The things that I’ve found exciting about my residency within the past month, continued. Part 1 can be found here.
Critical librarianship (and all that jazz)
I started listening in on the #critlib discussions prior to starting my residency. In a nutshell, critical librarianship involves zooming in on “the historical, cultural, social, economic, and political forces that interact with information in order to critique, disrupt, and interrogate these forces” (Kenny Garcia, Keeping up with…critical librarianship). Basically, understanding all the nuances that go into mainstream librarianship, whether it’s curriculum development, information literacy, library programming and outreach, or cataloging, and being willing to not just ask the hard questions, but effect change where it needs to happen. As you all know, I’m interested in race, particularly as it relates to the experiences of people of color in America. Within library science, there has been a lot of discussion about what diversity and inclusion means, in hiring practices, in patron populations, and in information resources. (I’ll be writing a blog post more centered on that later.) Over the past month, I’ve been attending events on campus and having conversations with groups and individuals about diversity and social justice initiatives in academia. When I interviewed for this position, I gave a presentation entitled “Differentiated Librarianship: promoting retention of at-risk populations in the academic library.” One of the ways this differentiation could play out is through cross-departmental partnership. Cook Library has an existing partnership with the Center for Student Diversity, including an on-site research help station (at CSD) once a week . I’ll be starting to help with that within the next month. I’m also excited about the ability to implement ideas for further partnerships and joint programming with CSD and other academic and campus life departments. I like it when libraries are not just buildings, but are active partners within their communities. Whatever those communities may be.
Working with historical materials in the BHI collection
Okay, so actually the part that is most engaging is reading the materials. I’ve been working on creating metadata for the Martyrdom & Resistance digitized collections, using CONTENTdm. Reading through accounts of the Holocaust and family members of victims and survivors is both sobering and enlightening. For example, one article I read was about how third generation Germans are only now (2011) discovering the roles their family members played in the Nazi regime and the operation of concentration and death camps. Another article was about a mosque in France that took in Jewish individuals during WWII and gave them false identities as Muslims, thereby saving their lives. There was also the story of Edeltrud Posiles, an Austrian woman who hid her Jewish fiance and his two brothers for the duration of the war. Fun fact: she went on to become a librarian. Wars and conflict bring out the best and worst in people. I’m amazed at the tenacity of human courage, contrasted against the depravity of human selfishness and hatred. And then when I finish pondering all of that, I catalog.
I’ve also been working on prepping print journals/periodicals for the bindery by fixing catalog records and assessing item condition. Fragile and rare items are either being prepared for Special Collections or re-housed in new containers and shelved in the open stacks. Every so often, I get sucked into the materials. Of particular interest were materials in the BHI collection that addressed the Civil Rights movement and racial inequality in America from a Jewish perspective. It’s really fascinating to see that side of history being written about by another othered group.
Hopefully that gives you a small taste of what I’ve been up to. Aside from that, I’ve just been adjusting to being in a new city and meeting new people. Here’s to continued growth as an individual and a professional. Huzzah!