Washington Library Association Conference: Panel Presenter

This year (2021, in case you’re not sure) I’ve been invited by the Seattle Public Library to join them in presenting at the Washington Library Association Conference about an inter-library system service I partnered to help develop and lead. Your Next Job is a free one-on-one service where individuals can virtually meet with reference staff to get assistance with job-related tasks, such as: applying for unemployment, learning technology basics, connecting with resources to help job seek, or applying for a job. Last year, I co-led the King County Library System arm of the service (you can read more about that here). I’m delighted to be presenting in my first professional panel to discuss this work!

If you’re planning to attend WLA 2021, we are presenting in-person on October 2nd. My name isn’t on the program information (yet) but I will be there!

Libraries as Neutral Spaces

On March 2nd, Dr. Seuss Enterprises released the following statement:

Today, on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.

We are committed to action.  To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles:  And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry StreetIf I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.  These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.

Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.

(source: https://www.seussville.com/statement-from-dr-seuss-enterprises/)

After this announcement was made, conversations began in the library world about what to do with the six Dr. Seuss titles that would no longer be published. The KCLS system made the decision (it wasn’t a larger conversation, unfortunately) to keep the six books (we have about 50 copies of each, now with LONG waiting lists – with how much these books are selling for, I’m curious how many will actually be returned?). Which then begs the question – shouldn’t something done to educate readers about the content, especially if the publisher themselves are no longer publishing the books due to how they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong” ?

Continue reading “Libraries as Neutral Spaces”

All Good Things Come To An End…Or, At Least, Pause For A Bit!

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been in the role of an Adult Services Librarian at the Auburn Library in the King County Library System. I’ve had the chance to learn so much, do so much, and grow so much in this job.

When I initially took this position in 2019, I was slated to be here until mid-September 2020. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and library building closures, my end date was bumped to the beginning of January. Which means I’m coming to the end of this adventure.

Preparing for this upcoming change been difficult for a few distinct reasons:

Continue reading “All Good Things Come To An End…Or, At Least, Pause For A Bit!”

An Autumn Update

I can tell I’ve gotten busier – my blog has become neglected! I don’t think I could ever have guessed while typing my blog entries earlier this year that the library system would still only be offering online programming. What a strange and interesting time this has been for starting to build experience as a librarian – it should make for a strong foundation I can build my career on going forward.

Which reminds me, one particular bright spot is that the COVID-19 closure prompted HR to extend my temporary librarian position (which was originally slated to end in September) until the beginning of next year. That is, “unless extended, or ended early.” Literally, that is what the email says….nice and decisive.

Here’s some updates as to what I’ve been up to….

Continue reading “An Autumn Update”

BLM: Why is it so hard for some libraries to say?

So, before we dive in to the meaty subject of this post – a COVID-19 update on the librarian front. I’ve filled my work-from-home time becoming a new publisher for the KCLS website (writing blog posts, creating content, etc.), volunteered as one of the judges for the adult entries in the Rhyme On! poetry contest (lots of very emotional poetry, it was more taxing than I anticipated), finished captioning and editing a video interview I was lucky to conduct earlier this year with Alson Kelen, am co-leading a KCLS collaboration with the Seattle Public Library for a new service they are pioneering, stepped up to lead planning for a series of LGBTQ+ community conversations as part of Pride, I’ve created video tutorials that have been shared with all staff instructing on the process of close captioning videos posted on Facebook….I’m sure I’m missing a ton of stuff, but the joke is that my name keeps popping up everywhere recently. Librarians all worried for a while we wouldn’t know what to do working from home, but I’ve definitely been filling my days.

Something I’ve learned about myself on this journey of landing in a library career is that I’m very passionate about the work of libraries. And I can’t help myself – if I feel like the library missed the mark, I say something about it. Bless the eternal patience of my manager, who probably had NO IDEA when he choose to hire the lowly Library Technical Assistant as a temporary Librarian what he was actually getting himself into. He listens to me, he laughs with me, and then he helps me speak up when there is room for my voice to be heard.

And something I can’t help but speak up about quite a bit lately is the disappointing way that the King County Library System leadership has responded to recent events. I’m referring specifically to how we have failed to step up for our Black patrons, Black staff members, and Black communities right now in any way that feels meaningful.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Continue reading “BLM: Why is it so hard for some libraries to say?”

Programming for a Pandemic?

Well I sure picked a weird year to start off my librarian career!

I was off to a strong start – in February I offered a workshop on completing the low-income housing assistance application (which was open in King County for only ~3 weeks) and had 21 people show up (plus their partners/children/etc)! For the Auburn Library that’s a really successful adult program and I was really proud that I was able to offer something so needed by the community.

I was helping to coordinate a special Earth Day event this month that would have hosted several special guest speakers including the mayor of Auburn, the director of KCLS, and real live honeybees! It was going to be awesome…until it got cancelled, along with everything else for the foreseeable future.

My fingers are crossed for summer programming to still happen – I lined up a local improv company to come perform, set up paint and sip events with a local art instructor, and so many other fun things!!

But in the meantime, I’m scrambling to figure out how to best serve patrons in a remote role. I mean, I think all librarians are in a similar boat right now. We’re used to libraries as physical locations and physical resources – but right now, those aspects of service are out of the picture. The community where I work has a prominent disadvantaged population and I wonder about how they’re doing – how they’re staying safe, how shelters are functioning, what libraries could be doing from a distance to support that work. As an adult librarian, what can I do to best help adults during this time?

One thing I did do was I created my own directory of easily navigated links here.

mypage
This is the simple link directory I made – scroll down and there are separate sections for children, tweens/teens, adults, and general Washington state COVID19 information.

I’ve been sharing this directory around on social media and with my coworkers – while this isn’t an official KCLS website, it contains everything you can find on the KCLS website but formatted in a simple, direct way.

 

theirpage
This is the main website for KCLS after it finally got updated with the black header of “Online Resources” – still too busy and difficult to find the really valuable stuff the library has to offer. 

I also researched the senior center locations across King County and compiled a list detailing what services they are currently offering (focusing on meals, mainly).

So I’ve been keeping busy….but right now everything feels so uncertain.

When the US National Archives start censoring historic photos…

To celebrate the 100th year of (white) women’s suffrage, the US National Archives created a special exhibition. At the entrance, a large color photograph of the Women’s March which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration that, when viewed from another perspective, morphs into a different black and white photograph of women marching for suffrage back in 1913. A really impactful visual linking the present to the past.

Except the modern photo had been altered.

Per the Washington Post article on the topic:

The Archives acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred.

And:

“As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in an emailed statement. “Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records. Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records.”

Archive officials did not respond to a request to provide examples of previous instances in which the Archives altered a document or photograph so as not to engage in political controversy.

A sign in the original, unaltered photo of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)An altered version of the sign as it appears in the photograph shown at the National Archives. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Left is a sign in the original, unaltered photo of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington (Mario Tama/Getty Images) while above is an altered version of the sign as it appears in the photograph shown at the National Archive(Salwan Georges/The Washington Post). 



As a fellow information professional, I am speechless that any form of censorship was approved as part of the National Archive’s display. While I can understand not wanting to appear to endorse a certain political statement, an archive presenting historical artifacts as they are – unedited, uncensored, representing the reality of that moment – is simply an archive doing its job. Someone who believes that a political agenda comes with factually representing a historic moment is someone who has much to learn from keeping the truth uncensored and confrontational.

On a somehow both related and unrelated note, it was recently announced that the National Archives in Seattle is closing. The plan is to move the collection out of state into California and Kansas. The most frustrating part of this move is that the collection contains many tribal documents, some which have already been moved out of Alaska down to Seattle. Now those documents will be even further removed from the tribes whose history they, in part, represent.

MY FIRST LIBRARIAN JOB!!

There’s no way I thought, so soon after graduating earlier this year with my MLIS, that I would have news like this – BUT! – I have actually been hired for my first librarian job! It’s a full time, temporary position as an Adult Services Librarian for the Auburn Library in Auburn, Washington (yes, the same city I wrote about here) and was open only to applicants within the King County Library System. It’s kinda the perfect job to serve as a stepping stone into a librarian career.

6829auburnDSC_4004
Photo of the interior of the Auburn Public Library, a branch of the King County Library System. Source here.

I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky. The staff at the Auburn Library seem like an excellent team and I think I will have a set of fantastic mentors to help guide me. In September of next year the person who occupied this position previously will have the option of taking the position back – and my old job as an LTA will be saved for me, although everyone already knows I’m not planning to come back.

My specific job duties will include:

  • providing reader’s advisory
  • answering reference questions
  • managing parts of the collection
  • maintaining and creating community links
  • develop/design/host adult programs

And, frankly, I’m so excited I struggle to express it in words.

A career was never part of my life plans – I was raised in a conservative religious environment where women were actively discouraged from becoming career-oriented (luckily, there has been some progress in recent years regarding this attitude). I had zero professional guidance from my parents – my mother hasn’t worked since getting married and my father joined the Navy after high school, taking various jobs to support his growing family until he landed a job at Boeing (where he’s worked ever since). My siblings and I are all first generation college students, and I’m the first and only to earn a master’s degree and also to be employed in a field requiring a degree. But while I’ve worked hard, I know I have also been fortunate – fortunate that my random job-jumping landed me at Green River College, where I talked with the educational advisor to flesh out ideas for my future. I got hired on to KCLS as an LTA, not a Page – everyone tells me that rarely happens. And now I’m jumping from LTA to Librarian – again, incredibly rare as mentioned to me more than once!

I feel very grateful and equally determined to prove myself worthy of the rare opportunities I’ve been afforded. My start date is December 16th, so in the meantime I think I’m going to put together some ideas for “tools” I can use in my librarian role.

 

Confrontations with history

There is an ongoing struggle in public discourse to tackle how to acknowledging the harm of the past without giving it power to cause harm in the present.

This New York Times article focuses on an excellent example. From the article:

In the debate over the 13 murals that make up “The Life of Washington,” at George Washington High School, one side, which includes art historians and school alumni, sees an immersive history lesson; the other, which includes many African-Americans and Native Americans, sees a hostile environment.

Following the “Continue reading” cut below, I’m going to share a few images of the murals as taken from the article. Content warning for depictions of violence and historical racial oppression.

Continue reading “Confrontations with history”