I was unable to attend the 2022 SRRT Afternoon of Social Justice live when it aired on August 3. However, I was able to view the recordings after their release. I encourage you to watch the presentations yourself, but here’s a little of what to expect from the sessions.
Paying Better Attention to Indigenous Communities
First, Karleen Delaurier-Lyle at Xwi7xwa Library reminded us that Indigenous knowledge is relational rather than compartmentalized and isn’t always best served by library classification systems. She used the example of Indigenous languages, which are classified under X in the modified version of the Brian Deer Classification System the library uses. Many other resources in the library have valuable information on language, but they’re not housed in that section of the stacks. She described an activity she does with students that reveals these materials scattered throughout the library and emphasizes how important it is to look beyond standard classification.
Next, Kael Moffat defined settler colonialism using Patrick Wolfe’s emphasis on the logic of elimination, which strives to erase Indigenous people via destruction or assimilation. Moffat then outlined settlers’ responsibilities in combatting this system. While Indigenous people decolonize, settlers are responsible for desettling. Some elements of desettling: learning the stories of Indigenous communities local to your area, listening to them, amplifying their voices, and acting in support. He also shared a longer list of desettling questions libraries can ask themselves and steps they can take to move forward in this work.
Neurodiversity in the Library
Rachel Bussan and Kate Thompson from West Des Moines Public Library both presented on neurodiversity, with an emphasis on autism, with Bussan drawing from personal and Thompson drawing from familial experience. Bussan was diagnosed with autism and bipolar disorder at 26, while Thompson was inspired to go into librarianship after her son struggled at a storytime not designed for his needs.
Both offered a wealth of tips on how to communicate with neurodivergent people, how to run accessible job interviews, and how to support neurodivergent employees once they have been hired. For example, during conversations, it’s a good idea to minimize distractions and other stimuli. A point they returned to was that everyone’s needs are different, and these guidelines should be adjusted for each person. A key takeaway: hire neurodivergent people in your libraries. They’ll know what they need better than you can.
Thompson also touched on some broader disability topics, such as the curb cut effect making accommodations beneficial to everyone, and the medical versus social models of disability and how those can change how we view the world. Both presenters ended with a wealth of resources, including, of course, book recommendations.
This is just a taste of the presentations – if anything sounds interesting, be sure to watch for yourself!