Northeast Ohio Regional Library System - Event Information

Event Name:Critical Conversations Mini-conference: Tolerance is Not Enough: Libraries Respond to Hate
Competency:Patron Awareness and Customer Service
Description:“No matter what type of library you work in and what type of position you hold in the library, you are embedded in “intercultural labor” every day,” according to Beate Gersch.  In the midst of our busy days we don’t always understand the challenges faced by others.  Do you want to grow in your understanding of how biases impact on service to patrons and on our profession? Are you aware of your personal cultural identity and biases?  “Tolerance is Not Enough: Libraries Respond to Hate” is the theme for the May 3, 2018, Critical Conversations Mini-conference.  Following on the success of last year’s Critical Conversations, NEO-RLS has put together an interactive program focused on helping library staff assess their own cultural identities and biases and on looking at how these biases impact service.  The day-long format will include speakers on the issues of diversity and inclusion within libraries and break-out sessions examining specific responses.  The day will conclude with a panel discussion.  We hope you will join us for this thoughtful and informative day.

Beate Gersch, Assistant Professor of Bibliography, Coordinator of Instruction Services and Undergraduate Outreach Librarian at the University of Akron, who has taught extensively on the topic of cultural identity, will kick off the day.  Dr. Gersch’s interactive presentation is entitled “Library staff and information professionals as cultural brokers: Celebrating the joys and tackling the challenges of cultural diversity and inclusion.”

Whether you work in Reference, teach tech workshops, enhance bibliographic records, or manage collections, you inevitably work as a moderator, translator, negotiator, and navigator of “library culture” for your patrons and your community as they engage with your resources and services. As librarians we comfortably function in our library world, and sometimes the rut of our daily routines keeps us from recognizing barriers or challenges that may exist for others in our library world, including patrons and co-workers.

This interactive presentation looks at libraries as cultures, complete with their own language, rituals, economic contexts, cultural challenges and conflicts. Through the lens of intercultural communication we reflect on our multifaceted identities as librarians and explore strategies to foster cultural diversity and mutual respect in our engagement with patrons and colleagues.

Some of the themes we will explore are:
  • Anxiety-uncertainty management: The first step in managing anxiety and uncertainty is to recognize it. How can we help our patrons navigate and feel comfortable in our library culture, especially if they don’t reveal their apprehension to us? How can we anticipate potential triggers of anxiety and uncertainty and proactively manage them?
  • Intercultural communication competence: How can we improve communication with patrons and co-workers, even when we seemingly speak the same language? While there is no easy recipe to follow or badge to earn, taking a look at our own assumptions and behaviors is a good first step. How can we engage in continuous self-reflection without it becoming an arduous exercise in self-deprecation?
  • Critical librarianship: While this term may be considered a buzzword in academic librarianship, the notion of critical consciousness in our work as librarians applies to all types of libraries. How can we engage our patrons, our colleagues, and ourselves in civic discourse and matters of social justice?
  This interactive presentation will not solve intercultural communication challenges, political discord or social injustice, but it will provide you with ideas to begin conversations, raise important issues, and foster diversity and inclusion in your libraries and communities.

Following Dr. Gersch’s presentation, participants will have a choice of breakout sessions to attend:
  • #LibrariesRespond to Hate  -- Jody Gray from ALA’s Office for Diversity
    It was August of 2014 when riots began in Ferguson, MO in response to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American male, at the hands of a white police officer. As violent protests erupted, the Ferguson Public Library opened its doors and provided a space of refuge for its community. The decisions to have the building open and how staff would support its community happened in a flash moment. Since then, we have seen libraries across the United States responding to civil unrest in their communities.

    This session will give an overview of the American Library Association’s (ALA) #LibrariesRespond movement; how and why it was launched and how it is maintained. In addition, ALA has been tracking hate crimes in libraries since the 2016 Presidential election and will share the data they have collected and share stories from libraries’ impacted by these incidents.
  • Serving the Underserved: Libraries as Community Champions--The Great Recession forced many families and communities to rely heavily on public libraries while libraries across the U.S. are experiencing different levels of budget constraints and reductions in services and staff. Libraries are still playing a critical role in addressing socio-economic disparities in high-crime and poverty stricken communities. Americans agree that libraries help improve the quality of life giving everyone a chance to succeed by breaking multigenerational cycles of poverty. - Shanika Heyward, Regional Manager, Fort Harrison Branch, Indianapolis Public Library and a Library Journal 2016 Movers & Shakers – Change Agents (LJ March 15, 2016).
  • Karen Jensen, Young Adult Services Coordinator at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, will focus on her interactions with African-American students who came to her upset about incidents occurring in their school after the election in November 2016.
  • LGBQ&T Diversity--In this LGBQ & T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, & Trans) focused workshop, participants will explore the social and cultural impacts of identifying as LGBQ and/or T in the U.S. today.  Key concepts and competences for working with members of these communities will be explored.  Some key concepts explored include: gender pronouns, definitions of sexual orientations, explanations of preferred/updated language, and statistics regarding the implications of LGBQ & T discrimination.  Participants will be better prepared to address biased language and inequities toward the LGBQ & T community.  They will leave with increased confidence in their ability to create a library that is respectful, inclusive and affirming for all.--The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio.
Following lunch, Stacy Collins, Liaison Librarian at Simmons College, will talk about what equity means, the use of language and systems of oppression in her presentation, “Ally is a Verb: Anti-Oppression and Systems-Thinking in Libraries.”  As library staff and information professionals, we are committed to equity in our service as well as to being agents of positive change in our communities. Using an anti-oppression lens, this presentation will discuss these goals and the importance of systems-thinking to examine power and privilege and to unpack what equity and allyship truly entail as part of our work.

Participants will then have the opportunity to participate in another one of the above breakout sessions.

Nicole Cooke, Assistant Professor and MS/LIS Program Director at The iSchool at Illinois, will be the last presenter of the day.  Dr. Cooke’s talk is entitled, “Tolerance is Not Enough:  Striving Towards a Critical and Proactive LIS Practice.”  Library professionals are advocates and libraries are proponents of equal access; this access is not solely relegated to books and information within the library. This talk will situate social justice advocacy within LIS and discuss ways for library professionals to expand their cultural competence into a socially just information practice.
The day will end with a panel of all the speakers to be sure that you receive the answers you are seeking.
Dr. Beate Gersch is the Coordinator of Instruction Services at University Libraries at The University of Akron, where she also serves as liaison to the School of Communication and the Department of Modern Languages. She holds a Ph.D. in Media Studies from the University of Oregon, an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University, and an M.A. in American Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Prior to becoming a librarian, she taught at Trinity University and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her experiences as a legal alien and as a researcher of incarcerated populations, as well as her work with students from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds have fostered her interest in exploring the intersections between intercultural communication and information literacy.

Anastasia "Stacy" Collins (she/her/hers) is a Research & Instruction Librarian at the Simmons College Beatley Library where she provides research, teaching, and learning support with an emphasis in critical and anti-oppressive practice. She developed an Anti-Oppression Guide for her library and has given several presentations on equity work in many facets of LIS. Outside of librarianship, Stacy is a children’s literature scholar and reviewer as a facilitator with the Anti-Racism Collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dr. Nicole A. Cooke is an Assistant Professor and the MS/LIS program Director at the School of Information Sciences, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests include human information behavior (particularly in an online context), critical cultural information studies, and diversity and social justice in librarianship (with an emphasis on infusing them into LIS education and pedagogy). She was named a "Mover & Shaker" by Library Journal in 2007, and was the 2016 recipient of the American Library Association's (ALA) Equality Award, and the Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award presented by ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy & Outreach.  Her latest work is Information Services to Diverse Populations (Libraries Unlimited, 2016).

Jody Gray (Lakota) is the Director of ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS).  She has been actively involved with equity, diversity, and leadership development since the beginning of her career. Using a social justice framework, Jody and her team are responsible for programs and services that promote recruitment and retention to the field of librarianship and development of best practices in serving underrepresented communities. She was the Diversity Outreach Librarian at the University of Minnesota for 13 years prior to her position at the American Library Association. She is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She received her MLIS from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Shanika Heyward, the Indianapolis Public Library’s East 38th Street Branch and Fort Benjamin Harrison Branch, Regional Manager, was raised in the East 38th Street community she now diligently serves. Shanika earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science in 2010 from Indiana University’s School of Library & Information Science where she excelled as an Indiana Librarian Leading in Diversity fellow. Shanika received the prestigious Library Journal’s 2016 “Movers & Shakers” recognition for her innovative community efforts dedicated to “giving others the chance to succeed”. Her leadership initiatives focus on providing impactful services and programs, along shaping the future of libraries. Shanika has strengthened her community by establishing partnerships with more than forty non-profit businesses, city officials, businesses, churches and universities to benefit the city’s Eastside residents and those who travel from beyond. In 2015, Shanika received the United North East Community Development Corporation Award for involvement in the community’s improvement efforts. Shanika received three awards focused on community engagement, impact, philanthropy and outstanding library services which included the Forest Manor’s Community Service Champion Award, the Faith-based Love Community Award and the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation- Beth Tindel Award. In addition to her strong history of community engagement, Shanika was recently appointed Vice President- President Elect for the Indiana Black Librarians Network an affiliate chapter of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association

Lunch and light refreshments will be provided.
Event Date:05-03-18
Event Time:09:00 AM - 04:00 PM Eastern
Location:Hilton Garden Inn
8971 Wilcox Dr
Twinsburg , OH 44087

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Contact Person:Melissa Lattanzi
(phone: 330-655-0531)
Details:Who should attend:  Everyone

Cost:  FREE
$25 surcharge for facility use and amenities.

We encourage you to register a minimum of three (3) days in advance for this event in order to ensure that we can accommodate your full participation in terms of seating, hand-outs, food, etc.
Speakers for the Critical Conversations Mini-conference are generously sponsored by an LSTA Open Grant from the State Library of Ohio and by a gift from the Leigh and Mary Carter Family Foundation.

It’s never too late to save your library money. NEO-RLS Memberships are pro-rated! Call us today to join.
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