We’ve had two notable projects at our library this week: working on a “Five Year Vision of the Library” document and preparing for the Halloween outreach events. I’ll post photos of the outreach things next week, but this week I’ll just mention that a shared, editable Google Doc has worked surprisingly well for having everyone get involved and coordinate ideas despite being spread out across different rooms & different days.

#critlib chat on Gender & Leadership in LIS

Annie Pho moderated a great #critlib Twitter chat on the topic of gender & leadership in libraries. The questions and suggested readings focused on questions of women’s history and on a more intersectionally-minded revisiting of the idea of the “glass elevator” that masculine folks tend to experience. Kyle Shockey made a thorough Storify of the conversation.

Two main things struck me over the course of this chat. The first was how little LIS education seems to emphasize the history of libraries beyond perhaps a cursory, uncritical intro along the lines of “Here’s Melville Dewey & a brief overview of librarianship as a profession.” As others pointed out, graduate education in fields like anthropology, literature, education, or history involves a substantial engagement with each fields’ own history and changing (intellectual, practical, etc.) approaches to its topic. If anyone would want to add articles or books on (critical) histories of libraries or librarianship to the Zotero group library, I’d profoundly appreciate it.

Here’s a few other things related to the history of librarianship:

  • The Women of Library History Tumblr looks like an informative counter to the Great Men narratives of librarianship.
  • ALA’s GLBT Round Table has a review series called “Off the Shelf” about the history of LGBT librarianship.
  • There’s a publicly visible course site, wiki, and blog for a [2008 “History of American Librarianship” course] at UW-Madison’s SLIS program, replete with a syllabus and student-led wiki posts.

The second thing that dawned on me during the Twitter chat was the degree to which gendered language rapidly became a tricky thing, with the language of the two readings reinforcing binary views of gender. When we attempt to discuss the effects of gender within librarianship, our analysis should take the time to address complications of gender presentation and include the contributions & experiences of transgender and genderqueer library workers. Folks like Chris Bourg and Jennifer Vinopal do a great job of routinely & inclusively addressing gender in librarianship and technology professions, which is something I hope we’ll all aspire to doing more conscientiously. Here’s a 2013 round up of gender-related readings by Jennifer Vinopal.

If you’ve got any other favorite readings, blog posts, or other resources related to gender, I hope you’ll consider adding those to the #critlib Zotero group as well.

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