Monday, May 20, 2013

ACRL 2013 Conference Notes: Panel Session on Queering the Library

ACRL Panel Session
Topic: "Queering the Library: What are YOU Doing to Serve Your LGBTQ Community?"
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013, 8:30am

  • (I was interested in this panel because I do have an interest in the topic, both as a librarian, and as an ally. I do have to note that this was an interest I could not always express, certainly not "too much" in my previous workplace, but let us leave that behind. In addition, since I have done some reading on the topic-- see here, here, and over here--, I figured this would be a good follow-up. It definitely was worth it getting up early on the last day of the conference for this panel.)
  • See for the presentation slides. 
  • LGBTQ issues and needs of students is a good research topic; case studies can be meaningful. There is a lack in the LIS Literature (I know. I have not seen a lot of this neither). 
  • Look at the LGBT Campus Climate Index (I did check. Curiously, neither my previous place nor my current place are listed. Though if I go by experience, my current place is lot more friendly, so to speak). 
  • From cited survey by Rankin (it refers to this. Note, it is not a free product. However, I did check WorldCat, and a few libraries have it, so ILL may be possible): 
    • 31% of LGBTQ students identify their campus as phobic. 
    • 21% experience harassment. 
    • Many students consider leaving campus as a result. This has an impact on retention (and I would guess it may have some impact on reputation as well, at least among LGBTQ people). Campus responses have been less than adequate.
  • This is a library issue. 
    • We are about equality. 
    • Show that the library supports all students with materials and access. The challenge is the line between visibility and privacy. 
    • Safe spaces to access materials are necessary. Also, work with any LGBTQ campus center, if it exists. Such places often have their own libraries as well. 
    • Overall, LGBTQ centers are still rare on campuses. 
  •  From the Q&A: I am one voice. What can I do? 
    • Put yourself out. Still, let others know you are a resource. Start by making your office a safe space. You being visible is an act of subversion. 
  • From the Q&A: Could this get me in trouble? (The basic answer is yes. Sort of implied in the discussion is that you have to measure your own risk tolerance and act accordingly, but act.)
    • Embrace discomfort and trouble. 
    • In hostile environments, maybe keep the faith as change is coming (this seemed a bit on the idealistic side to me. In some cases, change may be extremely slow to come, if at all. Still, try to remain positive). 
    • In hostile environments, do be aware of yourself and others. Gather your thoughts and support base. At the end of the day, do take the time to decompress. 
    • In an extreme case, getting fired may be worth it (though here I would say, again, measure your risk tolerance. If you are single with nothing to lose, you can probably do this with ease. If others depend on you, like family, maybe instead of getting fired you bide your time and move the hell out of Dodge. Don't burn bridges unnecessarily, but when you do move and secure a new position, make sure the old place knows exactly why you are leaving). 

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