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Special Interest Group Archive: EDI SIG 11/17/2021

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

November 17, 2021

The meeting was held on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 via Zoom. Our facilitator was Maggie Leung. 


Icebreaker - favorite autumnal food or drink! 


Cataloging books according to genre - e.g., urban literature, African American literature - is doing genres a good idea or a bad idea in the library?

  • Used to have African American literature in the example library - Baldwin, Morrison

  • Was generally anything written by a Black author

  • They now intersperse the Black literature, but with a spine label

  • New genre, called “Urban”

  • Offense taken by this person because “it’s basically porn” 

  • It’s useful to direct patrons to those books because they are readalikes - people know they want to read “Urban”, so it helps to be able to point them to that section

  • Clearly there is an audience for this type of book

  • Wikipedia entry for “urban fiction” 

  • It’s a very nuanced topic - can’t just not use the category because it makes us feel uncomfortable; if people want the books, help them find them

  • For more on cataloging and classification, there's a conversation about genre with librarians on Twitter under the #critcat hashtag.

  • Books are put in this section and they’re not even in an urban setting, though - they are simply similarly sexual (?)

  • The collection at this example library are not circulating

  • If it’s not circing, why are those books being ordered? OR is there a way to make them more visible? 

  • If you want to have a more in-depth discussion about collection development (and how it relates to EDI) we will be discussing more about book selection at the SIG on December 8. 

  • Would interfiling Urban in Romance turn some readers away? 


Characteristics of white supremacy culture in the workplace

  • White Supremacy Culture - Still Here (PDF)

  • What Is White Supremacy Culture? 

  • What are some ways WSC has manifested at your workplace? 

  • “one right way” - there’s an objective purpose that is both obtainable & desirable for everyone

  • On fear: the Audre Lorde quote "Next time, ask: What's the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare."

  • Either/or binary - reducing the complexity of life and the nuance of relationships


**musical interlude for reflection on the above links**


Responses to the above links: 

  • I keep thinking about how there is that big fear of change, of the unknown, of a huge upheaval to the “white supremacy way of life” - but we all have to remind ourselves, we just went through a huge society-changing upheaval in the pandemic! We found so many ways to adapt and to rebuild our lives in new ways. We can do that again! This time by moving away from the culture of white supremacy.

  • If there can be said to be any silver linings to a pandemic (or perhaps, opportunities to seize in the wake of pandemic) it's the chance to question/upend the status quo on every level

  • Thanks to Maggie for spearheading this conversation! 

  • Project Ready - learning modules related to what we’re talking about in this SIG

    • The local BOCES councils are hoping to run Project Ready again in early 2022.

  • the written tradition - African American and Indigenous Peoples’ histories are all oral - so their histories are not recognized as valid by those not in their culture - so this person’s library is examining their collections to consider “who are the people who had the voices at the time? who had the credibility?”

  • the importance of preserving and sharing oral histories 

  • need to recruit a diverse group of people to curate these stories + histories

  • in the Reconstruction Era, many African Americans began to write things down - but even those are not widely recognized

  • We need to ensure all sides are heard - whether we’re uncomfortable with it or not! 

  • Who are the people who are collecting? How many minorities are actually in the LIS field? 

  • Many more BIPOC are represented as library support staff, but certainly less so in librarian positions

  • Start young with nurturing BIPOC people with interest in LIS!


  • Colleagues need to be less hostile & more hospitable - to ensure people stay in the field

  • Noteworthy point:  Eli Dueker, referenced as a colleague who worked with Tema Okun here,, is a professor and scholar on environmental racism at Bard College. [Okun wrote the above white supremacy resource]

  • Is there anything about the field/profession that is really turning BIPOC away? 

  • Most library schools are “eh” at advising 

  • First gen students

  • Money is also influential - if you come from money and social support, it’s certainly easier to succeed in any field, but in particular LIS isn’t very lucrative

  • People often say they are in librarianship because they love the field, but you also have to be able to support yourself with this work - especially after having paid for a graduate degree!

  • A meeting participant just checked w/ Eli Dueker about this white supremacy resource (Eli's sort of part of my eco community) and he said: "Tema Okun and Bree Carlson are two of my best friends in all of the world (and I miss Kenneth Jones terribly). In fact, I ended up going back to school soon after Kenneth died so I could work on environmental racism issues, something that Kenneth devoted his life to."

  • We are looking to "inform ourselves" on racism issues, so as not to ask every token POC to come talk with us on these issues.

  • The “right to comfort” - relevant especially in light of the CRT debates - “kids can’t be uncomfortable” - “learning comes from discomfort” - prioritizes some people’s comfort over other people’s comfort!

  • Communication is about trying to arrive at some sort of compromise, not at trying to convince the other person to change 

  • Thinking of the teaching of some buddhist leaders and others that we need to move *toward* discomfort.

  • Use discomfort as a lodestone to new understanding.  If we're uncomfortable, explore where that leads us.

  • Trying to find a balance between centering ourselves (a natural tendency) and making sure we’re okay with experiencing discomfort - whether or not that involves crying!

  • Be an ACTIVE LISTENER - that immediately takes yourself out of it - emotion, passion is leading to something deeper - as someone is talking, actively focus on what they are talking about; you’ll find your feelings aren’t as heightened because your focus is on THEM


Next SIG: Thurs, Jan 20 - 1-2:30p

(snow date, Thurs, Jan 27 - 1-2:30p)

Land acknowledgement

Land Acknowledgement - resources:

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065