ACRL/NY 2019 Symposium, December 6, 2019


Ethical UX: Addressing the Transgender and Non-Binary User Experience in an Academic Library

Amanda VerMeulen, St. Mary’s College of Maryland Library Archives & Media Center

This poster highlights projects undertaken by a small liberal arts college library in an effort to improve the user experience of transgender and non-binary patrons. A college that values diversity, inclusion, and justice, in recent years the library’s parent institution has undertaking initiatives on campus to support transgender and non-binary students, including mixed gender housing options and preferred names on IDs and class rosters. In keeping with these initiatives and the department’s own values and ethics, during academic year 2018-19 the library addressed three aspects of service that affect the transgender and non-binary patron user experience: all gender restrooms in the library, gendered salutations–such as Ms./Mrs./Mr.–in ILS auto generated patron notification emails, and using gender-neutral pronouns and descriptors when helping patrons. This poster will present a mini case study of how one UX librarian worked across departments to surface and solve these issues.

Holding Up the Mirror: Embedded Citation Analysis as Ethical Practice

Lynne Stahl, West Virginia University; Gesina Phillips, University of Pittsburgh; Allison Brown, SUNY Geneseo; Ariella Potramel, Connecticut College

Open licensing and free access have become common forms of equity-minded library praxis. A forthcoming Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies Open Textbook further pursues ethical innovation via a supplemental section analyzing the book’s agglomerated bibliographies.

The book’s aims include “an interdisciplinary approach…informed…by feminist, intersectional analyses and a commitment to social justice.” Citation practices play a key role in knowledge production–and often in reinscribing a homogenous in-group of authors and publications. Many (e.g., Ahmed, 2013; Ray, 2018) have addressed the politics of citation; this textbook builds in citational self-analysis as a means of transparency and generative autocritique, assessing diversity in a broad sense, with attention to author demographics, chronology, publications cited, and more. Beyond a mechanism for transparency, this embedded analysis offers strategies for remediation and future diversification in identified areas of underrepresentation.

Let Silent Voices Roar! Leveraging Special Collections as a Tool for Amplifying Marginalized Voices.

Deborah Cooper, Cornell University

Collections may sit mute on a shelf for years due to lack of usage, forgotten donations, and unknown provenance, with no simple way to understand and access them due to competing priorities for staff. Add foreign language materials into the mix and the problem is compounded. Traditionally, there is a tendency to shout about the collection’s “treasures”, the rarest, most beautiful material with name recognition. But what about these “shelf sitters”? Whose voices lie silent within? Which histories are lost and unknowable? How can we rebalance the one-dimensional narrative in the historical record because these stories are still untold?

This poster will demonstrate several ways that special collections work can uncover new historical perspectives, including examples from the author’s institution. Through access, instruction, digitization, and outreach, and with a willingness to reframe our work, we can more easily detect the small silences that may yet have a big story to tell.

LISTening to Our Students: Developing a Library Inclusivity Student Team to Assess Library Inclusion

Laura Kearney, Dickinson College

We developed a Library Inclusivity Student Team (“LIST”) at Dickinson College’s library during the Spring 2019 semester. LIST was a small group of library student employees who conducted focus groups with other students in order to help our library assess whether the library is a welcoming and inclusive environment. This poster will describe how the ACRL Diversity Standards led us to this project, our rationale for recruiting students to engage in this form of assessment, the ways in which this program provided a meaningful experience for the members of LIST, and the findings that resulted from these focus groups.

A Reconsideration of Library Treatment of Ethically Questionable Medical Texts: The Case of the Pernkopf Atlas of Anatomy

Laurel Scheinfeld, Jamie Saragossi, & Kathleen Kasten-Mutkus, Stony Brook University

The Pernkopf Atlas contains anatomical drawings created by Eduard Pernkopf, who was active in the Nazi Party in World War II. The book is known for its uniquely detailed artistic illustrations.  In the 1990s, evidence emerged that the corpses of Holocaust victims were likely used as anatomical subjects in the Atlas. The history and availability of the text was described in a Bulletin of the Medical Library Association article in 2001 by Michel Atlas. Atlas urged librarians to provide freedom of access, a core tenet of librarianship, but at the same time to inform users of the ethical quality of the information. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ethical information has not been made available widely over the past 18 years, and a lack of awareness remains among librarians. The present study seeks to determine current availability, use, awareness about, and provision of informational material on the Pernkopf Atlas in research libraries.  An exploration of the online catalogs of ARL member institutions was performed and a follow-up survey of institutions with holdings of the text is being conducted. Results will be analyzed and shared, in the hopes of informing best practices.