Reflection #2: Hyperlinked Communities and the importance of diversity in the library profession

Where are all the Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color  in Academia

While reflecting on Module #5: Hyperlinked Communities, I began to think crucially about one particular section within an article in our readings. The article, “Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond” by Christian Laurensen discusses the importance of diversity in the library profession in order to bring about inclusion within all libraries. Laurensen states that ” a uniform white library workforce is most likely not to create diverse and inclusive libraries to serve their communities because we think alike”.

This profound statement truly resonated with me as I thought back to the beginning of my career within the field of librarianship and the lack of diversity there is among my fellow staff members. Other research has been done on the issue of diversity within the field of librarianship, and the results show that White (non-Hispanic) people are overwhelmingly represented in the field of librarianship.

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Image credit: https://chrisbourg.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/the-unbearable-whiteness-of-librarianship/

The only way to make changes within the communities are to in fact invest in diverse employees and implement policies that actively work towards a more inclusive library that provides equitable access of information to marginalized communities. Also, libraries must strive to place people of color in leadership roles so all voices of the community are heard all the way up to administration, where change can truly occur within the library system. Only by devoting the time, energy, and staff involvement, will these actions for inclusion and diversity become a reality.

While thinking back to my own personal experiences as a solo Library Associate, I quickly became aware of the marginalized communities within the town of Knights Landing. Prior to my employment, I became aware that all programs and activities were only offered in English because the previous staff members did not speak Spanish. By not making accommodations for those who are not English speakers, this reflected how noninclusive the Yolo County Library was. I knew there were changes that needed to be made. The first change needed to a more inclusive programming method.

I began making all library programs and activities bilingual and created all program flyers in both English and Spanish. I did not want to divide the community simply because of linguistic differences, but wanted to merge community members together. As Dr. Michael Stephens states, “Hyperlinked communities are people”. I myself believe this statement as well.

I soon offered bilingual programs such as “Loteria” (a popular Latin American game similar to Bingo) and welcomed non-Spanish speakers as well as non-English speakers to these events. By focusing on the game of Loteria and sharing the similar experience at one table, community members who were afraid to practice their English speaking skills with native English speakers began to muster up the courage to talk to their neighbor at the table and conversations began occurring in both English and Spanish. I knew that by bringing two communities together, this was the way to enact change and inclusion within my library.

After seeing the success of my Loteria nights at the library, I began to try new programs that may be of interest to the community, such as “Cafecito y Crafts” (Coffee and Crafts). The library provided all materials and I would facilitate the program. I always made sure to emphasize that every program would be in English and Spanish. This became of relief to families who were Spanish speaking, but still wanted to learn the English language. I also believe this trust within the library grew because I was the second bilingual Latina librarian to work in this particular branch. This allowed me to relate to the community on numerous levels and understand their needs. Below, I have added a photo from on of the “Cafecito y Crafts” nights where the women made paper flowers, a common craft within the Mexican culture.

As a woman of color passionate about the field of librarianship, I have been able to see how important diversity is within this profession. It is much more than being able to communicate with various community members in a particular language, it is about having their needs heard and actively finding ways to reduce barriers. Hyperlinked communities can only be successful if we as librarians work towards making the library an inclusive space for all.

References

Laurensen, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond. Christian Laurensen.net. https://christianlauersen.net/2018/06/07/inclusion-and-belonging-in-libraries-and-beyond/

Context Book Report- It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Book Review 1

Image Source: Amazon.com

Boyd, D. (2014.) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Is internet addiction an issue among teens today? Within the book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, written by Dana Boyd, she delves into the question of whether teens are obsessed with online communication and social media platforms. As many adults are quick to answer “Yes, teens are glued to their phones and computers.”, Boyd takes a look at the modern teenager and how teens today crave social interaction. Before the days of cell phones and Twitter, many teens physically met up at malls or had sleepovers and socialized face-to-face. Today, parents are swamped with busy work schedules and teens are involved in multiple afterschool activities, so it becomes hard to make time for teens to physically join together and socialize.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have now made it easier for teens to connect online and have established multiple ways for teens to connect. This new element of social media platforms has made teens question how they would like to be perceived online through the pictures they post, the comments they make, etc. This online identity has allowed teens to express themselves in a whole new way and get out into “the real world” online. When discussing online identities Boyd expresses that, “They (teens) are struggling to carve out an identity that is not defined solely by family ties.” (2014, p.29). This craving to be seen and heard in the world along with the overwhelming amount of social media presence from celebrities, has in turn made teens eager to be seen. Therefore, causing an obsession with how many “Likes” they receive or how many “Views” they get on their posted materials. 

The emphasis on “fostering social connectedness” is one key element that Boyd has used to write this book and explain the social behaviors of teens online. This urge to be connected to not only their friends, but the entire world has given teens the opportunity to explore the virtual world without leaving their homes. With information only a click or tap away, it is clear to see how many teens are using social media to find their place in the world, whether it be with a community in-person or solely online.

Some schools have even taken notice of the power social media and mobile devices have on today’s youth and have incorporated the social web and multimedia tools into their students’ educational experiences (Tomlin, 2010). Academic libraries are also shifting their materials to be more accessible on mobile devices after taking notice of the role technology plays in students’ lives and realigning themselves with the digital world (Mathews, 2012). These changes are only a few ways technology has impacted the way teens interact and access information.

100 Ideas To Engage Your Community Online | by Bang The Table | Medium

Although parents of teenagers worry that their teens are spending too much time with friends online, have yet to reflect on the fact that technology is merely a “fad” and being with friends online is “the cool place” rather than being in person with their friends due to the appeal of unlimited access to information and connection. Parental “moral panics” about who their children are talking to as well as cyberbullying should be subsided according to Boyd (2014, p. 61). Due to the fact that so many teens have access to social media, Boyd believes that cyberbullying can be seen by a wider audience and therefore can be stopped faster rather than gossip whispered in the school hallways (2014, p. 77). And in regards to parents’ fear of sexual predators, Boyd states that, “Internet-initiated sexual assaults are rare. The overall number of sex crimes against minors has been steadily declining since 1992, which also suggests that the internet is not creating a new plague.” (2014, p.111). Although online bullying and sexual predators in chat rooms can indeed happen to teens, there is no evidence showing that these crimes have dramatically increased due to the use of various social media platforms. Therefore, parents should not fear the internet and believe the distorted information exaggerated by the news media, but rather educate teens on how to interact with each other on social networks safely. 

Taking Selfies Is Probably Fine For Your Self-Esteem. Editing Them Might Not Be – Research Digest

Boyd then examines teens’ view of privacy and is surprised to learn that despite the amount of information teens are posting on their social media accounts, they do in fact want privacy. Teens use agency, or power, to regulate the amount of information that is shared about themselves to their audience. Boyd states, “Social media has become an outlet for many youth, an opportunity to reclaim some sense of agency and have some semblance of power.”(2014, p.134). Teens decide how much interactivity they want so they can separate the online identity from their offline identity. Also, teens yearn for connectivity with their peers through the use of social networks and begin to demonstrate their own identity through sharing and creating information. Finally, teens allow access to others via their social network platforms by giving someone permission to “follow” them on Twitter or accepting a “Friend Request” on Facebook and therefore sharing and accessing new information from various perspectives. 

Overall, Boyd does an excellent job in explaining how teens interact with the use of technology in today’s society. As teens begin forming their own opinions and identities, the internet has given teens a platform to express themselves freely. This use of social media allows teens to find their place in their world by connecting with others, increasing their knowledge, and developing who they are through the information they choose to share. It is crucial that regardless of age, we as a community and consumers of the digital age work together and learn to increase our digital literacy and become accustomed to social networks and technology.

References

Boyd, D. (2014.) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Common Sense Ratings & Reviews. (2018, September 10). Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences [Video]. YouTube. 

Mathews, B. (2012). Think Like a Startup. Brian Mathews.   https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y 

Tomlin, P. (2010, June 21). Unquiet Library Has High-Schoolers Geeked. American Libraries Magazine. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2010/06/21/unquiet-library-has-high-schoolers-geeked/

Reflection Blog #1: Do not fear change, embrace it!

While reflecting on the Module 3 lecture, I was particularly interested in Dr. Stephen’s discussion of staff and faculty within a library being unwilling to accept change. This fear of change is something that I have overcome within my role as solo Library Associate. Prior to accepting this position, I learned that I was the second bilingual Library Associate in the Knights Landing Library although the community of Knights Landing is over 80% Latinx. I was distraught to learn that previous solo librarians who worked in the Knights Landing Library not only were middle class older Caucasian women, but they themselves never sought to accommodate the Spanish speaking community that utilizes the services of the library the most.

It also bothered me that although there were many children within the community, the previous librarians did not want the children in the library because all they would do was “play”. This notion of not allowing children to play in the library seemed archaic to me. As noted by Stephens (2010) in the article, The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate, he states, that play is equivalent to learning and that it is crucial to, “Make space and allow time for ‘play’ in your library”. I firmly believe that play is important as well and was prepared to make a change within the library as the new solo Library Associate.

My first action as the new solo Library Associate was to promote family and children’s programs more frequently. I also offered all programs in both English and Spanish so that those who were not comfortable speaking English, knew that the library is now a welcoming environment for them.

For example, I was able to bring a mobile video game truck to the Knights Landing Library for the children to play and become more familiar with different video games. The need for digital literacy is crucial in areas such as Knights Landing, where internet access is seen as luxury in the community and that hot spots are always checked out from the library. These programs may seem to be unimportant and not library-related, however I firmly believe that technology and STEM programs need to be emphasized in rural communities in order for the children to receive equitable resources from the library.

I also promoted a weekly STEM activity during the summer for children to come and play. I often chose activities that were more hands-on for the children and gave them an opportunity to have fun. In the picture below, I had children perform an “Elephant toothpaste experiment” that allowed the children to have their own experiment and see the reaction hydrogen peroxide has when mixed with warm water. As you can see, the children were inside the library and were laughing and smiling during this program. Although some staff may view this as chaotic, I fully embraced this moment and was happy to have the children playing and learning in the library.

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