Politics of Libraries III:

Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Intersectionality in LIS

April – May 2021, Online



*Please note: Registration for each presentation will be capped at 275 guests. Any registrations over that amount will be put on a waiting list.

April 23, 12-1 pm MST – Indicators of Truly Epic Post-ness: Information Literacy, Authority, and the Contemporary Political Podcasting Ecosystem, Joel Blechinger

Both of LIS’ guiding documents on IL – 2000’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and its more recent successor, 2016’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education – face significant challenges in the “wild west” of contemporary political podcasting. Specifically, political podcasting is where “authority” – as traditionally constructed and understood by LIS – is, I would like to argue, liquefied in quite radical ways. I will look closely at the right-wing conspiracist phenomenon QAnon, and how it has been analyzed across the spectrum of contemporary political podcasting to illustrate this brave new world of liquid authority.

April 30, 12-1 pm MST – Invited Presentation:The Intersectionality of Racism, Dr. Farha Shariff

Exploring intersectionality allows educators to dialogue around a set of questions that will lead them to a better sense of their students’ full selves, the challenges, the grace and the beauty that is needed to juggle multiple identities seamlessly, and how education and library and information sciences perpetuate injustice. The concept of intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others. There are many different types of privilege, not just skin-color privilege, that impact the way people can move through the world or are discriminated against. These are all things you are born into, not things you earned, that afford you opportunities that others may not have. As Crenshaw (2016) asserts, “…many of our social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice.” When educators shy away from intersectionality, we shy away from fully ever knowing our students’ humanity and the richness of their identities.

May 7, 12-1 pm MST – Canadian Academic Librarians and Job Offer Negotiations, Paula Cardozo, Emma Scott, Mary Greenshields

This presentation will begin with a summary of the first survey ever conducted on the job offer negotiations of Canadian academic librarians. Like previous American studies, our results indicated that even in a female-populated profession, women are still less likely to negotiate than men; however, the lack of diversity within the profession makes it more difficult to gauge the impact race, gender identity, sexuality, and disability have on negotiation propensity and behaviour in Canada. Intersectional theory provides a useful backdrop to discuss connections and lacunas. While it is not the responsibility for any equity-seeking group to negotiate their way out of the wage gap, negotiation conversations can empower librarians in future employment offer negotiations to improve salaries and working conditions.  

May 14, 12-1 pm MST – Invited Presentation: Patron-Perpetrated Sexual Harassment in Libraries: Early Findings From a National Survey, Dr. Danielle Allard, Dr. Tami Oliphant, Angela Lieu

Patron-perpetrated Sexual Harassment (PPSH) is the sexual harassment of library workers by the very people they endeavor to support— library patrons. Despite growing calls within libraries and Library and Information Studies (LIS) to examine this issue, patron-perpetrated sexual harassment against library workers is largely ignored and research on this topic is noticeably lacking. The PPSH in libraries research project initiates conversation amongst LIS students, educators, library workers, administrators, and patrons to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of patron-perpetrated sexual harassment in libraries and to destigmatize and combat what we argue is a harmful yet “everyday” form of gender-based violence. In this presentation we will report on our early findings from a national survey completed by library workers across Canada about their experiences of PPSH in their workplaces.

May 28, 12-1 pm, MST – “The Entire Day is an Act of Restraint” : The Devaluing of Emotional Labour in Library Work, Dr. Joanne Rodger, Dr. Norene Erickson

Library work is emotional. As the increasingly social role of the library redefines expectations of service, the challenges of working in libraries become greater than ever. The American Library Association emphasizes the social, economic, and educational role of the 21st century library to help solve social problems and add value to a community. This increase in social responsibilities is shown to have repercussions on library staff well-being, most notably as a result of the emotional labour performed by public service. Library work, like many public-service industries, involves emotional labour, which is the idea that one must regulate their emotions in order to accomplish their job. There are clear connections between the sociology of emotional labour and affective labour that has characterized library work and which describes the historical feminized profession of librarianship. This type of labour has been undervalued compared to intellectual labour, goes largely unrecognized economically, and is not typically seen as an asset to one’s job.

About Politics of Libraries

Politics of Libraries is an ongoing conference series organized by an interested group of librarians, information professionals, students, and academics. The first conference was held in 2018 in Edmonton, Alberta, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the global 1968 social protests. The goal of the first conference was to provide a place for critical discussions on the politics of libraries that are too often excluded from workplaces and classrooms.

In 2019, the Politics of Libraries II: Labour of Libraries conference was again held in Edmonton, extending discussions from the initial conference and also reflecting on the centennial anniversary of the labour unrest following World War I and the Winnipeg General Strike. In early 2020, planning had been underway for Politics of Libraries III, to be held in Edmonton, but those plans were put on hold with the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Reflecting on the events of the past few years, from the # MeToo movement to the Black Lives Matter protests, and the growing critical discussions both in within and outside of library and information studies, Politics of Libraries III: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Intersectionality in LIS aims to continue to provide a forum for critical discussions in LIS, albeit with a revised format.

Call for Proposals

Politics of Libraries III seeks to generate thoughtful and much needed conversation about LIS politics and labour, and their complicated and contested relationship with gender, race, sexuality, and intersectionality. The in-person conference format aimed to provide a space for critical discussions while also being as inclusive as possible. Unfortunately, the move to an online environment makes achieving these goals more challenging. As such, Politics of Libraries III will take the form of a pre-recorded speaker series entailing a combination of reviewed public contributions as well as invited presentations on topics related to the theme, with live Q&A discussions to follow.

The current organizers acknowledge that the spirit of invited talks goes against the original Politics of Libraries format, which eschewed even inviting a keynote speaker. However, through much discussion, it was determined that this approach best balances continuing these necessary critical conversations and providing speakers with a forum to have such conversations.

We would like to invite those who are interested in the themes of this year’s conference, especially as they pertain to libraries and information professionals, to submit a 500-word abstract to politicsoflibraries@gmail.com by February 23rd, 2021. Given the sensitive nature of this conference theme, we will be carefully evaluating all submissions to ensure inclusivity and respect are reflected. If your submission is accepted, we will get in touch to determine an air date for your presentation. We will be using ZOOM to broadcast one presentation followed by a live Q&A, bi-weekly between March and May 2021.

Potential topics include:

· Experiences of racialized librarians

· Feminization/gendering of labour in libraries

· White supremacy, heteronormative patriarchy, and ableism in LIS

· Feminism and Intersectionality in LIS

· Emotional and affective labour in LIS

· Gender identity/sexuality and libraries

· Professional and Paraprofessional relationships and tensions

· Resistance in library services and work

Looking forward to a lively and informative series.

Organizing Committee

Michelle Albrecht

Michelle De Agostini

Ratna Dhaliwal

Michelle Falk

Mary Greenshields

Michael McNally 

Belinda Ongaro

Deanna Taylor

Individuals interested in volunteering with Politics of Libraries are encouraged to contact us at politicsoflibraries@gmail.com.

Politics of Libraries

University of Alberta

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