Category Archives: Articles and Information

Kick off the Olympics with the U.S. National Archives



Susan Rapp, the daughter of an Army colonel, is among the participants at the start of a race at the 1984 Summer Olympics. She won a silver medal for her performance in the 200 meter breaststroke. See the full record from the U.S. National Archives.

The Summer Olympics officially begin on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Time to lace up those running shoes, tune up the bicycle, and go for that perfect 10!

Join the U.S. National Archives this week as they share a variety of records held at the National Archives related to historic Olympic Games and participants.

Surveys: Don’t Just Set it and Forget it!



Hand holding wooden block with tick mark in a row with three other similar blocksFrom Library Research Service

Surveys are the rotisserie oven of the data collection methods. You simply “set it, and forget it!” That’s why it’s important to be strategic about how you’re reaching your target population. Otherwise, you may be leaving out key subsets of your audience—which are often voices that are already historically underrepresented.

Is your survey equitable? 

Let’s say you want to send out a survey to library users, so you print off a stack of copies and leave them on the lending desk for patrons to take. While everyone in your target audience may have equal access to the survey (or in other words, are being treated the same), they don’t all have equitable access. Sometimes people may need differing treatment in order to make their opportunities the same as others. In this case, how would someone who has a visual impairment be able to take a printed survey? What about someone who doesn’t speak English? These patrons would likely ignore your survey, and without demographic questions on language and disability, the omission of these identities might never be known. Upon analyzing your data, conclusions might be made to suggest, “X% of patrons felt this way about x,y, and z.” In reality, your results wouldn’t represent all patrons—only sighted, English-speaking patrons.

Who has access to your survey? 

Start by thinking about who you want to answer your survey—your target population. Where do they live? What do they do? What identities do they hold? Consider the diversity of people that might live within a more general population: racial and ethnic identities, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, religion, etc. Next, think through the needs and potential barriers for people in your target population, such as language, access to transportation, access to mail, color blindness, literacy, sightedness, other physical challenges, immigration status, etc. Create a distribution plan that ensures that everyone in your target population—whether they face barriers or not—can access your survey easily. Here are some common distribution methods you could use:

  • Direct mail – Here’s more information about how to do a mail survey and it’s advantages and disadvantages.
  • Online – For more information on how to make your online survey accessible, check out this article from Survey Monkey.
  • Telephone – In a telephone survey, someone calls the survey taker and reads them the questions over the phone while recording their answers.
  • In-person – Surveys can also be administered in-person with a printed stack of surveys or a tablet. However, with this approach you might run into the dangers of convenience sampling.

Depending on your target audience, surveys are rarely one-size-fits-all. The best plan is often a mixed-methods approach, where you employ multiple distribution strategies to ensure equitable access for all members of your target population.

Who is and isn’t taking your survey?

Great! You’ve constructed a distribution plan that you feel can equitably reach your target population, but did it work? The only way to know for sure is by collecting certain demographic information as part of your survey.

As library professionals, collecting identifying information can feel like a direct contradiction to our value of privacy. Yet, as a profession we are also committed to equity and inclusivity. When administering a survey, sometimes it’s necessary to collect demographic data to better understand who is and isn’t being represented in the results. Questions about someone’s race, ethnicity, income level, location, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. not only allow us to determine if those characteristics impact someone’s responses, but also help combat the erasure of minority or disadvantaged voices from data. However, it’s important to note that:

  1. You should always explicitly state on your survey that demographic questions are optional,
  2. You should ensure responses remain anonymous either by not collecting personal identifying information or making sure access to that information is secure, and
  3. Only collect demographic information that’s relevant and necessary to answer your particular research question.

Compare the data from your demographic questions with who you intended to include in your target audience. Are there any gaps? If so, re-evaluate your distribution plan to better reach this sub-group(s), including speaking to representatives of the community or people that identify with the group for additional insight. Make additional efforts to distribute your survey, if necessary.

Conclusion

Inequities are perpetuated by research and evaluation when we fail to ensure our data collection methods are inclusive and representative of everyone in our target group. The absence of an equitable distribution plan and exclusion of relevant demographic questions on your survey runs the risk of generating data that maintains current power structures. The data will produce conclusions that amplify the experiences and perspectives of the dominating voice while simultaneously reproducing the idea that their narrative is representative of the entire population. Individuals who have historically been excluded will continue to be erased from our data and the overarching narrative.

News in Brief



Nominations Now Open for the I Love My Librarian Award
The American Library Association (ALA) invites all library users to nominate their favorite librarians for the prestigious I Love My Librarian Award. The national award recognizes librarians working in public, school, college, community college, or university libraries for their outstanding public service contributions. Nominations are accepted online now through Sept. 27, 2021.

ABOS 2021 Virtual Conference Registration is Open
Registration for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) 2021 Virtual Conference is now open. “Jazz Up Your Outreach” is the theme of the conference, which will take place October 11-15. A tentative program schedule is available on the website, with a final schedule anticipated by mid-July, and a tentative schedule is available on the website. Registration will close September 30.

AASL announces Best Digital Tools for Teaching & Learning
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has released its annual list of Best Digital Tools for Teaching & Learning. The recognition honors electronic resources that provide enhanced learning and curriculum development for school librarians and their educator collaborators. The list can be found at www.ala.org/aasl/best. These user-friendly tools are recognized for fostering the qualities of innovation/creativity, active participation, collaboration, exploration, and information/reference.

Creating a Tween Collection: A Practical Guide for Librarians
Check out this one-hour video from the Michigan Department of Education and hosted by Library of Michigan Youth Services Consultant Cathy Lancaster. It focuses on creating collections for your tween patrons.

The Missing Middle: Reimagining a Future for Teens, Tweens, and Public Media
In this report, 50 tweens and teens across the U.S. were interviewed about how they spend their time, what they find interesting, how they find new shows, apps, or videos, what issues are important to them, as well as what misconceptions adults have about youth. The report features the voices of a generation of youth who crave authenticity and who want to be more than passive consumers in this rapidly changing media landscape.

ALA Receives Grant to Support Let’s Talk About It: Women’s Suffrage
The American Library Association (ALA) has been granted $249,999 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to implement the Let’s Talk About It (LTAI): Women’s Suffrage humanities discussion project. This project will provide opportunities for communities to deepen their knowledge of American history and culture by examining events and individuals who impacted the women’s suffrage movement. Up to 25 libraries will be awarded a set of books and a programming stipend to implement LTAI: Women’s Suffrage programs in their communities. Additional information and application guidelines will be released in September 2021.

Starting your EDI Process



3D letters read: Fairness, Diversity, Inclusion (highlighted), and EquityFrom the Colorado Virtual Library
by Leah Breevoort, Research Assistant at Library Research Service

Starting the journey toward building a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization can evoke a range of emotions. From being guilty you didn’t start this ages ago to feeling like you’re in over your head, it can be a scary and simultaneously exciting process. The truth is, the road toward a just and equitable future will be bumpy, with mistakes made along the way. The fear of messing up should not prevent us from taking the first step forward.

Having an understanding of EDI principles and an openness to learning will make library staff better equipped to serve patrons, no matter your library’s size or location. At the Colorado State Library (CSL), equity, diversity, and inclusion are tenets of our profession. Among the values of librarianship are equal access, diversity, and social responsibility, making us well positioned to respond to the current social climate. This, coupled with the spate of police killings of unarmed black people and the nationwide protests that followed, turned our responsibility to act into an imperative. CSL began by creating EDIT, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Team, to create a formal structure around addressing EDI issues.

Although we understood many of our colleagues were already confronting these issues and thinking about them within their own work, our goal was to create a cohesive response, capture and better support the work we were already doing, and initiate work we should be doing.  We are by no means the experts—and it’s a matter of fact that we lack diversity within our own ranks—but as much as possible we did learn from the experts, solicited second opinions, and continued to educate ourselves from those out there doing the hard work, including the libraries who are much farther along in their EDI journey. With that said, here are a few takeaways that may be helpful if you and your library are deciding to embark on this journey.

Where are we now? Where do we need to go?

Working toward an equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization is a never-ending process, so it’s important to understand that the work is never “done.” Before thinking about what we wanted to accomplish, we identified where we currently stood with the help of The Equity Project and Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler. Use this slide to think through where your organization currently stands on the equity continuum.

Arrow shapes going from left to right indicate stages in the equity continuum. Each of the six stages describe organizational initiatives and motivations. Stage 0 is Denial. Stage 1 is Compliance with legislation and policy--the organization is meeting its legal obligations. Stage 2 is Beyond Compliance--the organization recognizes its social responsibility and is supportive, but have to real plans in place. Stage 3 is Making the Business Case, where the organization understands the power of diversity and has diversity initiatives. Stage 4 is Integrated--the organization moves beyond diversity to focus on leveraging different strengths in inclusion initiatives. Finally, Stage 5 is Inclusive and Equitable. The organization see equity as an imperative, and its initiatives focus on people and systems.

In order to better understand where our organization currently stood in regards to EDI issues, we also created and disseminated a survey for all staff. This allowed us to collect baseline data about how staff approach EDI issues within the work they do and to identify areas for improvement. Our goal is to retake the survey every three years to measure if our theory of change is correct/successful. It is important to note that although we conducted the survey internally, responses were anonymous. We also did not collect any demographic data because we are such a small staff and that could inhibit the anonymity of responses. Here is a pdf of the survey, which was based on online resources and then adapted for our specific needs.

Who needs to be involved?

No matter what position you hold within your organization, you can’t do the work on your own. Our process started small—just an idea among co-workers—and grew as we intentionally brought our colleagues in on the process. We realized that the buy-in of leadership was an essential component to advancing equity work. We were fortunate to discover that there was a lot of support from key leadership, who we met with regularly  to help define our goals, strategies, and activities. Then we refined our objectives with a small group of our coworkers that were meeting regularly to discuss EDI-related articles and podcasts. After incorporating their feedback, we introduced our collaborative plan at an all-staff meeting. A few key things we learned from this process:

  • Identify your stakeholders early on by asking yourself: “Which staff members could be advocates? And who could be a barrier?” If someone might be a barrier, consider how you would go about making them an advocate.
  • Create opportunities for planning to be a communal process. The chances are, not everyone will want to be involved, but be sure to give them the option.
  • Intentionally seek out people outside your organization that might provide a diverse perspective or people who you directly impact through your work.

What do we want to accomplish?

One of the scariest parts of this work is actually doing the work. Especially as library workers, we feel the need to continue learning, and researching, and asking questions. We need to gather our resources and remain open to changing cultural needs in order to  tackle such a monumental problem as iniquity. At CSL, we started by creating a strategic plan document that would clearly outline EDIT’s mission, goals, strategies, and tactics. This helped us formalize a theory of change (if we do x,y, and z we will accomplish these goals) and allowed us to clearly define what we hoped to achieve and how we planned on doing so. We used ALA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Implementation Plan as a model. Some key takeaways:

  • Set achievable, actionable goals. While goals should be aspirational, they should also be reasonably achievable. Our approach was to set five goals, and related strategies for achieving the goals, for example by including suggested activities. Your goals should be a springboard for launching you on your EDI journey, and so it doesn’t need to be set in stone and in fact should be flexible.
  • Define everything! We wanted to be very explicit about terms, including what we meant by EDI. We weren’t just talking about race equity, but also accessibility (a key concern for library staff), as well as the intersection of various identities, such as religion, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity and so on.
  • Get feedback. Don’t be afraid to reach outside your organization. If you lack diverse voices within your planning process like we did, seek outside perspectives from colleagues, your community, advocates, etc.

If not now, then when?

Even writing this post causes trepidation. There is always a lingering fear about sounding tone deaf and getting something wrong. Part of this process is remaining open-minded and open to criticism. We do not claim to know everything about doing EDI work—we certainly aren’t experts—but we cannot wait until we do feel like we know everything. That may never happen and the work is simply too critical to not start today. So if your organization is waiting to take the leap into EDI work, here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Reflect on where your organization currently stands
  • Gather your stakeholders (this is a good opportunity to practice inclusion!)
  • Gather data
  • Develop a plan
  • Ask for feedback from outside authorities
  • Don’t wait!

Summer Learning Resources from Wyoming PBS



Keep those kids and teens learning over the summer and beyond! Wyoming PBS has a number of programs and resources for fun and exciting K-12 learning.

NatureWY

NatureWY brings the great outdoors and science learning to 6- to 8-year-old children throughout Wyoming. The program is a partnership with Science Kids. Beginning in July, weekly five-minute videos will capture Science Kids in action during Science Kids summertime classes. Supplemental, online lesson plans will be available. Visit the PBS Teach Wyoming Facebook page for up-to-date information about this digital series.

WyomingPBS LearningMedia

PBS and PBS KIDS can help teachers and families create fun, engaging, and educational experiences that will help kids learn about the world and themselves. Here are a few favorites.

Early elementary learning (preK-grade 5)

PBS LearningMedia Summer Camp Collection
PBS has pulled together resources from some of kids’ favorite PBS KIDS series and other sources to help you quickly execute fun, engaging, hands-on activities that spark kids’ curiosity and learning.

CAMP TV
Avideo-based day camp for kids in grades K-6 which includes resources from partners like the New York Public Library, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Memphis Zoo, and more. (Developed by WNET/Thirteen.)

More PBS KIDS Resources
With funding from the Department of Education’s Ready to Learn initiative, PBS, CPB, and member stations across the country created and tested an array of learning experiences for young children and their families.

Middle and High School Grades (6-12)

PBS LearningMedia Summer Learning Collection
This collection of videos and activities encourages students in grades 6-12 to spend the summer asking questions, creating, and building critical skills and knowledge.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs 
This is a national youth journalism program and public media initiative that trains teenagers across the country to produce stories that highlight the achievements, challenges, and reality of today’s youth.

Want more?

For more information on Wyoming PBS Education opportunities contact Carol Garber, Wyoming PBS Education Coordinator, at carol@wyomingpbs.org.

COVID-19 Vaccine Facts for Parents



The Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division has reached out to us to share information your patrons may be interested in.

Now that adolescents 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer authorized vaccine, the department has responded to some of the questions parents might have.

Parents may wish to explore their COVID-19 Vaccine Questions and Answers online. The page can be translated into a variety of languages and is compatible with screen readers. A downloadable information sheet is also available.

Many Wyoming families frequent your buildings. These resources may be useful to display and share with your patrons.

News in Brief



Free Speech on the Clock: A Case Study From Chattanooga
Have you ever considered the limits of your speech as a library worker? Intellectual freedom is a core value of the library and information science profession, however that does not mean that library workers have special privileges from other workers. As the Intellectual Freedom Manual explains, the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment traditionally has not been thought to apply to employee speech in the workplace. Learn more on the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom blog.

On-Demand Online Training: Libraries as Community Hubs for Citizen Science
With support from the National Library of Medicine, SciStarter, a popular citizen science platform,  assembled a team with expertise in instructional design, education, libraries, inclusive practices, digital design, micro accreditation, and, of course, citizen science to produce a free series of self-guided tutorials, trainings, and accompanying modules to help people from all walks of life discover and engage in authentic science.

PLA, AT&T Team up to Bring Digital Literacy Training to Families
The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association, and AT&T have announced a collaboration to improve digital literacy and promote broadband adoption among families and communities. A specially curated collection of digital literacy courses so parents and families can build the skills and confidence they need to help children navigate distance learning and participate effectively and safely in today’s digital world. The PLA/AT&T collaboration will launch in the summer of 2021.

Trustee Training Resources from the Vermont Department of Libraries
When was the last time your trustee board engaged in intentional, organized trustee training? Both new and veteran library trustees can benefit from regular training on trustee duties, ethics, fundraising, strategic planning, succession planning, board management, HR issues, and more. The Vermont Department of Libraries has put together this resource list to help. Although some items are Vermont-specific, most are relevant to libraries in all states.

Emergency Broadband Benefit toolkit materials are now available for download. The outreach toolkit is a collection of social media, printables, and other content to assist communities, outreach partners, and grassroots organizers in raising awareness about the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Questions about the toolkit materials or the Emergency Broadband Benefit may be sent to broadbandbenefit@fcc.gov.

2021 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees Announced
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, has announced the 25 nominees for the 2021 Teens’ Top Ten. This is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Teens are encouraged to read the nominees throughout the summer to prepare for the national Teens’ Top Ten vote, which will take place August 15 to October 12.

PLA Now Accepting Proposals for PLA 2022 Conference
The Public Library Association (PLA) has opened the call for proposals for educational sessions to be presented at its next biennial conference, to be held March 23-25, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. The proposal submission portal will close at 9:59 p.m. Mountain Time on June 21, 2021.

Why Use Inclusive Language



Hand writing 'inclusive language', isolated on orange background.Reposted from Library Research Service
By Michael Peever, Consultant Support Specialist at Colorado State Library

Using appropriate terminology is a vital part of being an effective communicator. Using inclusive language is a way of showing consideration for everyone we meet. It is a way of recognizing, accepting, and sometimes celebrating personal characteristics such as gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or other attributes that make up a person’s identity. Using inclusive language centers the individual person and is one way of showing solidarity, allyship, and just plain old kindness. In a profession that aims to foster a welcoming, respectful, and accessible environment, inclusive language should be part of the everyday vernacular of library staff.

So, what is inclusive language?

As the Linguistic Society of America puts it:

Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences, and promotes equal opportunities.

Inclusive language is the intentional practice of using words and phrases that correctly represent minority—and frequently marginalized—communities, such as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning), BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), people with disabilities, people with mental health conditions, immigrants, etc. The key is to avoid hurtful, stereotypical language that makes individuals feel excluded, misunderstood, and/or disrespected. The use of inclusive language acknowledges that marginalized communities have ownership over the terminology that they use to refer to themselves, not the majority. It should also be noted that terminology isn’t necessarily ubiquitous across an entire group.

Keeping up-to-date

You might have said to yourself, there are so many new words or phrases nowadays, it’s hard to keep up! You might also have felt like you were worried about “saying the wrong thing.” Rest assured that language is always evolving as social, cultural, and technological changes occur, and you’re not expected to know everything all of the time. A willingness to learn and an awareness that you don’t have all the answers are extremely helpful traits that can aid in building trust with the people you meet.

One resource to keep in mind is the Pacific University’s extensive glossary of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion terms. Northwestern’s Inclusive Language Guide also offers a lot of examples of preferred terms.

Centering the individual first

Inclusive language centers the individual by referring foremost to someone as a person. Doing so reinforces the idea that someone is not defined by certain characteristics, such as race, religion, or disability. For example, it is still fairly common to refer to a person with a disability as simply “disabled.” It is now becoming more standard to use the phrase “Person with a disability.” The aim is to acknowledge the individual person first; this is also known as person-first or person-centered language. For example, “She is a person with a disability” rightfully acknowledges that this person has a disability, but they are not one-and-the-same, or synonymous with that disability. For more on inclusive language with respect to disability, check out this guide by the Stanford Disability Initiative.

Another way of thinking about centering the individual is with respect to race and ethnicity. Instead of referring to “a black” or “a Jew,” simply remembering to add the word “person” (i.e., a black person, a Jewish person) affirms that you are describing a person above all, while making it clear that you are not defining someone based on a single trait.

Pronouns: If you’re not sure, ask

Mostly we use the pronouns that are consistent with the person’s gender expression regardless of what we think their biological sex might be. If you are unsure of how to refer to an individual or what the correct words to use may be, asking respectful questions creates an opportunity for learning and the person you are asking may—or may not, as is their right—wish to affirm their identity to you. If you are unsure of a person’s pronouns, and it is appropriate to ask, keep it simple with something like, “Would you mind sharing what pronouns I should use when speaking to you?” In the case of gender identity, it is always better to ask than to assume. For more information on LGBTQ+ inclusive language, check out the Ally’s Guide to Terminology by GLAAD.

Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. Also, a person who identifies as a certain gender should be referred to using pronouns consistent with that gender. When it isn’t possible to ask what pronoun a person would prefer, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance and gender expression.

From GLAAD’s Ally’s Guide to Terminology

Do your research

Inclusive language is a broad and evolving topic. As with most things, doing a little bit of solo research can go a long way. Try to utilize reliable, research-based sources whenever possible, and also seek out the voices of experts from diverse backgrounds.

Conclusion

Intentionally using and remaining receptive to the appropriate terminology are key ways of giving others the dignity they deserve. Library staff engage with an intersection of many different types of people on a day-to-day basis. It is critical that we reinforce what libraries represent as an inclusive place for all by using the language that mirrors our values.

COVID Funeral Assistance Available to Your Patrons



FEMA logoThere have been more than 700 COVID-related deaths in Wyoming. Families in your communities may be dealing not only with the tragedy of losing a loved one, but also the burden of funeral expenses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a program that can help your patrons, and you can help spread the word.

FEMA is providing financial assistance for funeral expenses related to COVID-19 that were incurred after January 20, 2020. To be eligible, the death must have occurred in the United States (including U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia) and the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to or caused by COVID-19.

You can download, print, and share the flyer to let your patrons know that this assistance is available. More information is also available at FEMA.gov/funeral-assistance/faq.

 

The Returns to Public Library Investment



A new working paper, The Returns to Public Library Investment, examines how capital investment in public libraries affects library operations, patron usage, and local communities, with a focus on student achievement. The paper was published to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago website.

From the abstract:

…library capital investment increases children’s attendance at library events by 18%, children’s checkouts of items by 21%, and total library visits by 21%. Increases in library use translate into improved children’s test scores in nearby school districts: a $1,000 or greater per-student capital investment in local public libraries increases reading test scores by 0.02 standard deviations…

Read the entire paper for full details.