social justice librarianship

Barbara Fister’s latest Library Babel Fish essay is on point for me in so many ways.

It’s not easy to write this well, to combine edge-of-your-seat narrative momentum with scholarly rigor. Not only is it not easy, but we’re schooled to write in an inaccessible style, as if our ideas are somehow better if written in a hard-to-decipher script that only the elite can decode because if people who haven’t been schooled that way can understand it, it’s somehow base and common, not valuable enough.

Yes. So much this. I think it’s possibly one of the reasons why librar* blogs burned so brightly and fiercely before other social media sites took on that space. It gave us a platform to share our thoughts and work in ways that were not stifling like the journals that normally published librar* scholarship. Bloggers who could write eloquently and pointedly about the issues of the day and what they thought of them gained quite a bit of attention (and still do, for those that have continued to write in this type of forum). I certainly read them more consistently and thoroughly than any professional publication filled with strict form and complex sentence structures.

…it’s immoral to study poor people and publish the results of that study in journal run by a for-profit company that charges more for your article than what the household you studied has to buy food this week. I cannot think of any valid excuse for publishing social research this way.

Many of the economic arguments for open access have grown stale, but this one is fresh and new to me, and it hits hard. Much like when those of us in library acquisitions roles submit articles to closed publications, we are choosing the expectations of our peers for tenure requirements over our professional ethics. If we want the contents of scholarly journals to be accessible to all who need them, then we need to make sure our own house is in order before we go out and ask faculty to do the same.

You can reserve the right to share your work, and we’re finding sustainable ways to fund public knowledge. Will it take a little more of your time? Yeah, it’s a cultural shift, which is obviously complex, and you’re so busy.

But if you actually think your research matters, if you think research could make people’s lives better, if you use the phrase “social justice” when you describe your work, you should take that time. It’s unethical not to.

numbers

Birthday Cake
“Birthday Cake” by Paul Downey

The number on my age is changing this week, and because the first number is changing as well as the second number, this is A Really Big Deal. Part of me is uncomfortable with the change, part of me feels nothing about the change, but all of me is feeling weird about how other people are making this A Really Big Deal. The last time the numbers changed like this, I thought it was going to be A Really Big Deal, and…it wasn’t. I was just as clueless and awkward as I was before the change. I suspect it’s going to be the same thing. I’m going to wake up the next day and it’s going to be just another work day in the life, followed by weeks and months and years of the same until the both numbers change again and it’s A Really Big Deal.

on my playlist

Chris Burris recently conducted an email interview with me for a profile in the NASIG Newsletter. One of his questions was, “What’s currently on your playlist?” I listed a bunch of albums, and I thought it might be useful to create a short Spotify playlist of a favorite track from each.

have fun out there

softball
“softball” by tinatruelove

Exercise should be fun. That’s not to say it should be easy — if it’s easy, you’re not really doing anything. No, what I’m saying is that it should be fun. It should be something you look forward to doing, and not just look forward to having done.

I’ve participated in some fitness programs run by the gym at my workplace. These have been short-term programs meant to get the participants started on a path towards better fitness/lifestyles. I have found them very useful as a structured and goal-oriented accountability crutch, where the slightly competitive and also supportive nature of the program makes it harder for me to skip the workouts when I’m tired or busy.

However, after my fifth or sixth time through (I honestly don’t remember how many years I’ve done it now), I found myself in the odd situation of knowing almost as much as the trainer about what I should be doing, and in some instances, assisting my fellow participants on technique when the trainer was busy with someone else. I realized then that I didn’t need this crutch anymore.

Well, at least not when it comes to strength training. I’m all about the strength training. These days, I’m at the gym 4-5 times a week, primarily during the work week, lifting weights for 30-50 min and walking the track to finish off my daily step goal. I love it. Even when I’m the only woman over 22 in the weight room (often the only woman, period), and these college bros don’t quite know what to do with the fat, middle-aged woman who seems to know how the fly machine works.

I feel stronger when I’m at the gym. On days when it’s so tempting to get in the car and drive home after work, just a few reps will get the adrenaline going and all of a sudden that tired goes away for a little while. I feel like I could keep doing reps forever, until I hit the wall and it’s time to stretch.

Strength training is fun. There’s variety. I can focus on a specific muscle group on one day, or do a little with all of them. There are many different exercises to target specific muscle groups, and pieces of equipment to do them, so when I get bored with one, I can change it up for a while.

What’s not fun for me is cardio. Cardio is that necessary thing (or so they say) for burning fat. When I’m lifting weights, I’m putting effort behind it, so the heart rate goes up a bit, but not like it would for an aerobic exercise. I know I should incorporate cardio into my routine, but my options at the gym are so boring. Stationary bike, treadmill, and many variations on elliptical machines. The stair climber is right out. I could swim, but the hours and availability of the pool aren’t ideal for me, and it’s an extra hassle I haven’t felt motivated to tackle yet. Anyway, cardio: yawn.

That being said, I do like to do some athletic activities that involve an element of cardio in them. I play softball once a week about six months out of the year, weather permitting. I hike and bike when it’s not super hot or super cold out. Those are fun activities that I look forward to doing.

I figured out today that the one aspect of strength training I don’t enjoy — targeted core exercises — is one that I can kind of do with fun activities instead. One of the areas I focus on with core exercises are my lateral muscles, primarily because they help me have a stronger swing of the softball bat. You know what’s a fun exercise for lateral muscles? Swinging a softball bat.

This afternoon, I did several rounds (20 balls each) at the batting cage swinging right-handed and left-handed. This made me work both sides fairly equally. It also made me focus more on the ball and not just using muscle memory in my swing when I was batting left-handed (not my dominant side). I immediately noticed I was making better contact with the ball when I switched back to right-handed batting. Bonus! I did exercise that was fun and I got more out of it than I planned.

If exercise is chore for you, I my recommendation is to get out and try a bunch of things until you find the one that is fun. Then, just keep doing it.

new platforms! eek!

snapchatWhat does it say about library systems and tools that the initial response to trying a new thing is a general groan about having to teach a new platform? Our students are used to hopping on a new social media platform with minimal to no “instruction” every 6-8 months. Our systems and tools should be that intuitive. We shouldn’t need to “teach” them. They should be discovered and used without our active intervention.