Recent Posts

  • LGBTIQ Library Issues: Gender and Sexual Orientation First, I want to quote the Kottak text in chapter 9 as it defines gender: “Gender refers to the behaviors and meanings that societies assign to males and females, based ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 1:37 PM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Impoverished Population As librarians, it is our job to provide information to everyone. However, to keep our own budgets in line and ensure equal access to materials, most libraries do have fee ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:51 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Racial Minorities It is difficult, looking back and seeing all the horrible things we have done as a society when it comes to the mistreatment of African Americans and other racial minorities ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:51 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Immigrants Being proactive about immigrant outreach is necessary. There is no reason for any institution to not have and promote these services. We should be seeking to promote information about our ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:44 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Native Americans I will say that I understand that why denied services to Native Americans have happened in the past (and why they still happen), but I don't think it has ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:38 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • English as a Second Language Spanish-speaking/ESL individuals deserve the same access to information that libraries provide as much as everyone else. In Chapter 15 of the On Being Different, Kottak discusses "Linguistic Relativism ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:35 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Community Analysis I think that it is so important to think about ALL of the different people that use the library. This can be difficult at times, because there really are a ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:31 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Mental Illness For many, mental illness can mean different things, and many people are high functioning individuals that are living every day with a mental illness but most people around them never ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:28 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
  • Religion It is our jobs as librarians to lead people to information and provide them information. We may not "agree" with the information which the patrons are seeking, but nonetheless, we ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:51 AM by Tyler Wilmoth
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LGBTIQ Library Issues: Gender and Sexual Orientation

posted Jul 20, 2017, 1:37 PM by Tyler Wilmoth

First, I want to quote the Kottak text in chapter 9 as it defines gender: “Gender refers to the behaviors and meanings that societies assign to males and females, based on perceived distinctions linked to sex or anatomy. However, we also know that gender also is shaped by historical, environmental, economic, political, and cultural forces.”

The idea of gender is a social construct that is implanted in our brains from a very early age. These constructs often dictate how we act in society and how many of us react to different individuals when working with the public. I think I have said this in almost every blog post this semester (or some semblance thereof), but libraries are meant to be a safe-haven and informational resource for EVERYONE, including all genders and sexual orientations.  

I feel that we live in a society that places lots of emphasis on gender and does not treat everyone fairly. 

Have you ever witnessed someone or have you personally been treated unfairly because of gender/sexual orientation? Does this happen in libraries?

As a side note, I think it’s interesting that in Kottak, in the chapter about sexual orientation, there is a picture of what appears to be a heterosexual couple as an example of public displays of affection. While heterosexuality is indeed a sexual orientation, I would personally have chosen a homosexual couple for the picture. I think the presence of this picture further proves that LGBTIQ individuals need more visibility.

Take a look at the referenced picture on page 169 in the text. Do you think this is an appropriate display of affection for a public setting such as a library? If so, would you feel differently if it were a homosexual couple?

A large part of promoting diversity, especially when it comes to inclusion of the LGBTIQ community, must start with examining your own thoughts on the subject. If you want to promote inclusivity and diversity in your library (and you should) you must be willing to go the extra mile and bring visibility to these marginalized groups.

In James Carmichael Jr.’s book Daring to Find Our Names, he discusses one of the jobs of librarians as being “cultural enforcers and preservers.” I think this is a true statement as of course we preserve books, but as I stated earlier it is our job to promote the research and study of many different cultures and populations. In order to do this, we have to make sure that everyone is welcome in the library without fear of discrimination and achieving this requires reaching out to underserved populations, in this case the LGBTIQ community.

Something else Carmichael discusses is being publicly “out.” I don’t know any LGBTIQ individual that believes coming out is easy. Yes, it gets easier over time and with every person you tell. But it is still difficult. You don’t know how people are going to react and I do think that in some situations it is not safe to come out, so it’s something you have to be careful about. You have times where you feel fake and you feel so distant from everyone because you are quite honestly scared for your life. As librarians, we are a resource for people and no one should feel uncomfortable approaching us about any subject (this is even part of the RUSA standards anyway!). As stated in the Schrader article, LGBTIQ inclusivity should not simply be practice, but it should be made policy to ensure protection of this marginalized population.

In the book Gay and Lesbian Library Service, chapter 9 is about making the library more user-friendly for gay and lesbian patrons. The very first topic in this chapter is “Educating your colleagues.” Many people, especially in the South, have grown up in families that look negatively upon the LGBTIQ community (myself included). With that being the case, it is up to us to educate our colleagues and peers on LGBTIQ issues, current events, and progress. This is the first step to increasing visibility for this community in the library as the people that work there need not only to be “on board” but need to be knowledgeable about these sensitive issues.

How well do you think your peers at your workplace deal with LGBTIQ issues? Is it something promoted? Is it discussed at all? Is it discussed in a negative way? If so, what could you do to change it?

Promotion and awareness of LGBTQ issues in each and every campus and community is important to change the ideas of those people and groups who think less of or look down upon LGBTQ individuals. As library and information science professionals, we have a unique position that allows us to promote these issues community and even worldwide in order to gain acceptance and understanding on behalf of our patrons in the LGBTQ community (Mehra & Braquet, 2007). Libraries are the only source of information on these subjects for some people—kids, teenagers, and adults alike. We have to make sure we have substantial materials on LGBTIQ subjects and that our libraries are a place of inclusivity.

References
Carmichael, James V., Jr. (1998). Daring to find our names: The search for lesbigay library history. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Gough, C., & Greenblatt, E. (1990). Gay and lesbian library service. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland.

Kottak, C. P., & Kozaitis, K. A. (2012). On being different: diversity and multiculturalism in the north american mainstream. New York, NY: Mcgraw-Hill.

Mehra, B., & Braquet, D. (2007). Library and Information Science Professionals as Community Action Researchers in an Academic Setting: Top Ten Directions to Further Institutional Change for People of Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities. Library Trends, 56(2), 542-565.

Schrader, A. M. (2009). Challenging silence, challenging censorship, building resilience: LGBTQ services and collections in public, school and post-secondary libraries. Feliciter, 55(3), 107.

Impoverished Population

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:50 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:51 AM ]

As librarians, it is our job to provide information to everyone. However, to keep our own budgets in line and ensure equal access to materials, most libraries do have fee/lost book policies that are necessary not only to hold patrons accountable for returning items but to replace items when necessary and provide funds to other areas of the library. I too had not really thought about fees deterring patrons from checking things out until I went to Portugal earlier this summer and talked with some public librarians there. They do not charge late fees, they only ask that patrons replace materials they lose and even then they really have no enforcement because they want everyone to feel welcome to use their materials and services. They said that they really do not have very many problems and people are generally cooperative and return materials on time as well as replace lost and damaged items with no fuss. I think that in America, the general public seem to have different attitudes compared to those in Portugal as many of the people there seem to generally care about the well-being of the community whereas I have come in contact with many patrons here at home that only care about themselves and what we can do for them individually and how they can take advantage of us. So I do think we need the accountability of fees here.

Class consciousness is a reality. People do tend to know where they stand in society and often look at other people differently because of it. However, in a library, everyone truly is treated the same. The same policies apply to everyone and the same fees accumulate regardless of social standing. Accountability for using shared community materials is a very good thing to have and should not keep people away from using the library, but should encourage them, because it is an equal playing field.

As mentioned an article about the ALA's Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty task force, there are questions we should ask ourselves before judging or assuming we know how to "handle" homeless and impoverished patrons. Without identifying the struggles of and empathizing with these individuals, it is really not fair to make assumptions about this population being treated differently than any other group.

Racial Minorities

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:47 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:51 AM ]

It is difficult, looking back and seeing all the horrible things we have done as a society when it comes to the mistreatment of African Americans and other racial minorities. It is especially difficult when you want to showcase the diversity of your town in decades past, only to realize after looking and searching for something, there just isn't much there because we are in the south and as much as it infuriates me, I still see lots of confederate flags on people's cars and houses. BUT, even though we can't change the past, we can change what is happening now and be proactive about not only including marginalized populations but actively reaching out and having programming that highlights these groups.

Immigrants

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:44 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:44 AM ]

Being proactive about immigrant outreach is necessary. There is no reason for any institution to not have and promote these services. We should be seeking to promote information about our country-learning to live here and learning how to become a citizen if they are not one already.

Not only can immigrants learn about the country, but they can use other library services to better themselves by finding jobs, creating resumes, and perhaps preparing for an education here. Libraries should be an inviting starting point for immigrants.

Native Americans

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:38 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:38 AM ]

I will say that I understand that why denied services to Native Americans have happened in the past (and why they still happen), but I don't think it has really ever been justified, like many discrimination issues that have been allowed to happen in our country.

So this IS a discrimination issue. As librarians, we are supposed to offer information and services to all types of people in our communities. I like the idea of libraries working with Native American communities and libraries to share resources and learn from each other, with the byproduct of sharing patrons. There is no need to restrict access to materials or services of these populations...it isn't doing anything to better our society as a whole.

One barrier to the ability to share library resources is librarians' understanding of Native Americans' information needs. The article also states that in the past few decades, this understanding has increased greatly in our libraries. So my question is does the past discrimination come in part from an unwillingness to learn about and serve the Native American populations?

Another solution presented is Distance Education programs for Native American communities, and this refers to classes as well as the library's digital resources. In the Adams & Evans article however, it states that the Native American population does better academically in a face-to-face environment where they are allowed to have interactions and be prompted to ask questions to further their learning. Obviously, each individual is different, but this is a substantial enough observation to validate offering this community the ability to physically be on campus or in the library to use services.

In the end, I think if access to library resources is being denied to local Native American communities, it is an issue of unnecessary discrimination.


Post Reference: Adams, T. M., & Sean Evans, R. R. (2004). Educating the Educators: Outreach to the College of Education Distance Faculty and Native American Students. Journal of Library Administration, 41(1/2), 3-18. doi:10.1300/J111 v41n01_02

English as a Second Language

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:34 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:35 AM ]

Spanish-speaking/ESL individuals deserve the same access to information that libraries provide as much as everyone else. In Chapter 15 of the On Being Different, Kottak discusses "Linguistic Relativism." Just for everyone's benefit, Kottak defines this as the recognition of all known languages and dialects as effective means of communication. I'm sure you have all heard it, especially in today's political climate, that long-portrayed stereotypes about native Spanish speakers still run rampant in America. Living in the south, I have heard that Spanish-speakers should learn English or leave, and that if they cannot speak English, they do not deserve the same rights and services as those that can. It is a very backwards way of thinking. Earlier this summer, I spent a few weeks in Portugal and it was interesting to me how many people there could speak multiple languages. One person I talked to could speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French all fluently, and you could tell this was the case with a lot of people there. I realize that in Europe, these countries that speak different languages are in close quarters, but they start their children learning other languages the first day of primary school, if not before. I think this is a concept that Americans cannot grasp and I think it puts us at a disadvantage. The text talks about certain cultures (especially in American) believing that their language is superior, and it does state that these are for cultural reasons. If only in America we pushed more to learn other languages at a younger age, I think we wouldn't have as many disparities when it comes to serving ESL individuals in the library.

In an article, "Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users," the focus is mainly on community outreach and serving the community in which we are placed. Specifically in Section 2.3 "Outreach Services," it states that we should "CONTINIUALLY assess and analyze the community in order to aid in the planning and delivery of library services to meet community needs. As librarians, it is our goal to promote lifelong learning and I think this includes language learning. Most of our libraries have access to language learning materials and I think outreach to the ESL and native Spanish speaking community is a way not only to serve this population, but for English speaking patrons to branch out and learn about other languages and cultures. It is as simple as providing materials in languages other than English, in this case, Spanish.


I also wanted to add that it's important not only to have resources and materials in Spanish, but also to have Spanish outreach in communities with a large Spanish-speaking population. This could include things such as newspaper ads in Spanish, a Spanish section of the library's website, staff training on speaking Spanish, as well as even seeking multilingual library staff to serve as outreach staff members for these populations in the community.

Community Analysis

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:31 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:31 AM ]

I think that it is so important to think about ALL of the different people that use the library. This can be difficult at times, because there really are a lot of different groups out there, so it only makes sense that some are bound to be overlooked. Whether or not a certain population is "officially" part of the institution that houses the library is really irrelevant--that is to say, the people that matter to the library are all of the different populations that use the library. At the academic library where I work, community members are also allowed to come in and use the library's services. Even though they are not perceived to be a major stakeholder for the library, they are a part of the people that use the library and therefore contribute to its existence.

Mental Illness

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:28 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:28 AM ]

For many, mental illness can mean different things, and many people are high functioning individuals that are living every day with a mental illness but most people around them never know it. I think this is why mental illness is a difficult subject to tackle.

I will discuss a lot about mental illness on this blog rather than physical disabilities. But I think that is important because I have often found with physical disabilities, most places and most people are usually very accommodating without thinking twice. With people with physical or communication disabilities, there are clear visual cues that a person has a disability i.e. a wheelchair. People with mental illness often go undetected or are so extreme that they further ingrain unjust stereotypes and this causes problems for everyone within the library.

Addressing mental illness in libraries is important. I do not think that this is because other types of disabilities are not as important, but I think that as a society, everyone accepts these as legitimate disabilities whereas this is not the case with mental illness. I was actually talking with an educated person (also a Baptist minister) a few years ago about mental illness and he said directly to me that he doesn't believe that mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, etc. are real illnesses and that those people just needed to change how their mind works.

To ignore these illnesses as if they weren't real is a disservice to the entire community. As stated in the Torrey article, there are a multitude of problems in the public library that come from mental illness in the community. Some solutions, as Torrey stated, are more security for the library, especially at night or during hours when incidents are more likely to occur, and the proper training of library staff on how to handle these patrons when they are disruptive or inappropriate.

As librarians, we will be required to treat everyone with respect (which we all should do as human beings, but I have found that doesn't always happen) that comes into the library and make the right judgments in situations where problems arise from mentally ill patrons.

Post Reference: Torrey, E., Eposito, R., & Geller, J. (2009). Problems Associated with Mentally Ill Individuals in Public Libraries. Public Libraries, 48(3), 45-51

Religion

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:22 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:51 AM ]

It is our jobs as librarians to lead people to information and provide them information. We may not "agree" with the information which the patrons are seeking, but nonetheless, we cannot restrict access to these materials. Obviously, there are some things that need to be blocked in libraries, such as pornography, and I feel that this is pretty universal. Religion, as stated, is one of those very sensitive subjects and it has caused people to do crazy things. But, we cannot just restrict access to religions we do not agree with as was the case in this story. There are instances, such as the poisonous snake handling incident with the children where the government had to intervene because their religion was actually putting children in harm's way. However, that was a very extreme case and I do not feel that this person wanting to research Wicca was putting anyone in harms way or doing anything to affect anyone in any way. The librarian in question was absolutely in the wrong as I feel it was not her place to decide that those sites should be blocked, especially from someone that did legitimately want to research. She had stated she would allow someone to view the content if she deemed it necessary, but it sounds to me like it was something she disagreed with and she was not going to allow anyone to see the blocked sites on her watch.


Post Reference: http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/hunter-v-salem-public-library-board-trustees

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