Steering Share: Meet Steering Committee Member Holly Croft

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes courtesy of committee member Holly Croft, the digital archivist at Georgia College. 

 

1) What was your first experience working with archives?

Archiving is a second career for me, and I quit the first without a clear plan with what I wanted to do next. I started volunteering on an indexing project for a nonprofit where I would attach metadata to digital versions of their collection materials. It was extremely calming in a time where I felt that many things were up in the air, and I would spend hours working on the indexes.

Because it was a volunteer position, I didn’t catch on immediately that the indexing project was part of a larger career field, but I eventually researched it and learned the avenues through which one becomes an archivist. The following fall, I applied to graduate school, and I have never looked back!

2) What do you hope to gain by being on the I&A Steering Committee?

I am so delighted to be a part of the I&A Steering Committee, and I am looking forward to working with the rest of the committee to assist archivists who need support in a variety of ways. As Joanna mentioned in her Steering Share, this is a small community, so it only makes sense that we’re stronger together.

3) What is an archival issue that means a lot to you?

Recently, this committee has taken a look at labor practices particularly surrounding temporary positions and the precarity they create for those who end up taking them. This is, unfortunately, an ongoing concern.

I also am increasingly uneasy with additional labor dumped on archivists, particularly under the guise of “other duties as assigned” and “doing less with more.” This is a topic that hits labor markets well beyond archives, but I’ll bet the majority of archivists have a story about these phrases biting them in some way at their jobs.

These are only two of a myriad of topics affecting archivists today, and I am looking forward to being able to assist where possible.

4) What can we find you doing outside of the archival profession?

I have become the crazy cat lady people warn you about becoming in library school! Two months ago, I had two cats. I took in a stray that looked a little rotund at the beginning of October, and mid-October, I suddenly had six cats.

Just kidding – I could tell there were kittens coming when I took in the third. So, I’m spending a lot of time socializing these little ones and getting them ready for their forever homes.

Additionally, I love cooking and preserving food, gardening, and reading.

Steering Share: Meet Committee Member Sheridan Leigh Sayles

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes courtesy of committee member Sheridan Leigh Sayles, technical services archivist at Seton Hall University.

1) What was your first experience working with archives

SpringShare profile picI grew up in a town rooted in history—Richmond, VA—and always had a love and fascination with old things. When I went to undergrad, I started working in the Library and that inspired me to look into all aspects of heritage work. I enrolled in the Museum Studies minor and learned about exhibit design, preservation, and got the opportunity to intersperse practical work with my studies. I fell in love with the practice of handling the objects—I remember one day getting to see the preservation housing for an outfit worn by President James Monroe in Paris, and I knew I’d found the right career!

2) What do you hope to gain by being on the I&A Steering Committee?

This is my first year on the Steering Committee, so I am still learning about what the committee does and how we affect SAA policy and all that good stuff, but I feel like we are in a good position to connect archivists with resources that can help them in their careers and with their interests. Through our blog and other resources, we can connect archivists at all stages of their careers with material to help them do their jobs better, or advocate for themselves and the practices they’d like to uphold. And I’m thrilled to be working with the I&A veterans and learning from them on how to affect change.

3) What is an archival issue that means a lot to you?

I’m really invested in archival labor and supporting early career professionals! I’m currently working with colleagues at University of Delaware and NYU on a research project into the status of term-limited (project) archivists and I’m hoping that our data can help define the scope of project positions. I think a big part of this question starts with ethical internships and making sure that the work they are doing will ultimately translate into success on the job market. Beyond that, I’ve been following the research on archivists and climate change and seeing recommendations on that.
4) What can we find you doing outside of the archival profession?

I was a competitive figure skater in a past life, so you can often find me in an ice rink jumping, spinning, and all that good stuff, or coaching youngsters. It’s so rewarding taking my students to their first competitions, not only to see how much they’ve grown as skaters, but also to show them how hard work can pay off.

Steering Sharing: Meet I&A Committee Member Samantha Brown

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes courtesy of committee member Samantha Brown, Assistant Archivist at the New-York Historical Society.

1) What was your first experience working with archives?

IMG_20180510_195725578_2My first experience working in an archive was in graduate school. During my second semester, I had taken a processing class where you split your time between the classroom and a field site. While at the field site, I had a friendly relationship with the archivists and assisted them with a project. A few months after the class ended, out of the blue, I received an email from the supervisory archivist at the field site asking if I was interested in a job. Being a grad student, and constantly in need of money, I excitedly jumped at the chance to gain more experience in my chosen profession while also gaining a bit of money to help pay my mounting bills. 

The job itself gave me a wide range of experiences. The focus of the job was on processing but I also gained experience providing reference services in a university setting and digitizing a wide range of documents. Getting to work in a professional setting during grad school was incredibly help. I was able to learn what the job was like on a day to day basis and learn about what parts of the profession fit me and my skills best. 

2) What do you hope to gain by being on the I&A Steering Committee?

During my first year on the committee, I feel like I was just trying to get a hold on what the expectations for me were. While I had previously served on the committee as an intern, being a full committee member is a different experience and comes with a new set of rules. Now that I’m in my second year, I want to work on building connections between archivists. Many of us seem to be struggling with our jobs for one reason or another and it would be great if we could find a way to support each other, to help others out during times of strife. 

3) What is an archival issue that means a lot to you?

As a profession, I feel like there are many issues that were facing. One problem that I was confronted with recently is legitimizing our profession to people that don’t use our services. Of course historians, social scientists, and genealogists will see the value of archives and archivists but how do you get scientists or engineers to care about what your doing. Historical records aren’t things they need to deal with on a daily basis and, because of this, many people in those fields see our work as something unimportant.If we want to continue our work and receive the funding that we so desperately need then we need to find a way to reach people who don’t use archives and teach them about the inherent value of historical records. We can’t spend all of our time educating people, of course, but if people keep thinking of history as an unknowable and unreachable thing then they won’t value what we can provide them.

4) What can we find you doing outside of the archival profession?

Outside of work, I’m a bit of a nerd. I enjoy playing Dungeons Dragons, reading scifi and fantasy novels, and playing video games. Nothing beats getting together with a group of friends and fighting off a dragon. 

Steering Share: Meet I&A’s New Chair Joanna Black

JoJoBlackMy name is Joanna Black, and I am the 2019-2020 chair of SAA’s Issues & Advocacy section. What an honor it is to be part of such an impactful and meaningful section, and it’s an equal honor to be working alongside very talented professionals in the section’s Steering Committee.

This is the first Steering Share blog post of the season, so please let me take a moment with the rest of my colleagues to tell you a little bit more about myself.

1) What was your first experience working with archives?

My first experience working with archives was in 2008 as an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University. I was looking for an internship and came across a listing for an “Archives Intern” at the University’s Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives. I didn’t know anything about archives, but it sounded mysterious enough for me to take a chance. Upon working with my first “archival object” – a 60 year old recording of an on-campus poetry reading from Allen Ginsberg – I knew immediately that there was something special about working with archival materials. I was hooked, and off to an MLIS program I went!

2) What do you hope to gain by being on the I&A Steering Committee?

Actively participating in the I&A Steering Committee is such a privilege, and I hope to learn from my colleagues and fellow section members more about the issues that are most impactful to our profession. Additionally, I hope to learn some of the creative ways in which those issues are being tackled both inside and outside of SAA. Being part of a small profession places extra importance on building strong professional communities, and I aim to build this with fellow section members as well as with SAA members more broadly. By the end of my tenure as chair, I hope to know many more SAA members on a first name basis and learn more about their experiences working in the archives profession.

3) What is an archival issue that means a lot to you?

Advocating for the importance of the archival profession is a really important issue to me. Our jobs are made so much more difficult when, on top of our impossible workloads, we are tasked with advocating for our positions – even within our own organizations! Each of us entered the archival profession because the work means something significant to us, and communicating that passion to others is an important way to strengthen public awareness around the significance of our work. As much as I like being a secret superhero of cultural heritage, broader awareness of the archives profession would help ensure job and funding stability, public engagement with cultural and historical resources, and a possible societal shift in how we think about our past, present, and future heritage.

4) What can we find you doing outside of the archival profession?

When I’m not thinking about memory, metadata, or manuscripts, I enjoy the simpler things in domestic life: writing, reading, gardening, listening to music, playing with my two cats, and taking walks through the gorgeous California redwoods surrounding my home in Oakland, California. I also really love sleeping. 

Steering Share: Stability Matters

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes courtesy of I&A committee member, Sara DeCaro, University Archivist and Old Castle Museum Director at Baker University Library.

This blog post was prompted by a conversation I had with another archivist. It also addresses the use of temporary labor.

If you are reading this, you are almost certainly a regular reader of the Issues and Advocacy blog. That means you are likely aware of the survey studying temporary labor that our section recently created. You may have even taken the survey, or held one, or multiple, temporary jobs within the archival profession, and are probably very familiar with the frustrations of working in a temporary position. You might be surprised to learn, then, that at least one employer believes that archivists prefer temporary positions.

The archivist I was chatting with had recently learned about the temporary labor survey. They were unaware of it when we initially requested respondents, but were happy to hear that our section had started the project. They agreed with me that the survey was a useful and important undertaking. One of their reasons for this, however, was news to me.

“My boss thinks younger archivists prefer temporary positions,” said the other archivist. “She thinks they don’t want to be tied down, and want to have freedom to move around.”

I was aghast.

Yes, there are some archivists who like the flexibility of temporary positions. I don’t mean to disparage them. Some archivists can afford to have that freedom, due to a breadwinning spouse or another means of income. If you are one of these people, that’s great. Our survey indicates, however, that this is by far the exception rather than the rule.

A theme that ran consistently through the survey responses was one of instability, and the frustrations it creates. “I’m ready to start having children, but I don’t know if I’ll have a job in a year” or “My partner and I would like to buy a house, but we might have to move for my job” were” were some responses that stood out to me. Several people mentioned delaying one major life decision or another and cited the uncertainty of their position as the reason why.

Another thing I noticed was the use of the word “anxiety.” It was everywhere. Many respondents used it. Would their job be renewed for another year? Would they be able to find another job if it wasn’t? Would they have to move again? What about all the time they would have to devote to the application process itself? Anxiety seems like a very appropriate word to describe these responses, and one that just begins to scratch the surface.

Responses like the ones above far outweighed the responses that expressed a preference for temporary jobs. There were several hundred responses, too, which is an amount that seems to be a decent sample of archivists in general. Based on that information alone, I believe it’s fair to say that a desire for a stable, permanent position is definitely the norm.

I don’t know that other archivist’s supervisor, or how widespread their assumption is that there is a preference for temporary positions among archivists. I do, however, feel like I should dispel that notion immediately. The ubiquity of temporary jobs in the archives profession is taking a toll on us, mentally and financially. We need to have many more conversations about how we can address this.

End of Year Steering Share: Thoughts on the Archival Job Market

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This end-of-the-year post is from Steering Committee member Samantha Brown, Assistant Archivist at the New-York Historical Society.

As this committee year comes to an end, I have begun thinking about the issues that our committee and SAA at large will be facing in the coming years. While questions of accessibility and preservation will still be looming far into the future, the biggest problem our profession will face in the years to come is retention. How does our field retain talented and enthusiastic young archivists when their career prospects are so uncertain?

While many of us enter the field with big hopes and dreams, we’re soon confronted with the reality of the limited positions available in our profession. Job applicants soon discover that jobs are hard to come by and the ones that are available are either part-time or contract gigs. Even though securing one these positions feels like a success the reality of the position soon becomes evident. You might have a job now but positions is temporary and you need to start applying for new positions immediately. Unless you’re lucky enough to find a permanent job, you’re constantly in a cycle of applying and reapplying for new positions. This situation begs the question of whether it’s ethical to have a field that largely consists of part-time and temporary positions. Is it right to allow people to enter a field that has such limited options?

When discussing this dilemma, people have suggested that universities should limit the amount of students allowed to enter archival studies tracks. As of right now, it’s unknown whether less students entering the archival field would fix the jobs problem. However, what we do know is that limiting entry into the field creates a whole new set of problems. When setting limits, universities must create a set of criteria that students must meet to enter a university’s program. Unless universities develop a way to do blind admissions, these criteria could very well reinforce biases that already exist within the profession and prevent underrepresented groups from being able to enter the profession.

Another issue with limiting entry into archival studies programs is that it just deals with the surface issue of our profession. While there will be less people fighting and competing for jobs, there is no guarantee that more permanent, full-time jobs will be created or that higher wages will be offered. While there is definitely a pool of people applying for archives positions, the issue isn’t the number of people searching or the number of jobs available but how institutions value archival labor. Since archival work isn’t seen as valuable to the institutions that employ us, our employers don’t see the need to provide decent compensations. Unless we can convince people that the work we do is important and contributes something positive to the world, no one will want to create jobs for us. In order for our profession to thrive and grow, we need others to see our value and desire to employ us so that archivists can stay in the field rather than having to leave and find other work to support themselves.

Steering Share: Reflections on the Archival Profession

Steering Shares  provide an opportunity to learn more about the I&A Steering Committee and the issues that the committee members care about. This post comes courtesy of committee member Steve Duckworth, University Archivist at Oregon Health & Science University.

It’s my last Steering Share! Until a week ago, I thought I had another year left in my term and now that I find I’m about to be off the team, my perspective on what to write today has changed. I’ve been asked to run for chair or vice-chair for the section to help keep the momentum going, but I’m now really looking forward to a year off (at least) from SAA service. I&A has focused a lot on issues around labor and equity within the profession. I think we’ve raised some good questions and hopefully we’ve helped get people thinking about these big issues.

But personally, I’m conflicted. We have a problem with diversity in the profession (admit it or not – it’s there and don’t come at me with your rebuttals to this claim). We’re underpaid. We’re frequently undervalued. There is a large focus on temporary and other project-based work. And, on the positive side, there is professional movement against all of this. However, I’m not sure where best to focus to help make meaningful change.

Should we try to “diversify” the profession? Should I really be encouraging more people to come into a profession with a fairly limited market for jobs that are also generally underpaid?

Should we try to tamp down on temporary jobs? Does that mean that – overall – even fewer people will be employed? Will it be even harder for recent graduates to get a foot in the door? Will more records go unprocessed and hidden?

Should we advocate for more visibility and better funding? If we are paid better for our work, where does that money come from? Budgets always have trade-offs. Do I get more money but less staff? Does higher pay necessitate higher workload and stress level? Given our high percentage of academic affiliation, as we push up our requirements, do we also raise qualifications? Will archivists eventually all need a PhD – raising the bar for entrance to the profession even higher?

These are some thoughts that go through my head when someone asks me to serve on a committee or a career panel or teach a course. I honestly really enjoy the work I do and I’d love to have more cool people in the profession, but I’m not sure the profession is one that I can squarely get behind and encourage people to enter. I don’t know.

So this is why I’m looking forward to a little bit of down time. I mean – I’ve been out of library school for just over 5 years and in that time, I’ve held 4 (or so) archival jobs in Philadelphia, PA; Anchorage, AK; Gainesville, FL; and Portland, OR (in that order – that’s a lot of moving). I’ve served on SAA’s Diversity Committee and the I&A Steering Committee (plus local and regional group work). I’ve published articles and written blog posts. I’ve presented at over 10 conferences. I’ve mentored 8 or so other budding archival professionals. And in two weeks I’ll begin teaching an introductory archives course (ironic, right?).

I’m tired! And we all need to take time to clear our heads now and then.

So, thank you to I&A for the chance to meet some amazing people, provide some service to this profession (which I do really enjoy despite what some may think after reading this), and open my eyes to a lot of things I wish I could change.

Steering Share: A Reading List for Practicing Allyship in Archives

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes from I&A Chair Courtney Dean, Head of the Center for Primary Research and Training in UCLA Library Special Collections.

ArchivesNotNeutral

For the final Steering Share of my term as I&A Chair I was planning to provide an update on our section’s temporary labor survey which closed earlier this month. (We had 412 responses!) Instead, when I sat down to write last evening, I quickly found myself going down the wormhole of comments about a recent blog post that was shared via Library Journal’s Twitter account. I won’t go into too much detail (you can look it up yourself) but for those unfamiliar with the situation, a WOC librarian wrote a blog post about the whiteness of library collections, and as so often happens when POC speak truth about racism, the internet trolls came out en masse. (I encourage those of you on Twitter to go in and report them. It’s a quick and somewhat satisfying process.) Appalling enough as it is to have THOUSANDS of strangers leaving vitriolic, hateful, and blatantly racist comments, while also posting photos of the author and details about her workplace, it was especially reprehensible to see other librarians attacking her.

As archivists we’re sometimes inclined to think we don’t have a similar whiteness problem in our field, however one only needs to look at the numbers, or recall the backlash to Dr. Michelle Caswell’s Dismantling White Supremacy session at SAA a few years ago. For all of our talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we still struggle to recruit and retain archivists of color, and to acknowledge bias in our collecting practices. To this day I have colleagues who refuse to recognize that archives are not neutral.

Instead of continuing to rely on the on the intellectual and emotional labor of POC colleagues to tirelessly critique and challenge this problematic myth of neutrality, I encourage my fellow white archivists to check out the reading list below and start practicing allyship. We can all be doing better.

Below is a brief reading list in no particular order:

Issues and Advocacy: Archivists On The Issues: Answering The Call For Inclusivity, Summer Espinoza https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/archivists-on-the-issues-answering-the-call-for-inclusivity/

Issues and Advocacy: Archivists on the Issues: Reflections on Privilege in the Archives, Summer Espinoza https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/archivists-on-the-issues-reflections-on-privilege-in-the-archives/

Issues and Advocacy: #ARCHIVESSOWHITE In The Words Of Jarrett Drake  https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/archivessowhite-in-the-words-of-jarrett-drake/

Honma, T. (2005). Trippin’ Over the Color Line: The Invisibility of Race in Library and Information Studies. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 1(2). Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4nj0w1mp

Joan M. Schwartz and Terry Cook, “Archives, records, and power: The making of modern memory” Archival Science (2002) 2: 1, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02435628.

Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, “Moving Toward a Reparative Archive: A Roadmap for a Holistic Approach to Disrupting Homogenous Histories in Academic Repositories and Creating Inclusive Spaces for Marginalized Voices” Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies vol. 5, (2018) https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol5/iss1/6/

Nicole A. Cook Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (California: ABC-CLIO, 2017)

Mario H. Ramirez (2015) Being Assumed Not to Be: A Critique of Whiteness as an Archival Imperative. The American Archivist: Fall/Winter 2015, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 339-356. https://doi.org/10.17723/0360-9081.78.2.339

Expanding #ArchivesForBlackLives to Traditional Archival Repositories, Jarrett Drake, June 27, 2016. https://medium.com/on-archivy/expanding-archivesforblacklives-to-traditional-archival-repositories-b88641e2daf6

Caswell, Michelle (2017).  Teaching to Dismantle White Supremacy in Archives.Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 87(3) 223-235. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu.libproxy.csudh.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/692299

Caswell, Michelle & Brilmyer, Gracen (2016).  Identifying & Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives: An Incomplete List of White Privileges in Archives and Action Items for Dismantling Them.  http://www.gracenbrilmyer.com/dismantling_whiteSupremacy_archives3.pdf  

Taylor, Chris (2017). Getting Our House in Order: Moving from Diversity to Inclusion. The American Archivist, 80(1), 19-29. https://doi.org/10.17723/0360-9081.80.1.19

Steering Share: The Spousal Subsidy: Gender and Low Wages in the Archives Profession

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post comes courtesy of I&A committee member, Sara DeCaro, University Archivist and Old Castle Museum Director at Baker University Library.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about Issues and Advocacy Steering Committee meetings is the interest we all seem to have in labor and wage issues. I can attest from personal experience that this is something that needs to be addressed throughout our profession. I also wonder frequently why this is still an issue. Most archivist positions require at least one advanced degree and a very specific skill set, so why aren’t wages on par with education and abilities?

I don’t believe there is just one answer to the question above. There are a number of factors contributing to low wages in the archives profession. The Society of Southwest Archivist’s recently released an article that addresses the inequity in pay between directors and staff, which is certainly one explanation. I’m sure that the survey our section recently released will shed light on other factors, too, but in the meantime, I wanted to know if there was more information already out there. When I did some digging, I found out that low wages are, unsurprisingly, an issue among museum professionals as well. And although there are obvious differences between our professions, there is also some overlap, and one author mentioned something that rang true for archivists, museum workers, and librarians: the spousal subsidy.

The spousal subsidy is the idea that some jobs can have a lower salary because the person in that position is married to someone else in a higher-paying career. Most of the time, in the past, the man made a higher salary, so women could afford to take jobs with lower pay.

The spousal subsidy is a result of the perception that certain jobs are “women’s work.” The phrase “pink-collar” was coined to describe professions that have a large percentage of female workers. Sometimes, that term was applied because the job had a large caretaking component; nurses and teachers are the obvious examples. Caretaking and child-rearing were seen as something inherently female, so these jobs were feminized. Other jobs with large percentages of women workers fell victim to this mentality as well; libraries, which have had a majority of female workers for years, are the classic example, but since the 1980s, this has also been true of archives.

Marital status is obviously no reason to discriminate against anyone. As someone who is divorced and has had the experience of living in both two-income and one-income households, however, I can tell you that the second income makes a big difference. Many employers have taken advantage of gender gap in wages over the years, and the majority of women in archives jobs has undoubtedly contributed to low salaries. Positions that are perceived as being “women’s work” fall victim to the spousal subsidy mentality: women can be paid less, because they have the support of their husband’s income. This type of archaic thinking may be one factor that continues to drive down wages and keep new employees’ pay low.

The spousal subsidy attitude hits emerging professionals particularly hard. Many recent graduates are young, single adults. Student loan debt is also a problem among this group, which has been saddled with this burden more than previous generations. On top of these issues, new professionals are facing outdated and sexist attitudes about salaries. When institutions have been able to get away with offering low wages for decades, convincing them to change is difficult.

I believe I have demonstrated that there is some deeply entrenched gender bias behind archivists’ low pay. I also think, from what I’ve observed on SAA listservs, that there are plenty of people within our profession that agree that these antiquated notions about wages need to go. I hope we can come together to affect positive change within our profession for everyone.

 

Steering Share: Thoughts on the Idea of Professionalism

Steering Shares  provide an opportunity to learn more about the I&A Steering Committee and the issues that the committee members care about. This post comes courtesy of committee member Steve Duckworth, University Archivist at Oregon Health & Science University.

I want to talk about professionalism, or more specifically, the idea of professionalism and how it can (and often is) used to make people conform and can be a tool that hinders diversity and creativity. I’ve wanted to talk about this for a while – partly due to personal experiences – and then “the incident” with April Hathcock took place at ALA Midwinter. I knew it wasn’t just me and felt this post could take one of her many salient points and focus on a large set of the archival profession.

I, like many of you, work in academia. And even many of you who don’t work in academia are likely impacted by the practices of it. I often find myself rubbing up against some of these norms. The ones that work slowly and through long conversations in multiple committees and working groups. The ones that use policies to explain choices, but break those policies when they really want something. The ones where people like to complain about people, but not to people. And yes, these are gross generalizations, but they are also sometimes just gross.

Our profession also talks all the time about how homogenous we are and struggles to find ways to change it, ways to diversify the profession or our collections or our outreach. But I’m not sure if the desire for more diversity is stronger than the desire to maintain this air of academic … politeness.

I say this because I see many of our attempts at diversity as a form of tokenism, with the most frequent offering being something like a two-year “diversity” position for people fresh out of their Master’s program. While it’s helpful, it doesn’t change our culture. It looks at this “diverse” person and says, ‘We’re going to teach you how to be one of us’ or ‘We’re going to hire you to solve all of our diversity problems,’ but we’re not going to commit to you. It doesn’t look at our practices and offer ‘Perhaps we should be more accepting of different styles of interaction’ or ‘Let’s listen to some new ideas and actually try them out.’ It doesn’t change us, it just looks good on paper and makes us feel like we’re helping.

We invite people for day-long (sometimes 2!) interviews and see it as a test of their endurance or stamina, but we don’t make the effort to inform the candidates about this practice they may never have been through. We continue to ask surprise questions in interviews, and then judge people who are likely nervous (and quite possibly introverted) if they can’t come up with perfect answers on the spot. Our MLIS programs overwhelmingly do not to teach any aspect of the job searching and interviewing process. They teach the theory, sometimes the practice, and send you out without even a functional résumé or any clue about just how many jobs you may apply for before even getting an interview.

What we need is more compassion and more care about the people we say we want as our colleagues. As someone in a position to hire a new librarian, recall your own job search and look for new ways to make the interview process more inviting. Be more open-minded about professional backgrounds and embrace ideas that may be unfamiliar to you. When someone directly speaks to an offense against them, investigate it; if they offer an opposing viewpoint, consider it before dismissing it. If you are witness to bigotry, speak up. All of these things can be done respectfully if we respect each other. But respect comes in many forms, and that, too, should be respected.