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Collaboration Over Competition: Attending the 2019 Library Diversity Institute

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Library Diversity Institute (LDI), a 3-day intensive orientation and training for new North American library diversity residents to get the most out of their residencies. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend last year but thanks to funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, I was able to head down to Greensboro, North Carolina to learn more about best practices in getting the most out of my residency experience while building community and solidarity with a professional network of colleagues nationally. 

Dr. Franklin Gilliam, the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, presented the LDI 2019 keynote address. He spoke to the necessity of protecting yourself, knowing, setting, and enforcing your boundaries, the power of authenticity, and the importance of supporting our colleagues/each other. Some of the points from his keynote that particularly stuck with me included:

  • Be strategic about picking your allies; not everyone you align yourself with has your best interest at heart.

  • Protect your energy, protect your mental health, protect yourself. Your institution isn't your "family" and won't protect you. We need to have lives & hobbies outside of our work or we won't last.

  • Being your authentic self is challenging and can have professional ramifications, since "professionalism" is invested in upholding white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, ableism, & capitalism (to name a few) but work isn't worth losing yourself to. Living in a performative state 24/7, pretending to be someone you're not, hiding out of fear and shame, all of this takes a toll on us. Not bringing our whole, authentic selves to work has consequences; we could lose ourselves, completely.

  • COLLABORATION & CELEBRATION, NOT COMPETITION: SUPPORT YOUR COLLEAGUES. A few ways to do this include giving them feedback (affirming and validating them publicly, especially), reading their work, helping them edit their publications or work on presentations, collaborating together, and coming together to build community, power, and solidarity.

  • Finally, I hope that we're ALL successful. Capitalism and the scarcity myth want us to believe we can't be - but our successes don't have to be at the expense of each other. Our successes can be BECAUSE of each other. 

To be honest, I missed a fair amount of the LDI because I had chemotherapy the day before and was still recovering. I decided to miss sessions, despite how desperately I wanted to be there, to prioritize my wellness and practice good self-care. The #FOMO was real but so were the side effects of chemotherapy so I stayed in my room and rested.

Another thing about LDI that impacted me was the emphasis on crowdsourcing our residencies, creating shared knowledges, and building community, solidarity, and power. It’s easy to feel powerless and helpless in the current political climate, however, one thing we can do is recognize what skills we have and offer to use them for community-based and local organizations that are doing good work. Are you great at writing grants? WRITE GRANTS. Is organizing accessible events your thing? DO THAT. We all have something to offer! 

At the end of LDI 2019, we discussed reflections and next steps: what our ideas were for next steps, comments on the institute (What would you have liked more of? Less of? What wasn’t addressed?), topics and goals for the Journal of Library and Residency Studies, and future institutes and sustainability. Here’s what I had to say:

  • I appreciated the emphasis on collaboration and celebration over competition; to work and collaborate with and support our colleagues. I loved the opportunity to build a cohort, community, and solidarity with other residents, since as the only resident at my institution it’s been isolating. It’s also been isolating to be one of the few disabled and chronically ill librarians at Cornell. Only 3% of librarians are disabled so I would love for diversity initiatives to include us too.

  • I wish that disability was openly talked about and accessibility was taken into greater consideration. I’m sad I had to miss so many sessions to recover from chemo; having more small breaks would have helped me be able to participate.

  • Gender-inclusive bathrooms would have been great so I wouldn’t have to leave and go back to my room every time I needed to pee. 

  • I want to focus on ways we can organize and build collective power to protect and support each other. I don’t know what that looks like but we need to support and protect each other since we’re in vulnerable and precarious positions.

  • Finally, I suggested creating a salary spreadsheet, similar to the ones for archives/museums/libraries, specifically for diversity fellows & residents to anonymously report our salaries & benefits to help in the negotiation process. 

Ultimately, being able to participate in the LDI was immensely helpful for me in terms of building a professional community, figuring out how to make the most of my residency, thinking about best practices, and life after my residency is over.


Recasting the Narrative: An ACRL 2019 Reflection

Note: I originally wrote this post for the ACRL Residency Interest Group.

For my first conference as a resident librarian, I wanted to attend an event focused on academic libraries with programming and events related to social justice and anti-oppression work. When I saw that the ACRL Diversity Alliance offered a preconference for residents this year, “Taking Charge of Your Narrative” and exciting workshops like “Moving Beyond Race 101: Speculative Futuring for Equity,” I knew this was the conference for me. Over 4,000 of us flocked to Cleveland this year for a fantastic learning experience.

Taking Charge of Your Narrative (Resident Librarian Preconference)

I was excited to attend the preconference for fellow resident librarians to learn about how to craft my leadership narrative, empower myself during my fellowship, and most of all, connect and build community with other diversity residents/fellows from around the country. One of the hardest parts of my residency have been the isolation, so I was quite excited to meet and learn from librarians who are in similar situations.

The preconference featured speakers like Martin Halbert, Alexia Hudson-Ward, Jon Cawthorne, Julie Brewer, and Toni Olivas, who shared their experiences, wisdom, and hopes with us. One of the themes of the day was constructing (and living) your leadership narrative. We talked about the importance of publishing (which includes blogging!) in establishing expertise and getting your name out there. We were encouraged to talk to each other about our research interests and to reach out to folks we were interested in collaborating with since co-authoring can be a great strategy towards getting published. Another tip was to stay engaged with the profession through reading (15 minutes a day is manageable and does the trick).

Mentorship was another common topic – it’s important to not only have mentors (think of mentorship as a constellation; no one person will be able to meet all of your needs, so it can be useful to have several who are experienced with the different areas you are interested and working on) but to pay it forward through mentorship. As early career librarians, it can be easy to think we don’t have much to offer yet in terms of mentorship, but I’ve found that sharing my experiences about the academic librarianship interview process and what it’s like to be a resident librarian have been helpful to the MLIS students who have approached me. We all have something to offer. Honestly, there was so much rich and engaging discussion at this event that it’s hard to do justice to it in a blog post. This preconference contained a lot of valuable information, advice, and exercises for resident librarians but the best part, by far, was being able to be in community with my peers on this exciting journey.

Social Justice as a Core Professional Value: One Library’s Story

The first session I attended was focused on how we can make our libraries more just places. Raina Bloom, Carrie Kruse, and Kalani Adolpho (a fellow resident librarian!) talked about how their library embraced social justice and non-neutrality as core operating values after they were inspired by student activists who conducted a historic in-library protest during finals week. I was excited to see they had created a workbook (in zine format!) for us to think about our own answers to some of the questions, the panelists were discussing around our personal library stories, the communities we serve, important incidents that have lasting resonance on the way we work, and what we can do/what we are doing. I appreciated how Kalani, Carrie, and Raina created space for us to be vulnerable in our small-group discussions by being vulnerable themselves. They created a space where we could get past “But I’m just a _____!” and begin doing the actual work.

Moving Beyond Race 101: Speculative Futuring for Equity

The panelists (Jennifer Brown, Sofia Leung, Marisa Mendez-Brady, and Jennifer Ferretti) want us to move beyond a framework of diversity, inclusion, and equity that either a) focuses on solutions that don’t solicit input from marginalized communities or b) is expected to be done by those already overburdened by the impacts of higher education institutions built on whiteness. They pushed us to move beyond this framework, offering us strategies and language to help move these discussions forward. In small groups, we participated in a collaborative storytelling exercise using visual storytelling decks to work on collectively envisioning an inclusive and equity-based future for libraries. I had to leave halfway through because I got sick but working together with other allies, advocates, and accomplices on imagining speculative futures based in anti-oppression work and social justice was a powerful experience. Check out the Libraries We Here community (a supportive social community for archive and library workers of color) to learn more about this work.

I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do because of a lupus flare (I’m so incredibly grateful for caring and supportive colleagues who helped me through the experience of dealing with chronic illness while traveling) but the workshops and presentations I did have a chance to attend were engaging and informative. It was such a great experience to share knowledge and build community with other library workers. I came back to my home institution feeling reinvigorated and excited to start putting the ideas the conference inspired into place. I even created an ACRL 2019 mini-zine to share what I learned with my colleagues who couldn’t attend. I’m looking forward to returning in 2021!

Karina Hagelin is an artist, community organizer, and librarian at Cornell University. Their (art)work is centered in radical vulnerability, healing as resistance, and queer femme magic. They are passionate about healing justice, queer & feminist zines, cats, fatshion, and gossip as a site of resistance. You can find more information on their website or find them on twitter (@karinahagelin).

Self-Care is Not Selfish: Reflections from ALA Annual 2019

This year, I was able to attend ALA Annual for the first time. I learned a lot from the workshops, panels, and sessions I attended but one of the most salient and crucial for me was on self-care. This was the first session I attended and set the tone for the rest of my conference.

The panel was “Self-Care is Not Selfish: Preventing Burnout,” presented by Emily Clasper, Janie Hermann, Djaz Zulida, Carson Block, and Kyle Courtney. I also want to give a shout-out to Sarah Houghton who couldn’t be there in person but graciously recorded a video for us!

As a disabled person who is chronically ill and believes in interdependence, community care, and anti-capitalism as a way to dismantle the systemic issues which create the need for much of our self-care, I am very critical of a lot of self-care discourse. However, this panel also highlighted the importance taking care of each other. When reflecting on my conference experience, I kept thinking back to how this panel - so I created a zine based on what I learned and questions it raised for me, grounded in the practice of radical vulnerability.

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In this zine, I talk about the power of no, navigating ALA Annual events held at bars as a person in recovery, creating space for others to share their stories, what it means to be "healthy" as a chronically ill person and including disabled people in self-care, and what self-care is. I also discuss the power of community care and collective change in addressing the systemic issues that create the need for self-care, interdependence, how we can show up for each other at work, recognizing/preventing burnout, and the importance of knowing your local resources.

This zine was originally created for my Cornell colleagues who couldn’t attend ALA Annual this year but if you’d like a color copy, I’d be happy to send one to you in exchange for $3 for postage. Please e-mail me if you’re interested!

Recasting the Narrative: An ACRL 2019 Mini-Zine

I just returned from the 2019 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference in Cleveland, which was an affirming, magical, and informative couple of days. Despite experiencing a lupus flare and ending up urgent care, I was still able to attend some amazing workshops, presentations, and panels like “Moving Beyond Race 101: Speculative Futuring for Equity” and “Social Justice as a Core Professional Value: One Library's Story”. I also had the opportunity to take part in a pre-conference for Diversity Fellows called “Taking Charge of Narrative”, which was an amazing experience. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to connect, build relationships with, and learn from other Diversity Fellows from around the country!

As a way to report back to my colleagues who couldn’t attend, share ideas, and spark conversations, I made a mini-zine about what I learned this year at ACRL. It was a fun, creative, way to talk about what I learned at the conference when I returned to Cornell. Since I received several requests to purchase this zine, I thought I’d make it available here in exchange for a few dollars for postage or towards trauma therapy / healing process. If you’re interested in obtaining a copy, please e-mail me your mailing address.

In solidarity and care,

Karina

International Zine Month and the Zine Librarians (Un)Conference

"[Zines] are education and revelation, empowerment and healing, giddy secret and proud f-you” - Andi Zeisler

July is International Zine Month (aka IZM), a fantastic month dedicated to celebrating and creating zines with a rich calendar of events that feature ways to be involved each and every day. 

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July 1 – CanaZine Day! Buy, read, or share zines from Canada for Canada Day!
July 2 – Zine Rewind! Re-read your favorite zines and remind yourself why you fell in love with them in the first place.
July 3 – Teach a friend or family member about zines or even a stranger!
July 4 – AmeriZine Day! Explore marginalized voices in America. Buy, share, and read zines about racial justice and zines written by people of color.
July 5 – Review a zine online or write a review to share in your own zine.
July 6 – Zine Pride Day! Explore LGBTQIA zines! Buy, share, and read zines by people of marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities. Check out the Queer Zine Archive Project!
July 7 – Zine Distro Appreciation Day! Order zines from a distro to get yourself some reading material for IZM2018
July 8 – Cook with a recipe you found in a zine!
July 9  – Write a letter to a zine penpal
July 10 – Write a letter to a zine maker you don’t know
July 11- International Zine Day! Buy, share, or read zines from a country different than your own
July 12 – ZineWiki Day! Add to or update zinewiki.com
July 13 -Friday the 13th! Make up a zine superstition and share it (skip the 13th issue? Spin 3 times to prevent copier jams or avoid paper cuts? Let your best friend read your zine before anyone else?)
July 14 – ValenZines Day! Give yourself some zine love in whatever way it means to you! read zines in a bubble bath? Buy some new scissors? Let your zine friends know you care about them.
July – 15 Free Zine Day! Give zines away or leave zines in public place for a stranger to find
July 16 – Make a list of reasons you love zines and share it with others
July 17 – make a flyer for your zine to trade with others or to send out with zine orders and trades
July 18 – Zine trade Day! Ask someone to trade zines
July – 19 Send your zine to a distro for consideration in the distro
July 20 – Zine Shop Appreciation Day! Visit your local zine shop!
July 21 – Zine Library Day! Visit your local zine library. Don’t have one in your area? Why not start one?
July 22 – Send or drop off your zine to a zine library to be included in their collection
July 23 – Order zines from a different zine distro
July 24 -Teach yourself a new zine skill like a new binding technique or how to make a 1 page zine
July 25 –  Send your zine out for review to a website or magazine that does reviews
July 26 – Organize your zine collection
July 27 – Post online about some of your favorite zines!
July 28 – Plan or attend a zine event! Big or tiny!
July 29 – Take a photo of you with your zine or zine collection and post it online
July 30 – Write a letter or post about your IZM2018
July 31 – HallowZine! Remember zines and zinesters that are no longer with us.

Extra Credit:

  • Read a zine everyday

  • Attend or organize a zine event

  • Do a 24-hour zine. Sign up at 24hourzines.com

  • Draw a comic a day, then release a comic zine.

  • Write about our progress daily online.

This year for IZM, I’ve been tweeting about my participation on Twitter with the hashtag #IZM2018. I’ll also be attending the 2018 Zine Librarian (Un)Conference which is an informative and inspirational (and fun!) gathering of zine librarians, zinesters, and people who care deeply about zines and their ability to change lives for the better. I’ve been dreaming of going to this (un)conference for years; this year will be my first-ever time attending! I can’t wait to tell you about what I learn and experience this year.

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xoxo Karina