdal put it, “The method focuses on paying interest to how particular problems are framed and phrased rather than evaluating suggestions on how problems may or may not be solved.” This approach created six areas of focus in which to analyze the library’s social policy by attempting to uncover why issues are problematic and what alternative solutions can be.
The six formulated questions were to be applied to a sample of five library plans that were deemed suitable for the research. The library plans of the municipalities were selected based on their availability along with their geographical spread across Sweden. The five municipalities that were chosen were: Gullspång, Halmstad, Malmö, Sundsvall and Åtvidaberg. Each of their social policies were then reviewed with these six assessments in mind: a) definition of sustainability, b) origin of formulating sustainability as a goal, c) why sustainability is put forward? d) how is sustainability created? e) means to create sustainability and f) the library’s role in relation to sustainability. Sustainability was not the explicit goal of these policies, but the policy was judged on how sustainability was addressed and what role the public library was posturing to solve.
Findings and Conclusions
The authors mention using an “oblique angle” to analyze their findings, which means to come at the problem from a differing view. The library should be at the forefront of social sustainability, not the patrons of the library. The term democratic space is used frequently suggesting that public libraries are open spaces where all members of the community are welcome to engage and move forward in social practice regardless of the types of resources inhabiting the library. The authors assert that social inequality erupts from a disengaged library space. That, in all fairness, a library supports new perspectives, contributes to democratic concepts, and a multitude of ideals.
Summarily, the authors came to the understanding that social sustainability is a continuing process. Although their results were not quantified entirely, the authors note that they have leveraged enough information to rouse future studies on this topic. Their theoretical questions are what all libraries should be asking themselves to find the gaps, find possible challenges and keep the library in a place of awareness.

What American Libraries Can Learn from Global Practice About Designing Services For Diverse Populations
We feel that the most important takeaway from this article is the importance of language. We all know that words innately possess power; but the use of language within the public sphere has the power to make or break the overall perception of an institution’s usefulness, worthiness, and inclusiveness. The authors stress the importance of approaching the manner in which issues are presented rather than the overall importance of the issues themselves as the biggest indicative clue to solving ingrained internal and external sources of conflict surrounding the public library system. Of course, problems concerning diversity, inclusion, democracy in action, and social currency are all important to discuss and work to improve upon in our profession. However, the manner in which these problems are presented by our public institutions have to power to place the blame of failure (for democracy, inclusion, social performance, etc.) entirely on the shoulders of the public for not properly utilizing the last bastion of democracy that is the public library, or entirely on library services themselves for failing to properly engage the public. In other words, the language of right or wrong, blame or or approval, alienation or inclusion; is inadequate to describe the conflicts and opportunities that arise within the environment of the public library.
By utilizing flexible language, and recognizing the fluidity of social and economic issues as well as the ever changing landscape of the LIS profession itself, library professionals can better fulfill their social contract of providing diverse learning services and culturally inclusive programming. This flexibility extends not only to how services are presented to the public, but also how the institution itself frames its ongoing values and mission statement. With an institution of language reformation, failures become opportunities, inaccessibility is an issue that deserves research and inspection rather than reprimand, and diversity is an ongoing conversation with the community at large rather than a rigid set of guidelines meant to be acknowledged instead of instituted. As Americans, it’s as easy to get swept up in political correctness as is it its insidious cousin controversy. It’s easy to assign blame to one thing, person, or idea over another. As LIS professionals, remaining flexible and open to new ideas is par for the course for our jobs. If we take anything away from the ideas presented in this article, it should be the importance of being open to new ideas and new ways of looking at not just what we frame as problems, but the solutions we discover as well. In order to serve the diverse populations that make up our communities, it is vital to remain flexible in our viewpoints, fluid in our use of language, and open to discussion without the fear of blame lurking over our shoulders.

Transformative Praxis – Building Spaces for Indigenous Self-determination in Libraries and Archives

Reviewed By: Myla Perrelli, Jennifer Robertson, Josephine Trott, & Jessica Walker

Link to article: http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/transformative-praxis/

Synopsis
This article looks at the ways in which libraries and archives in Australia can decolonize and indiginize simultaneously in order to provide cultural safety to their communities. The author Kirsten Thorpe believes that much importance lies in the praxis, or combination of reflection and action within the context of theory and practice, as it relates to the work that needs to be done with regards to Indigenous peoples. A stronger and more direct dialogue is needed on the subject of Indigenous people and decolonization within the library community in addition to more direct action. The importance of cultural interface, or the different awareness and knowledge that people have on a subject, is discussed. The article thoroughly delves into important areas where work needs to be done in institutions and research with the goal to provide solutions. These areas include utilizing Indigenous research methodologies, working locally with Indigenous peoples, and resourcing the decolonization and indigenization with time and money. Additionally, the author is an Indigenous archivist from Australia who has 20+ years of experience working in the field. Her family on her mother’s side are Worimi people from a coastal region of Australia.

Core Research Questions
For this article, the core questions are explicitly written in the text. They are:
“ How can libraries and archives engage with indigenous peoples and communities to build mutual partnerships within current frameworks?” (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 3)
Can libraries and archives build spaces with respect to indigenous people, or will they continue to ignore their role of “perpetuating colonial system and structures”? (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 3)

Historically, the organization of information in Australian libraries and archives have continually ignored input or voice from the Indigenous peoples and communities. The author stresses throughout the article that ignoring the Indigenous people’s perspectives, will continue to harm the community and possibly traumatize the multiple generations with colonial centric histories. Practices cannot merely change overnight without community partnerships and engagement. The author questions how we can create mutual partnerships, given the current organization in current libraries and archives.

In the past, there has been an effort in creating library and archive spaces for Indigenous communities; however, “many projects and services were being designed without Indigenous community input or perspective” (Thorpe, 2019, p.1 para. 9). Problematically, Indigenous peoples were asked to approve of new projects only after they have been designed and created. These finished projects had little to no input or collaboration from the communities in which they were for. If Australian libraries and archives want to build and design spaces with respect to the Indigenous communities that exist in Australia, the author argues that there needs to be an effort to collaborate with Indigenous people and decolonize the classification, description, and organization of the existing system.

Methods
Thorpe uses a qualitative examination of personal experiences, or autoethnography, according to the guidelines laid out by Houston (2007) to consider the core questions. The data for this self-study is acquired through Indigenous Standpoint Theory (IST) and evaluated using Cultural Interface as detailed by Nakata (2007). Standpoint theory is an individual’s ability to understand how their perspectives have been shaped by the dominant, usually conflicting, culture. IST specifically looks at how the dominant culture has erased, misrepresented, and suppressed ancestral cultures and languages to perpetuate assimilation. This provides context for identifying the instances of suppression that arise in the everyday life of Indigenous people. These instances are also the root of much distrust with the institutions in question. Cultural interface uses the intersection of Indigenous people’s ancestral identity and colonizer culture to witness systematic conflicts. Using the cultural interface, instances identified with IST can be evaluated based on how much personal harm and trauma is inflicted. Thorpe (2019) considers both the “experiential and intellectual” impact of these instances (Thorpe, p.1, para. 5). This qualitative information is used to inform ways they can be used in praxis to decolonize libraries and archives. In doing so, the oppressive power systems can be eliminated to create supportive spaces and systems for Indigenous people.

Findings
The main finding of the study is that in order to make archives and libraries more supportive of indigenous populations, various goals must be achieved. The first of which is that “indigenous research methodologies” must be utilized (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para 20). For example, the Kaupapa Maori Theory provides great framework for challenging the “dominant systems of power”, or in other words, the library and archival structures that oppress indigenous populations (Thorpe, 2019, p.1, para. 6). The next component is to use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to guide library and archive practices. Another idea is to consult leaders in the indigenous community for their advice, work with them to prioritize goals and adopt protocols that are applicable to these groups. Additionally, collaborative members could create plans that will put these protocols into action. Librarians and archivists need to respect indigenous groups’ values and build a relationship of mutual benefit. It is also important to increase representation of indigenous peoples in leadership positions such as on library boards. Leaders need to understand that the process of creating a supportive environment requires changes that must be made to work, with time and resource division. Lastly, advocate for studies of indigenous populations as a core component of curriculum in library and archive courses.

What can American libraries learn from this?
American Libraries can learn from the international perspectives that the populations the library is looking to serve should be leaders for developing services. Key groups in the community must be consulted and power structures of the library must be examined. Libraries need to be willing to look at the underlying structural components of their organizations that may marginalize groups in their community and be willing to change them.

White librarians in particular have a lot of work to do. Indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities should not have to bring this work forth alone. It needs to be an effort that takes into account the trauma and emotional/cultural safety of the community that the librarian works and resides within.

Librarians and archivists also need to understand that there are different cultural practices and beliefs between multiple Indigenous communities. If they want to design spaces for them, then collaboration needs to happen before, during, and after the process. Librarians must recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all in creating these information spaces, so the process will need to be revisited several times, with each distinctive Indigenous group.

Essentially, Americans libraries were designed in a colonized system which has been shown to be oppositional and harmful to Native Peoples. This article draws attention to the ways in which American libraries may be similarly hostile to Indigenous Americans. To consider the actionable ways to decolonize the system, as laid out in the article, provides a starting point for local research and understanding of the methods for measuring and collecting community input.

References

Houston, J. (2007). Indigenous autoethnography: Formulating our knowledge, our way. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 36(S1), 45-50.

Nakata, M. (2007). Disciplining the savages: Savaging the disciplines. Canberra, A.C.T.: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Thorpe, K (2019). Transformative praxis: Building spaces for Indigenous self-determination in libraries and archives. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/transformative-praxis/

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.