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Demystifying Diversity for
Librarians
Allan Cho
for the BC Courthouse Libraries
September 28, 2021
Practicing Anti-Racism
in Information Spaces:
“Notes from the Field”
October 26, 2022
Allan Cho - allan.cho@ubc.ca
Land Acknowledgement
I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which I
am on is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples,
including the territories of the xwməθkwəy
̓ əm (Musqueam),
Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh
(Tsleil- Waututh) Nations.
Agenda:
● Explore the concept of diversity and intersectionality of
identities
● Examining how power and privilege shaped libraries
● Examining how microaggressions/subtle acts of exclusion
affect library workers
● To examine the current research in LIS about these topics
My Story
Librarian since 2008
Chair of Visible Minority Librarians
Network of Canada (ViMLoC)
Research in Critical Race Theory
(CRT) in libraries
Visible Minority Librarians Network of Canada
● Mentorship program
● National survey of Canadian librarians
on diversity
● Research, workshops and panel
discussions
Theme 1
Landscape of Libraries
In Canada, there are 9,600 librarians
● 89% are white (Statistics Canada, 2016)
● Library workers of visible
minority/racialized backgrounds account
for about 12% of the library workforce
(CUPE, 2020)
● Librarians in Canada survey
162 self-identity as visible
minority/racialized (ViMLoC, 2021)
Image: Greg Rosenke
Vocational Awe
False notion that libraries are
inherently good, sacred notions,
and therefore beyond critique
Libraries are not neutral
“Driven by mission rather than
practicalities” (Fobazi Ettarh, 2018)
Image: Association for Library
Service to Children (ALSC)
Diversity
Diversity is not just about race
At the same time, diversity
has become a new “buzzword”
for everything, including race
Image: TIm Mossholder
Intersectionality
Image: Womankind
Worldwide
Intersectionalities
Image: Syracuse University
Thought Exercise
What is your Social Identity Wheel? (2
minutes)
*This is not an easy task! Since identity can
also be hidden, it can be difficult to
recognize them not only of yourself, but
others
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w7yo6ljyS0p
nvEO-BOrE7Aohmaa9n5Jf/view
Theme 2
Microaggressions
Some argue, this is the "the new face of
racism" and discrimination
The nature of racism has shifted over time from
overt expressions of racial hatred and hate
crimes, toward expressions of aversive racism,
that are more subtle, ambiguous, and often
unintentional
Jana & Baran suggests reframing the term to
Subtle Acts of Exclusion (SAE)
Image: Higher Education
Microaggression or Subtle Acts of Exclusion?
Doesn’t have to be aggressive, can just be an
absence of affirmations that privileged people
would experience.
● Facial expressions
● Tone of voice
● Body language
● Eye contact (looking at some but not
others)
● Choice of behaviours (on the phone when
someone is talking)
Image: Mark Spiske
National Research Survey in 2021
Microaggressions - Themes
Theme Act Message
Alien in own land “Where are you really
from?”
You aren’t really one of us.
(Canadian enough)
Normalization of identity Mistreating someone’s
name
Western sounding names
are legitimate while others
are not.
Denial of individual racism “My best friend is black” I’m immune because I have
friends of color.
Colour blindness “When I look at you, I don’t
see colour”
Denies a person of colour’s
racial/ethnic experiences
Long-term Impact for Individuals
Depression and trauma
Suicide ideation
Trust
Medication adherence
Paolo Chaaya
Long-term Impact for Organizations
● Recruitment
● Making hiring decisions
● Training opportunities
● Who gets permission to talk
and listened to
● Promotional choices
● Organizational policies
● Job assignments Credit: Kelly Sikkema
Racial Pay Gap
Yanli Li’s “Racial pay gap: an analysis of
CARL libraries”
● Visible minority librarians are
confronted with challenges in rising to
senior leadership positions due to lack
of access to network, lack of
mentorship, and lack of training
● Significant salary disparity between
visible and nonvisible minorities in
Canadian academic libraries
Image: Shutterstock
Theme 3
Power, Privilege, and History
Power, Privilege, and History
Colonialism in Canada & British
Columbia
White supremacy and historical
legacy
Public libraries as nation-building
project in Canada
Strategies for “Actionable Diversity”
● Mentorship for self-identified BIPOC library
staff
● Succession Planning - Create a staffing plan
that projects future vacancies, and identify and
train diverse individuals to assume those
positions
● Naming the problem: anti-racism in diversity
statements in library’s mission and values
For your reading
● Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How
to Understand, Identify, and
Stop Microaggressions
○ Dr. Tiffany Jana &
○ Dr. Michael Baran
For your reading
● Knowledge Justice: Disrupting
Library and Information
Studies through Critical Race
Theory
○ Sofia Y. Leung
○ Jorge R. Lopez-McKnight
For your reading
● LIS Interrupted: Intersections
of Mental Illness and Library
Work
○ Miranda Dube
○ Carrie Wade
For your reading
● Topographies of Whiteness:
Mapping Whiteness in Library
and Information Science
○ Editor: Gina
Schlesselman-Tarango
References
Alabi, Jaena. "Racial microaggressions in academic libraries: Results of a survey
of minority and non-minority librarians." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 41,
no. 1 (2015): 47-53.
Alabi, J. (2015). “This Actually Happened”: An Analysis of Librarians’ Responses to
a Survey about Racial Microaggressions. Journal of Library Administration, 55(3),
179–191.
Ettarh, Fobazi. "Vocational awe and librarianship: The lies we tell ourselves." the
Library with the Lead Pipe 10 (2018).
Kumaran, Mahalakshmi, and Heather Cai. "Identifying the visible minority librarians
in Canada: A national survey." (2015).
References
Leung, Sofia Y., and Jorge R. López-McKnight, eds. Knowledge justice: Disrupting
library and information studies through critical race theory. MIT Press, 2021.
Oud, Joanne. "Systemic Workplace Barriers for Academic Librarians with
Disabilities." College & Research Libraries, 80.2 (2019): 169. Web. 9 Sep. 2021
Walker, Shaundra. "A Revisionist History of Andrew Carnegie’s Library Grants to
Black Colleges." (2017).
Li, Yanli, Maha Kumaran, Allan Cho, Valentina Ly, Suzanne Fernando, and Michael
David Miller. "Racism in Academic Libraries: Preliminary Findings From the 2021
ViMLoC Redux Survey.” Canadian Academic Professional Association of
Librarians Conference 2021.
References
Li, Yanli; Kumaran, Maha; Cho, Allan; Ly, Valentina; Fernando, Suzanne; Miller,
Michael David, 2021, "2021 Redux Survey of Visible Minority Librarians of
Canada", https://doi.org/10.5683/SP3/F4LNZO, Borealis, V1
Nataraj, Lalitha, Holly Hampton, Talitha R. Matlin, and Yvonne Nalani Meulemans.
"“Nice White Meetings”: Unpacking Absurd Library Bureaucracy through a Critical
Race Theory Lens." Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship 6 (2020): 1-15.
References
Tewell, Eamon, Cynthia Tobar, Harvey Long, James Castrillo, and Fobazi Ettarh.
"WHAT’S IN A NAME? What Named Spaces Tell Us About Academic Libraries."
(2021). ACRL 20th National Conference, "Ascending into an Open Future"
Virtual, April 13–16, 2021. https://alair.ala.org/handle/11213/17165
Winn, Dee. "Why Are You Brown? Racial Microaggressions in Canadian Academic
Libraries." In Dismantling Constructs of Whiteness in Higher Education, pp. 79-89.
Routledge, 2022.
Thank you!
Allan Cho

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Practicing Anti-Racism in Information Spaces: Notes From the Field

  • 1. Demystifying Diversity for Librarians Allan Cho for the BC Courthouse Libraries September 28, 2021 Practicing Anti-Racism in Information Spaces: “Notes from the Field” October 26, 2022 Allan Cho - allan.cho@ubc.ca
  • 2. Land Acknowledgement I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which I am on is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy ̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations.
  • 3. Agenda: ● Explore the concept of diversity and intersectionality of identities ● Examining how power and privilege shaped libraries ● Examining how microaggressions/subtle acts of exclusion affect library workers ● To examine the current research in LIS about these topics
  • 4. My Story Librarian since 2008 Chair of Visible Minority Librarians Network of Canada (ViMLoC) Research in Critical Race Theory (CRT) in libraries
  • 5. Visible Minority Librarians Network of Canada ● Mentorship program ● National survey of Canadian librarians on diversity ● Research, workshops and panel discussions
  • 7. Landscape of Libraries In Canada, there are 9,600 librarians ● 89% are white (Statistics Canada, 2016) ● Library workers of visible minority/racialized backgrounds account for about 12% of the library workforce (CUPE, 2020) ● Librarians in Canada survey 162 self-identity as visible minority/racialized (ViMLoC, 2021) Image: Greg Rosenke
  • 8. Vocational Awe False notion that libraries are inherently good, sacred notions, and therefore beyond critique Libraries are not neutral “Driven by mission rather than practicalities” (Fobazi Ettarh, 2018) Image: Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
  • 9. Diversity Diversity is not just about race At the same time, diversity has become a new “buzzword” for everything, including race Image: TIm Mossholder
  • 12. Thought Exercise What is your Social Identity Wheel? (2 minutes) *This is not an easy task! Since identity can also be hidden, it can be difficult to recognize them not only of yourself, but others https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w7yo6ljyS0p nvEO-BOrE7Aohmaa9n5Jf/view
  • 14. Microaggressions Some argue, this is the "the new face of racism" and discrimination The nature of racism has shifted over time from overt expressions of racial hatred and hate crimes, toward expressions of aversive racism, that are more subtle, ambiguous, and often unintentional Jana & Baran suggests reframing the term to Subtle Acts of Exclusion (SAE) Image: Higher Education
  • 15. Microaggression or Subtle Acts of Exclusion? Doesn’t have to be aggressive, can just be an absence of affirmations that privileged people would experience. ● Facial expressions ● Tone of voice ● Body language ● Eye contact (looking at some but not others) ● Choice of behaviours (on the phone when someone is talking) Image: Mark Spiske
  • 17. Microaggressions - Themes Theme Act Message Alien in own land “Where are you really from?” You aren’t really one of us. (Canadian enough) Normalization of identity Mistreating someone’s name Western sounding names are legitimate while others are not. Denial of individual racism “My best friend is black” I’m immune because I have friends of color. Colour blindness “When I look at you, I don’t see colour” Denies a person of colour’s racial/ethnic experiences
  • 18. Long-term Impact for Individuals Depression and trauma Suicide ideation Trust Medication adherence Paolo Chaaya
  • 19. Long-term Impact for Organizations ● Recruitment ● Making hiring decisions ● Training opportunities ● Who gets permission to talk and listened to ● Promotional choices ● Organizational policies ● Job assignments Credit: Kelly Sikkema
  • 20. Racial Pay Gap Yanli Li’s “Racial pay gap: an analysis of CARL libraries” ● Visible minority librarians are confronted with challenges in rising to senior leadership positions due to lack of access to network, lack of mentorship, and lack of training ● Significant salary disparity between visible and nonvisible minorities in Canadian academic libraries Image: Shutterstock
  • 23. Power, Privilege, and History Colonialism in Canada & British Columbia White supremacy and historical legacy Public libraries as nation-building project in Canada
  • 24. Strategies for “Actionable Diversity” ● Mentorship for self-identified BIPOC library staff ● Succession Planning - Create a staffing plan that projects future vacancies, and identify and train diverse individuals to assume those positions ● Naming the problem: anti-racism in diversity statements in library’s mission and values
  • 25. For your reading ● Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions ○ Dr. Tiffany Jana & ○ Dr. Michael Baran
  • 26. For your reading ● Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies through Critical Race Theory ○ Sofia Y. Leung ○ Jorge R. Lopez-McKnight
  • 27. For your reading ● LIS Interrupted: Intersections of Mental Illness and Library Work ○ Miranda Dube ○ Carrie Wade
  • 28. For your reading ● Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science ○ Editor: Gina Schlesselman-Tarango
  • 29. References Alabi, Jaena. "Racial microaggressions in academic libraries: Results of a survey of minority and non-minority librarians." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 41, no. 1 (2015): 47-53. Alabi, J. (2015). “This Actually Happened”: An Analysis of Librarians’ Responses to a Survey about Racial Microaggressions. Journal of Library Administration, 55(3), 179–191. Ettarh, Fobazi. "Vocational awe and librarianship: The lies we tell ourselves." the Library with the Lead Pipe 10 (2018). Kumaran, Mahalakshmi, and Heather Cai. "Identifying the visible minority librarians in Canada: A national survey." (2015).
  • 30. References Leung, Sofia Y., and Jorge R. López-McKnight, eds. Knowledge justice: Disrupting library and information studies through critical race theory. MIT Press, 2021. Oud, Joanne. "Systemic Workplace Barriers for Academic Librarians with Disabilities." College & Research Libraries, 80.2 (2019): 169. Web. 9 Sep. 2021 Walker, Shaundra. "A Revisionist History of Andrew Carnegie’s Library Grants to Black Colleges." (2017). Li, Yanli, Maha Kumaran, Allan Cho, Valentina Ly, Suzanne Fernando, and Michael David Miller. "Racism in Academic Libraries: Preliminary Findings From the 2021 ViMLoC Redux Survey.” Canadian Academic Professional Association of Librarians Conference 2021.
  • 31. References Li, Yanli; Kumaran, Maha; Cho, Allan; Ly, Valentina; Fernando, Suzanne; Miller, Michael David, 2021, "2021 Redux Survey of Visible Minority Librarians of Canada", https://doi.org/10.5683/SP3/F4LNZO, Borealis, V1 Nataraj, Lalitha, Holly Hampton, Talitha R. Matlin, and Yvonne Nalani Meulemans. "“Nice White Meetings”: Unpacking Absurd Library Bureaucracy through a Critical Race Theory Lens." Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship 6 (2020): 1-15.
  • 32. References Tewell, Eamon, Cynthia Tobar, Harvey Long, James Castrillo, and Fobazi Ettarh. "WHAT’S IN A NAME? What Named Spaces Tell Us About Academic Libraries." (2021). ACRL 20th National Conference, "Ascending into an Open Future" Virtual, April 13–16, 2021. https://alair.ala.org/handle/11213/17165 Winn, Dee. "Why Are You Brown? Racial Microaggressions in Canadian Academic Libraries." In Dismantling Constructs of Whiteness in Higher Education, pp. 79-89. Routledge, 2022.