Category Archives: Libraries & Museums

Other Duties as Assigned: Front-line librarians on the constant pressure to do more

Source: Anne Ford, American Libraries, January 2, 2019

Maybe it existed only in our collective imagination—the era when librarians focused solely on providing access to written information, and when their greatest on-the-job challenge consisted of keeping the stacks in order. Whether that halcyon time ever actually took place, it’s definitely not here now. Social worker, EMT, therapist, legal consultant, even bodily defender: These are the roles that many (perhaps most?) librarians feel they’re being asked to assume.

American Libraries asked seven librarians—public, academic, and school; urban and rural—their thoughts about the many directions in which their profession finds itself pulled….

Underrepresented, Underemployed: In the library-job search, some face special barriers

Source: Anne Ford, American Libraries, Vol. 49 nos. 11/12, November/December 2018

….White’s concerns represent only some of the potential obstacles that people from underrepresented demographic groups face when applying for positions in the library field—a field that remains about 86% white and 97% able-bodied (per the 2017 ALA Demographic Survey, which did not ask about sexual orientation.)

Because the library profession has been trying to diversify itself for a long time—particularly racially, and particularly through initiatives such as diversity task forces and diversity fellowships—some may be surprised that people from underrepresented communities still encounter barriers to library employment….

The Salary Question: Negotiating the ins and outs of earning a fair compensation

Source: American Libraries, Vol. 49 nos. 11/12, November/December 2018

For more than 10 years, David Connolly has interacted with job seekers and employers in his role as recruitment ad sales manager with ALA JobLIST, the online career center administered by American Libraries, ACRL’s College and Research Libraries News magazine, and ALA’s Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment. We asked Connolly for his insights on salary negotiations, including the biggest mistake applicants make regarding salary…..

Unions 101: What library unions do—and don’t do—for workers

Source: Carrie Smith, American Libraries, Vol. 49 nos. 11/12, November/December 2018

….According to a report from the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees, in 2017 union librarians and library assistants earned on average 31% more per week than their nonunion equivalents. Union library workers are also more likely to have health coverage, retirement plans, and sick leave, the report states.

Yet library unions are as diverse as libraries themselves. Public library workers may be organized in a library-specific union that represents librarians and other staff, or they may be a part of a larger municipal union that represents city or county workers. Academic librarians can find themselves part of a larger faculty union or librarians-only bargaining unit, while school librarians are often members of the local teachers union. Most unions don’t include members in supervisory positions.

The landscape is complex, and it’s difficult to paint a picture of library unionism with one brush, but there are commonalities workers should know…..

Navigating Law Librarianship While Black: A Week in the Life of a Black Female Law Librarian

Source: Shamika D. Dalton, Gail Mathapo, and Endia Sowers-Paige, Law Library Journal, Vol. 110 no. 3, 2018
(subscription required)

The ideal work environment provides a sense of purpose and validation. Inevitably, however, unconscious or implicit biases permeate the workplace because we all have them. These biases can be based on race, age, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, physical disability, and other characteristics. Implicit bias in the workplace can “stymie diversity, recruiting and retention efforts, and unknowingly shape an organization’s culture.” People of color, in particular, experience challenges as a result of racial microaggressions in the workplace.

Racial microaggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Racial microaggressions may not raise an eyebrow right away, but they are harmful to the work environment. Due to their subtle nature, racial microaggressions can be “difficult to identify, quantify, and rectify.” For this reason,
Derald Wing Sue and colleagues identified three forms of racial microaggressions: microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. …. For women of color, these effects are amplified as they have to endure both racial and gender microaggressions in the workplace. ….

The 21st Century Library

Source: James Bikales, Harvard Political Review, October 8, 2018

….While the American foray into the digital age would lead many to classify libraries as obsolete, the continued — if not heightened — importance of the library’s core mission to provide knowledge, as well as new skills of librarians and changes to the design of libraries, make them relevant in our changed world. Their continued evolution will be essential to the future of scholarship and citizenship….

“Could My Dark Hands Break through the Dark Shadow?”: Gender, Jim Crow, and Librarianship during the Long Freedom Struggle, 1935–1955

Source: Alex H. Poole, The Library Quarterly, Vol. 88 no. 4, October 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article illuminates the role of southern African American female librarians during the long civil rights movement (1930s through 1960s). Black women faced the “double jeopardy” of race and gender, but college-educated, “Female Talented Tenth” members such as Mollie Huston Lee and other North Carolina librarians committed to personal and community uplift. Institutions such as the North Carolina Negro Library Association (1935–55) and the Richard B. Harrison Library (established in 1935) were incubators of innovative resistance strategies to white racism and were crucial in setting the stage for direct action in the 1960s.

An Overdue Discussion: Two takes on the library-fine debate

Source: Phil Morehart, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

Whether to charge fines for overdue materials is a hot-button topic. The issues are many: Some libraries have halted the practice, citing concerns that fines keep patrons away, while other libraries have kept them in place as vital revenue streams. Fines are also used by some libraries as a method to teach personal responsibility, while other libraries consider that lesson outside the realm of librarianship. We spoke with a librarian on each side of the debate….

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: Advice for managers and leaders

Source: Ryan J. Dowd, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

….Working with difficult homeless individuals is hard. Managing people who work with difficult homeless individuals is harder. There are two equally challenging problems:
– staff members who are terrified of conflict and avoid all confrontation by not enforcing any rules
– staff members who think they are Rambo, turning every mild conflict into World War III

It is easier to help a timid staff member become assertive than it is to help an aggressive staff member be polite. I am not sure why this is, but hot-headed employees usually cannot rein it in for very long. They can get better for a little while, but eventually emotions take over and they lose their cool. Timid staff, on the other hand, grow only more confident as they get experience.

There are some tactics that can make you more effective…..