All posts by Elle Covington

3rd Party Platforms and Data Privacy through an IDEA lens

by Daniel Arbino

A pandemic. Increased acts of hate. Police brutality. An assault on the capitol. 2020 and 2021 have tested the endurance and resilience of American society. Some of these developments are new, while others have been ongoing for decades. Among these attention-grabbing headlines is an internet-era movement to address privacy. 

All internet users have engaged with the new attention to privacy in some way. Most likely, every time a user enters a website for the first time, they will be asked to what extent they want their cookies tracked by the site and for what purposes. This explicit engagement provides the user with the opportunity for more control as to how their information is utilized and shared. Many take the time to minimize their cookies in an effort to reduce advertisements geared toward consumerism. But what about the platforms that don’t make usage of a visitor’s data transparent? This has been a divisive question among libraries for years.

In the library world, privacy is a core tenant included in the ALA Library Bill of Rights. Patrons can use this public service to anonymously navigate the infosphere from a station or check out books confidentially, “free from observation or unwanted surveillance by the government or others.” While libraries stand as  a beacon for privacy and confidentiality, third-party databases that libraries often purchase to further scholarly inquiry threaten this very principle.

Two of these that have been in the news recently  are Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw and Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis, or Nexis Uni. Both are databases that focus on public records and legal documents, vital to the work of any law student or lawyer, and utilized by students and patrons across the spectrum from undergraduates writing class papers to anyone keeping up with the latest news and opinions. Under the guise of providing necessary information for scholarly research, both sell personal information, such as license plate numbers, credit history, and other records (including location coordinates) to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Effectively, these companies that brand themselves as engaging with public services are in fact aiding in the arrest and deportation of many in exchange for millions of dollars. Moreover, because of the government agencies that they are working with, specific communities of color are typically being targeted. This effectively results in the Libraries that provide access to these databases in abetting the potential deportation or harassment of some of the libraries’ most vulnerable patrons.

By obtaining these personal records from Reuters and Elsevier, government agencies are able to sidestep legal processes and constitutional laws while gathering and analyzing data to facilitate their work. It raises questions of technology companies and their role in supplying the government with surveillance tools that unequivocally violate one’s privacy.

As librarians fight to uphold the privacy and confidentiality of our communities, let us begin by pressuring our vendors to be ethically responsible. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has begun to organize collaborative conversations around rethinking libraries’ relationships with these vendors and demanding contracts with tighter terms regarding patrons’ privacy. If you are interested in speaking out against these practices, a movement has taken place using the “#NoTechforICE” hashtag as well.

Further Reading 

A is for Accessibility: Celebrating Disability Pride Day!

Group of people posing with banner that says Diversability
Image from NYC’s Disability Pride Parade in 2017. Photo courtesy of Diversability.

By Mandy Ryan

Chances are, you or someone you know has or has had a disability at some point in their lives. Chances are, you know someone who has a disability that you don’t know about. This invisibility is one of the reasons the A in IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) can be tricky to tackle. With this in mind, we want to give a shout out to all of those honoring Disability Pride Day with us and give some background for those who may not know why we’re celebrating.

What is Disability Pride Day?

Disability Pride Day is a celebration of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26th, 1990. The ADA ushered in a new era for the disability community and implemented one of the first civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination against disabilities in the world. It also requires that employers, businesses, and public entities provide accessibility and reasonable accommodations to ensure that the disability community can have equal rights and opportunities as everyone else. Initially held in Boston, Disability Pride celebrations spread to Chicago and then to New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July as Disability Pride Month and announced the first annual NYC Disability Pride Parade. Today, Disability Pride is hosted in major cities across the US and has even become an internationally recognized celebration. Spearheaded by disabled influencers, Tiktok reported that the hashtag #DisabilityPride has reached over 236.6M views by the end of July

President H. W. Bush sits at a desk in the Rose Garden with two men using wheelchairs to sign the ADA

Photo of President George Bush signing into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 on the South Lawn of the White House. L to R, sitting: Evan Kemp, Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Justin Dart, Chairman, President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. L to R, standing: Rev. Harold Wilke and Swift Parrino, Chairperson, National Council on Disability, 07/26/1990. Photo courtesy of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA.

Why is Disability Pride important?

Disability Pride plays a key role in breaking down stereotypes and challenging what it means to have a  disability through visibility and awareness. It allows the disability community to gather together to celebrate their uniqueness and recognize that they are a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride. Additionally, this visibility plays an important part in challenging systemic ableism and generating momentum for advocacy. According to a 2018 report by the CDC, “one in 4 U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – have a disability that impacts major life events.” In the LIS profession, librarians with disabilities are estimated to make up 3.7% of United States librarianship. However, visibility for librarians with disabilities is still a major issue. There have been few studies that have examined librarians with disabilities and even fewer professional organizations in this field that have disability-related groups or programs. A recent survey of academic librarians with disabilities found that this lack of awareness and cultural stereotyping impacted their workplace experience, most commonly through a reluctance to disclose their disability or a reluctance to request accommodations at work. 

Flag with black background with blue, yellow, white, red, and green zigzagging lines
Image of a Disability Pride Flag, ”created to encompass all disabilities and was designed by Ann Magill member of the disability community. The black background represents the suffering of the disability community from violence and also serves as a color of rebellion and protest. The lightning bolt represents how individuals with disabilities must navigate barriers, and demonstrates their creativity in doing so. The five colors represent the variety of needs and experiences: Mental Illness, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Invisible and Undiagnosed Disabilities, Physical Disabilities, and Sensory Disabilities.” Caption credit to the American Foundation for the Blind

What can allies do?

Diversify the voices in your life by engaging with and supporting disability community members. 

Take time to educate yourself on ableism and where it exists.

  • It’s important to understand the systemic ableism that exists in our society so that we can recognize issues and advocate for safe and accessible spaces for all. Follow these local Austin organizations to learn more about what’s happening with disability rights in our city:

Learn more about the history of Disability Rights and Disabilities Studies.

Support campus initiatives that help our disability community.

Get involved with disability-related organizations in the LIS profession. 

  • Society of American Archivists Accessibility and Disability Section is working to create an inclusive space for archivists with disabilities and allies.
  • The book, Beyond Accommodation: Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Disabled Library Workers, by Jessica Schomberg and Wendy Highby, applies critical disability theory to the library profession and discusses practical ways to improve our workplace.
  • #CripLib is a hashtag used when discussing the intersection of disability and libraries, predominantly by library and archives workers with disabilities. It has expanded into a monthly chat hosted on Discord that features topics related to accessibility in the library profession. Follow the hashtag on Twitter or visit the website to get an invitation to the chat.
  • Support the newly launched Disability Archives Lab, directed by Gracen Brilmyer, Assistant Professor at the School of Information Studies at McGill University, which hosts “multi-disciplinary projects and research initiatives that center the politics of disability, how disabled people are affected by archival representation, and how to imagine archival futures that are centered around disabled desires.”

Terminology and language used in this post was researched and selected using the National Center for Disability and Journalism’s Disability Language Style Guide

Further Readings:


Diversifying UTL Collections

by Carolyn Cunningham

As the diversity and inclusion work done on UT campus continues to grow and gather steam, it has been helpful to have UT Libraries commitment to inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) as a guiding star for our work in the Scholarly Resources Division (SRD).

The liaison librarian team in SRD recently had the opportunity to talk with library colleagues about how IDEA informs our collection development work, and how we support others in their collection development work. Our team members are Carolyn Cunningham, David Flaxbart, Corinne Forstot-Burke, Bill Kopplin, Susan Macicak, Katy Parker, and Shiela Winchester. The team is committed to using an IDEA lens in all of our work, beyond special projects or short-term initiatives. This means that we approach every request for a book, every new product offer, and every decision about how to use collection funds with the frame of mind that we will strive to include diverse voices in our collection and orient ourselves toward finding and making available resources that include the many experiences and perspectives of our campus community and beyond. The team describes this work as a group effort, and we continuously learn from each other.

This embedded IDEA orientation is important because the academic publishing landscape does not necessarily represent all the voices that we want to include. The team recently looked at the results of the 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey together. This survey looked at diversity in the publishing industry, which included academic publishing participants. The respondents to this survey were 76% white, 97% cisgender, 81% heterosexual, and 89% non-disabled. For a quick point of comparison, 38.9% of UT students and 75.7% of UT professors are white. As the creators of the survey point out, “If the people who work in publishing are not a diverse group, how can diverse voices truly be represented in its books?”

Publishers are not the only influencers of what we add to our collections. User requests and emerging research areas are an important source of data for us. One exciting area of focus this past year has been strengthening our holdings related to the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights, and anti-racism topics. Bill Kopplin, social sciences librarian and coordinator, has compared our collections against peer libraries, kept an eye on campus reading clubs and resource lists, and worked directly with vendors to do a wide-ranging scan of publications in these areas to consider adding to our collection.

I can also point to the strong interdepartmental work of facilitating selection and discovery of important resources via catalog notes and subject headings. Folks from across UT Libraries work together to select and make available the U.S. Latinx LGBTQ Collection and Black Queer Studies Collection with local notes in our library catalog. This kind of focused attention is found throughout the work of our subject librarians, and our team is here to help get new efforts off the ground.

One programmatic aspect of collection building that our team works on closely is the major approval plans. These plans are arrangements with large vendors to automatically send us certain types of books published by essential publishers. We keep an eye on those plans to make sure they are bringing in the right material. By describing this process with words like “arrangements,” “large,” and “automatically,” I want to illustrate that it is easy for up-and-coming authors and small publishers to get left out. This is where the expertise of our knowledgeable subject librarians, as well as input from our users, comes in. While we aim to collect books that our researchers expect us to have from major publishers, we pay close attention to the requests we get from users through interlibrary loan, through our Suggest a Purchase form, and via our library colleagues. Those data tell us which things are missing from the collection. We also use these requests to update ourselves on new terminology, new classes being offered, and new and enduring research topics that are finding an audience on campus.

This work takes a village, and we will continue to learn from each other and respond to new opportunities to make our collections meet the needs of our current and future users.

Check out the following, which are just a few of the books brought in through this focus.

For more, check out the Building on Black Lives Matter post on TexLibris.

What does it mean to be an ally this Pride?

This Pride month, instead of writing about Queer history, like our 2019 posts on the Stonewall Riots and LGBTQIA+ History in the South, we want to focus on what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ ally in 2021. 

2021 has already been another tough year for the queer community, with more killings of Trans people so far this year than in the whole of 2019 and a record number of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislations. Reports also show that the pandemic hit LGBTQIA+ people harder than non-LGBTQIA+ people.

Now that June is here, we’ll see a lot of the same old rainbow-washing, performative allyship aimed more at looking like an ally than at actually doing the work of allyship. So, what does allyship actually mean? At its core, allyship is about recognizing, understanding, and using your power. Though we focus on allyship to queer and trans communities during Pride in this post, we recognize that intentional, material allyship is vital across all axes of oppression—after all, we know that by building collective power, we can make meaningful change. We’re including some tips and some resources below to help you become a better ally.

Definitions of Allyship

Allyship – The practice of self educating about heterosexism and cisgenderism, educating others, and actively supporting LGBTQA+ individuals and causes. Allyship is practiced by cisgender, trans, and genderqueer people as well as straight, and LGBTQA+ identified people who support and advocate with LGBTQA+ people across communities. While the term “ally” implies a complete identity, “allyship” is an ongoing process. – Definition from UT Austin’s Gender and Sexuality Center. Learn more terms in our Glossary.

“Ally is a verb!” – @chescaleigh (I also just generally highly recommend this video!)

“Anyone has the potential to be an ally. Allies recognize that though they’re not a member of the underinvested and oppressed communities they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, every single day. Because an ally might have more privilege and recognizes said privilege, they are powerful voices alongside oppressed ones.” – Amélie Lamont’s Guide to Allyship

“‘Alongside’ is a key word in allyship. A quote from Aboriginal elder, activist, and educator Dr. Lilla Watson sums it up: ‘If you have come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.’ Being an ally is about recognizing your privilege, then using it in solidarity with marginalized groups to challenge the status quo. It involves working through discomfort, listening, and learning from mistakes.” – Annalee Schafranek

How to be an ally right now

  • Examine your team dynamics, norms, expectations and policies to see where they may be privileging straight, cis life experiences.
  • Call your state elected officials and express opposition to anti-trans bills.
  • Donate to or volunteer at Out Youth, Austin Black Pride, or other local, grassroots organizations supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Ask your queer friends what barriers they may be experiencing to prevent them from truly enjoying Pride to the fullest this year, and then see what you can do to help them.
  • Don’t have queer friends? Think about why that might be and what you might be able to do to develop healthy relationships with people in the queer community.
  • Seek out queer creators. Learn from them and support their work.
  • Support queer-owned local businesses, and prioritize your Pride-related purchases from queer makers and entrepreneurs. 
  • Educate yourself, especially on the history of Pride, the Stonewall Riots, and the trans women of color who started them! We’ve got a lot of great resources listed below.

How NOT to be an ally right now

  • Ask your queer friends and co-workers to educate you about Pride or straight, cis privilege.
  • Dress in rainbows and make a big deal about how you’re going to celebrate Pride (aka, rainbow-washing, see above).
  • Think that Pride is just a big gay party without acknowledging its origin in collective uprising against police brutality.
  • Think that Pride is just a big gay party without an awareness that its founding mother was a black, trans woman.
  • Assume that just because I’m using Queer as an umbrella term in this post that all people who identify as LGBTQIA+ are comfortable with that term, which is steeped in oppression. It’s always best to ask rather than assume.

Learn more


Web Resources:



Other Opportunities

Related DAC Blog posts

Texas Lege joins the race to ban critical race theory in K-12 schools

By Roxanne Bogucka

What is critical race theory (CRT)? You’ve heard the expression, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature”? CRT operates on the basis that racism is alive and well in the United States, and that it’s not exclusively an interpersonal phenomenon, but something that’s baked into this country at a fundamental level, existing in financial, judicial, and educational systems, among others. Originating in the 1970s, CRT had mostly thrived in academic circles. The emergence of Black Lives Matter and other racial justice movements has led to proliferation of CRT-informed diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that are now commonplace in corporate, academic, and yes, school environments.

What’s happening in the Lege? Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) introduced HB 3979 in the Texas House, and Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) introduced SB 2202 in the Texas Senate. These bills basically state objections to critical race theory in curricula on the grounds that it would indoctrinate Texas schoolchildren with beliefs that one race or gender is superior to others. The bills also require that Texas teachers must bothsides any issues if they elect to cover current events in their classrooms. The bills have met nearly unanimous opposition from historians and education organizations.

HB 3979 has passed out of the Legislature and was sent to the Governor on June 1, 2021. It is nigh unto impossible not to speculate that the Texas Legislature, having successfully proscribed critical race theory in the public schools, will next apply its ingenuity to the curricula of public universities.

Alfredo Véa writes in his novel, The Silver Cloud Café, “You must seek out remembrance, for ours is a land of amnesiacs who pretend that there is no past; that America is a multi-cultural land when, in truth, it is an anticultural place that has ever been blessed with persistent and enduring cultures that have survived never-ending efforts to drag them out of sight; push them out of mind; to imprison them in the past.”

Below you will find links to news, opinion, and further readings on critical race theory.




Trans Day of Visibility 2021

Since 2010, March 31 has been marked as Transgender Day of Visibility. Historically, this day is meant to be a celebration of trans and non-binary lives, unlike the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which dates back to 1999 and is observed annually on November 20 to memorialize lives taken by violence against trans people.

Trans Day of Visibility arrives this year with a couple notable moves forward, but significant–and glaring–steps backward for trans rights embitter a day meant for trans celebration.

President Biden this year became the first U.S. president to issue a proclamation to formally recognize Trans Day of Visibility in the United States. The Biden administration has also overturned the Trump administration’s ban on trans people serving in the military, and named Dr. Rachel Levine as the first openly transgender person to hold federal office.

While these are victories to be sure, it’s difficult celebrate these small moves toward trans visibility while 2021 has already set a record for anti-trans legislation. Trans Day of Visibility is especially fraught today by the passage of HB 1507 in Arkansas, which yesterday further trampled the civil rights of arguably the most vulnerable people in the state, trans youth.

Texas is not far behind with Senate Bill 1311 aimed at prohibiting trans youth from receiving essential health care related to their gender identities.

While Trans Visibility is important every year, it feels especially critical this year. The onslaught of anti-trans legislations from so many states, and the murders of 12 trans people already reported, this year demands not just the recognition of trans lives, but their protection. It is more critical than ever for allies to act.

We ask that you join us both today and moving forward as we work to increase trans visibility and protect trans rights and lives.

What you can do

Stay informed

  • Follow the Twitter #TransRightsAreHumanRights
  • Know what legislation is being considered in your state
  • Find out which of your local and federal officials support anti-trans legislation and contact their offices to voice your disapproval
  • Be aware of how others (including family, friends, coworkers, and news sources) speak about the trans community and speak up when you hear or read someone perpetuate harmful rhetoric (including misgendering)  about trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people

Educate yourself and those around you

Subverting Library Practice through Groundbreaking Collections

By Daniel Arbino & Gina Bastone

Rarely do we take on projects that exist within a vacuum. On the contrary, we build on the work of those before us. If we are lucky, that work contributes to something vaguely described as “the greater good,” and in some cases, that work can even subvert the status quo. The UT Libraries’ Black Queer Studies Collection and the Latinx LGBTQ Collection are quite subversive. We don’t use that term lightly – these collections disrupt standard library practice while also bringing marginalized works to the forefront. 

By standard library practice, we refer to cataloging practices that employ standardized vocabulary created by the Library of Congress, such as subject headings. However, this vocabulary often includes problematic, outdated, and offensive language regarding books and films about LGBTQ+ experiences. When describing books about intersectional identity, especially those centered on queer and trans BIPOC people, the problematic subject headings take agency away from the authors and communities they represent by imposing rigid naming and classification. This entrenched system reflects the white supremacist, homophobic, and transphobic structures that dominate American institutions. Yes, this includes libraries. 

Eleven years ago, a group of UT librarians, faculty, and graduate students came together to create the Black Queer Studies Collection as a response to these problematic subject headings in the library catalog. Led by Kristen Hogan in collaboration with professor Matt Richardson and librarian Lindsey Schell, the project sought to make the intersectionality between sexuality, gender, and Blackness more discoverable in the library catalog. (Read more about its origins in this great article by Kristen in the journal Progress Librarian.) To get around the issue of problematic subject headings, they came up with the simple, but elegant solution to use a “local note” in the library catalog record to digitally unite the books, films, and other materials in the collection. 

Following the success of the Black Queer Studies Collection, UT Libraries introduced the Latinx LGBTQ Collection in 2017 to consider the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, and U.S. Latinx identity. The Latinx LGBTQ Collection follows the trajectory of its predecessor and features the same functionality with the use of the local catalog note. Together, the collections are collective intended to enable making hidden voices easier to find for patrons. Both continue to be updated on a regular basis to reflect UT Libraries’ commitment to collecting diverse subject matter. 

Below, we’ve highlighted some books that intersect both collections. We invite you to explore – check out a book, download an ebook, or watch a streaming film! You can find these collections in their entirety by performing an advanced search in the UT library catalog using the search terms “Latinx LGBTQ” or “Black Queer Studies Collection” (in quotation marks).  

Is there a book or film that we’re missing? Let us know by using the Libraries’ purchase request form, and adding in the notes that it’s for the Black Queer Studies Collection and/or the Latinx LGBTQ Collection. In the meantime, check out the following books that intersect both collections! 

Image of Book Cover for Virgins, Guerillas, and Locas


Cortez, Jaime. Virgins, Guerrillas & Locas: Gay Latinos Writing on Love. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1999. Read the ebook! (in HathiTrust)

Image of book cover for Legendary Inside the House Ballroom Scene


Gaskin, Gerard H., Deborah Willis, and Frank Roberts. Legendary : Inside the House Ballroom Scene / Photographs by Gerard H. Gaskin Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press in association with the Center for Documentary Studies, 2013. Check out the print book!

Image of book cover for Blacktino Queer Performance


Johnson, Rivera-Servera. Blacktino Queer Performance. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2016. Read the ebook!

Image of book cover for Disidentifications


Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications : Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics / José Esteban Muñoz. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Read the ebook! (in HathiTrust)

Image of book cover for Nepantla


Soto, Christopher. Nepantla : an Anthology for Queer Poets of Color / Edited by Christopher Soto. New York: Nightboat Books, 2019. Check out the print book!

Image of book cover for Christ-like


Xavier, Emanuel. Christ-like. New York: Painted Leaf Press, 1999. Read the ebook! (in HathiTrust)



Reading Recommendations: International Women’s Day

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. This day was set aside by the United Nations in 1977, but the honoring of this day stretches back to 1911 with origins in the socialist working women’s movement (Johnman, Sim & Mackie, 2016) . Learn more about the importance of this day from the resources below.

Gender Inequity in the COVID era

Gender inequity has been made especially clear throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  UN Women has declared the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day to be “Women in leadership: Achieving and equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The intention of this theme is to not only highlight the disparate impact that this pandemic is having on women globally, but also to celebrate the women at the forefront of the fight to end it.

Academic Sources

News & Popular Sources


Women’s Own Words

United Nations International Women’s Day Virtual Event

The JMLA Experience and Anti-Black Practices in Library Publishing

by Mandy Ryan

As library professionals, we often feel that we are working diligently to include and amplify the voices of our BIPOC colleagues. Many major libraries, such as UT and Emory, have incorporated DEI efforts in their hiring practices and Yale Libraries recently posted a position for a Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Organizational Excellence. Publications in the library profession, such as Theological Librarianship and the Journal of the Medical Library Association, made calls for submissions by diverse voices. However, librarians of color often bear the greatest burden in these calls for diversity, which can come with an expectation that they will be the ones to do the work of changing institutionalized practices and management styles built by white supremacy. The lack of effort to examine current processes and prepare staff on how to navigate works addressing diversity, equity and inclusion was most recently highlighted by the editorial decisions at the Journal of the Medical Library Association.

In May of 2020, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police garnered national attention, generating renewed focus to the Black Lives Matter movement and increased public support for their efforts. On June 1, 2020, the African American Medical Librarians Alliance (AAMLA) Caucus of the Medical Library Association (MLA) released a statement stating that they were “tired of not being seen, heard, included, or appreciated for the value that our unique voices, experiences, and perspectives bring to the narrative” and a commitment to “using our collective voices in bringing about change in the profession and the association.”

In response, the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) also released a statement of support to both the AAMLA Caucus and Black Lives Matter, stating that they could and will “do more to amplify the voices, experiences, and perspectives of individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).” Part of their statement was a call for manuscript submissions that addressed social injustices, diverse voices, and critical perspectives on health sciences librarianship. They also specifically asked for the contribution of any BIPOC-authored manuscripts, so long as they fell within the scope of the journal.

Five prominent Black librarians, Peace Ossom-Williamson, Jamia Williams, Xan Goodman, Christian I.J. Minter, and Ayaba Logan, submitted a proposed editorial on anti-Blackness in libraries. The editorial was accepted and scheduled for publication in January 2021. What happened next became an example of how calls for inclusion can lead to exclusionary and microaggressive practices in editing and publishing. On December 11th, 2020, Christian Minter tweeted about their decision to pull the editorial from publication, with an appropriately titled blog post, “A Case Study in Anti-Black Publishing Practices.”

Tweet by Christian Minter dated December 11, 2020 at 4?32 PM

In the blog, Minter describes how the editing process took a turn when they received a print-ready proof that had significant changes that had not been previously addressed with the authors. Some of the more significant changes she detailed included the decision to capitalize all instances of “white” and “white supremacy,” adding modifiers to “white supremacy” and changing instances to include “white supremacist thinking” or “white supremacist structures,” and changing multiple pronouns from “you” or “they” to “we” and “us.” Originally, the authors had intentionally only capitalized “Black” throughout the piece, but the editor argued that the MLA was in the process of changing their guidelines and that eventually the piece would capitalize “white.” When adding modifiers to “white supremacy,” the editor offered feedback that there was an issue with the literal reading of the original phrase. The editor offered no explanation on why they had changed the pronouns.

The authors attempted to explain to the editor why they had purposely and intentionally made the choices they did for the piece. According to Minter the editor responded by doubling down on her statements and providing a conditional apology if “wording and meaning has been changed that much” and that in her editing for typos, grammar, and clarity, “sometimes it appears the meaning can change.” During the course of the conversation, the editor-in-chief was cc’d on the email exchange, as was an associate editor, but both decided not to intervene.

Minter’s tweet and blog post were immediately followed by a tweet from Peace Ossom-Williamson and a blog post from Jamia Williams, “When Publishing Goes Wrong,” on December 12th. Both authors supported Minter’s account and stated that they stood strong on their decision to withdraw the piece from publication.

The author’s accounts about the events with JMLA began to trend on Twitter, with a call for JMLA to support Black colleagues quickly circulating under hashtags #medlibs, #librarytwitter, and #POCinLIS. Following the backlash, JMLA issued an apology on December 16th, written by editor-in-chief Katherine Akers. In the statement she recognized that she had been cc’d on the emails, but had assumed “that the two parties would come to resolution on their own or that I would be directly contacted by one of the parties if my intervention was needed or desired.” She also acknowledged that the journal was not prepared to edit or publish pieces on diversity, equity, or inclusion and made a promise to make JMLA “a more diverse and inclusive journal with more equitable opportunities for BIPOC authors, reviewers, and editorial board members.”

Tweet by Peace Ossom-Williamson dated December 12, 2020

The original article written by the five authors, “Starting with I: Combating Anti-Blackness in Libraries,” was successfully published by the University of Nebraska Medical Center under the Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library in December of 2020.

The withdrawal and the subsequent apology from JMLA sparked deep conversations about how these calls for diversity and inclusion are often made without the systemic support and structuring needed to actually support BIPOC voices. As part of the discussion, Jasmine L. Clark, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Temple University, wrote a thought-provoking piece, “On JMLA, Conflict, and Failed Diversity Efforts in LIS,” which details organizational justice and cultural competence as they relate to the article and the breakdown of the editing process by JMLA.

There were many points in which the editor-in-chief or the associate editor could have engaged with the authors and ensured that their intentions and voices were protected. The decision to not engage can be representative of a larger, systemic problem of neutrality in libraries where we avoid conflict and confrontation in the workplace, often leading to the harm of our colleagues.

In their responses, all of the authors and Clark found that there was a lack of ownership by Akers of her responsibility to initiate mediation before the situation had reached the point of withdrawing the piece. They point to her role as editor-in-chief and the accompanying responsibility to create an equitable environment that would identify and address challenges that BIPOC might encounter when writing about social justice.

Tweet Thread by Jasmine Lelis Clark dated December 17, 2020

Moving forward, Clark recommends that within the LIS profession “a blend of ongoing DEIA education, organizational/personal assessment, and practiced social skills are required.” She states that concepts of organizational justice and assessment of power structures are often reserved for those in leadership positions, instead of being open to all levels of LIS professionals. She points out that the development of social skills is centered on public service and patrons, instead of how to engage with the colleagues we work with every day.

The events with JMLA are an opportunity to evaluate our own practices and to better equip ourselves in conflict mediation and organizational justice. As a white woman in a field where only 5.3 percent of librarians identified as Black or African American, I hold myself accountable and ask that my fellow white colleagues join me in enacting changes that will allow for diversity and equity, instead of just calling for it and placing that labor on those who respond. Below are some resources and articles that delve into the experience of Black librarians, microaggression in our field, and how we can do better, but I would like to personally recommend reading the original article of the authors in this post as it provides a detailed overview of the history of anti-Blackness in libraries and concrete steps for how to move forward.

Resource Highlights




  • LibVoices – podcast co-created and co-hosted by Jamia Williams which amplifies the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who work in archives and libraries.

Professional Development and Trainings

  • We Here – “We Here™️ seeks to provide a safe and supportive community for Black and Indigenous folks, and People of Color (BIPOC) in library and information science (LIS) professions and educational programs, and to recognize, discuss, and intervene in systemic social issues that have plagued these professions both currently and historically.”
  • Active Bystander Orientation – “Have you ever witnessed bullying, harassment, or an uncomfortable encounter in a professional context and wished you knew how to intervene? The 2019 DLF Committee on Equity and Inclusion recently put together an Active Bystander Orientation session to help address these questions”
  • Conflict Mediation Guidelines – Stanford’s conflict training for the following situations: when you have been asked to mediate a conflict between two people or two groups or when a conflict breaks out between different sub-groups in a discussion.

What is Indigenous Peoples Day and Why does it matter?

Depending on what calendar you’re using and what city you are living in, you may or may not see today marked as Indigenous Peoples Day. A few years ago, Austin City Council voted to honor Native and Indigenous People by replacing Columbus Day at City Hall with Indigenous People’s Day, a move that follows the example of changes made by 14 states and over 130 cities across the country dating back to the 1970s.

Likewise, land acknowledgments are becoming more common to promote inclusion in our work and spaces. Here is the ARL Land Acknowledgement that Dr. Haricombe used as the basis for the Land Acknowledgement at the beginning of last week’s All Staff Meeting.

For this blog post, we would like to acknowledge and honor the Carrizo & Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Caddo, Tonkawa, Comanche, Lipan Apache, Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoo, Tigua Pueblo, and all the American Indian and Indigenous Peoples and communities who have been or have become a part of the lands and territories in Texas.

This day and what it means for all Americans deserves and requires much more space and consideration than I (unfortunately) am able to give it in this blog post. So I encourage everyone to take some time today to use the resources below as a launching point for your own search into learning more about how to honor indigenous people and acknowledge the violent colonial history that continues to negatively impact Native American and Indigenous people.

Resource Highlights

Tribal Land Map – learn about the indigenous peoples of the land on which you live and work

Five Ideas for Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Eason, A., Pope, T., Becenti, K., & Fryberg, S. (2020). Sanitizing history: National identification, negative stereotypes, and support for eliminating Columbus Day and adopting Indigenous Peoples DayCultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology.

10 Ways to be a Genuine Ally to Indigenous Communities, Amnesty International

Consider supporting an Indigenous organization, like the local nonprofit Indigenous Cultures Institute.

Image of Indigenous Cultures Institute video
You can view this great video from Indigenous Cultures Institute

See other reading recommendations from last year’s Native American Heritage Month post by Andres Ramirez.

Let us know what you’re reading and learning in the comments!