Category Archives: Resources for Staff

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

Workshops

Web Resources:

Podcasts

Books

Other Opportunities

Related DAC Blog posts

Why Stacey Abrams Keeps Georgia on my Mind

By Mandy Ryan

On June 9th, 2020, I stood in a long line waiting to vote in the 2020 presidential primary election  in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. My polling place was located in the heart of Sweet Auburn, a historically black neighborhood that is home to the famous Ebenezer Church, The King Center, and the final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. The line was so long that I couldn’t even see the building I was going to be voting in. More people were pouring in because their polling locations had closed overnight and they were told to come here at the last minute. The polling volunteer staff were short-handed and it wasn’t until after waiting two hours that many realized they weren’t standing in the right line for their temporary polling place. After three hours of waiting and three broken machines, I was finally able to cast my vote.

Five months later many would repeat this same struggle. Despite this, due to intense work by grassroots organizers, Black voter turnout increased by 25%, Latinx voter turnout by 18%, and Asian voter turnout by 12%. The increased voter turnout and mobilization of voters was due to the history of intense work by grassroots organizers, including an emerging breakout political leader, Stacey Abrams.

Who is Stacey Abrams?

Stacey Abrams has become a trailblazer as a political leader and had a huge impact on voter engagement, especially in underserved and diverse communities. Born in Wisconsin, she moved to Georgia in 1989 with her parents. Abrams earned a B.A. from Spelman College, before becoming a Texas Longhorn. She graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT with her Masters in Public Affairs in 1998 and went on to receive her JD from Yale Law School. She would later receive the LBJ School’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2019.

Abrams returned to Georgia where she held various local political appointments, including Deputy City Attorney for the city of Atlanta. She was elected a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives in 2006, representing the 89th district. She was the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and was the first African-American to lead in the House of Representatives. She remained a representative and was the minority leader for 11 years before relinquishing her seat to run for governor. In her spare time, Abrams is also an accomplished novelist under the pen name Selena Montgomery. 

The 2018 Georgia Governor’s Race

In 2018, Abrams became the first Black woman to be nominated by a major party as a candidate for Governor in her home state of Georgia. She won the democratic primary against Stacey Evans by a landslide 75% of the vote and celebrated her historic win with a moving speech, saying, “We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired.”

Running against her was the current Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. Kemp held the position of Secretary of State for 8 years in a state that had earned a reputation as being one of the strictest on voting laws in the country. In 2018, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights stated that “no state has done more than Georgia in recent years to make voting difficult, especially for minorities.”

Georgia policy dictated that the voter registration polls be routinely cleaned up to remove those who had died, moved away, or voters that hadn’t voted in the previous two elections. At the height of the election season, over 500,000 registered voters were removed from the list, with 107,000 due to inactivity.

Stacey Abrams lost the Governor race to Brian Kemp by 55,000 votes in a race that saw an all time record breaking voter turnout in Georgia. Over 4 million votes were counted, representing 74% of all registered voters, and broke the previous record of 3.9 million voters in 2008. The state also saw a record number of early-voting, with 2,418,550 Georgians casting their ballots in the 45 days leading up to the election.

In a speech ending her candidacy for governor, Stacey called out voting policies and restrictions in Georgia that made voting difficult and stated, “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede.”

She did acknowledge that Kemp would be the next governor of Georgia and the legitimacy of the election, but challenged the policies of disenfranchising voters and sought ways to improve election operations moving forward.

The Creation of Fair Fight

In her speech, Abrams introduced Fair Fight, an non-partisan initiative to fund and train voter protection teams in 20 battleground states. Fair Fight Action works to engage voter mobilizations and increase education on policies especially in underserved communities regardless of political affiliation. It also helps to combat and bring awareness to potential voter suppression in Georgia and across the nation. With Abrams’ work and support, Fair Fight and her previous organization, New Georgia Project went on to register over 800,000 new voters for the 2020 Presidential election.

Abrams’ part in engaging and mobilizing voters, increasing voter turnout in marginalized communities, and combating voter suppression in Georgia during the 2020 election season resulted in her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

What’s Happening Now

Less than 6 months following the 2020 November Presidential election, Georgia State Representatives passed SB202, or “The Election Integrity Act of 2021.” The new law makes a number of changes to the current voting structure in Georgia. It makes the pandemic-era absentee or mail-in ballots permanent, but it limits the number of people who can request mail-in ballots, expands identification requirements to receive a mail-in ballot, and decreases the time to request them by half. Additionally, mail-in or absentee ballot drop boxes will be limited to just early voting days and have been moved inside government buildings.

Outside of mail-in voting, the bill also gives state-level officials the authority to take control of county election boards that have had reported issues in voting for the previous two years. It includes language that would remove the Secretary of State as chair of the State Election Board, and places decision-making in the hands of the 5 board members. Furthermore, the bill criminalizes third-parties providing water or food to those waiting in voting lines. Civil rights groups are speaking out, calling the bill voter suppression and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

How It Affects Texas

While Georgia may be the first state to pass new voting laws, it’s probably not the last. In fact, over 41 states currently have bills on the docket that would change current voting procedure, including Texas. The Texas State Senate advanced Senate Bill 7, a bill similar to Georgia’s, imposing similar restrictions on mail-in ballots, limiting early voting periods, and prohibiting distribution of voter registration applications to those who don’t request them. The bill was widely debated in the house, with politicians adding amendments to address language that had advocates for Black, Latinx, and disabled voters concerned. The bill passed the house, but is still undergoing rewriting.

Reactions

Organizations such as ARL have signed a Statement on Voting Rights by Higher Education, stating a concern that new policies regarding student voter registration may make voting more difficult across college campuses. Texas organizations, such as AARP and the Texas League of Women Voters also raised concerns for the impact it would have on constituents.

What Can You Do?

In honor of fellow Longhorn Stacey Abrams, and in light of the current state bills, I encourage you to stay informed on new voting laws and how they may affect your current voting process.  Below are a list of resources to help you stay aware and keep you prepared so that your voting will go smoothly in the next election cycle. If you’d like to know more about Stacey Abrams, local Austin bookstore, Book People, will be hosting a virtual event with her this Saturday to discuss her new novel.

Voting Resources:

Organizations Dedicated to Voter Mobilization:

  • Move Texas: “MOVE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, grassroots organization building power in underrepresented youth communities through civic education, leadership development, and issue advocacy.”
  • Common Cause – Texas: “Common Cause Texas has an innovative, pragmatic, and comprehensive pro-democracy agenda. We’re here to build a better democracy in our Lone Star State.”
  • Jolt Initiative: “Jolt initiative is a 501c3 non-profit organization that increases the civic participation of Latinos to build a stronger democracy and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
  • Black Voters Matter: “Black Voters Matter goal is to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.”
  • Rev-up Texas: a non-partisan statewide effort to outreach and to empower persons with disabilities and our allies to get more involved in electoral politics.

Organizations Promoting Diverse Political Candidates

Books by Stacey Abrams

Arab American Heritage Month

by Andres Ramirez, Resources by Dale Correa

The celebration of April as Arab American Heritage Month is relatively recent, having previously been celebrated by some states at different times of the year.  Due to grassroots and independent advocacy from the Arab American community, the move to April has gained increasing support.  First introduced in April 2019, Michigan Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell have led a Congressional resolution to recognize the contributions Arab Americans have made in the United States through the month of April.  While gaining support, this bill is still pending, and the designation has not yet recognized across the entire federal government.  This April, the US State Department also designated April as Arab American Heritage Month, highlighting the contributions Arab Americans have made throughout the country and within the agency itself.

Arab heritage includes a vast spectrum of languages, religions, traditions and experiences, representing cultures thousands of years old, and principally originating from Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North African region, including Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. Immigration by people from Arabic-speaking countries to the United States began on a large scale in the late 19th century. Since then, several periods of immigration to the US have been marked by the dynamics in countries of origin, along with changes in US immigration policies.  I encourage you to explore the resources provided by Dale Correa below, highlighting the aspects of Arab American heritage, and the contributions made by Arab Americans.

SOURCES

Alsharif, Mirna “April is Arab American Heritage Month, the State Department declares”

CNN, April 5, 2021 https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/05/us/arab-american-heritage-month/index.html

Arab American Institute. https://www.aaiusa.org/

Arab American Museum.  “Coming to America”. Online exhibit. https://arabamericanmuseum.org/coming-to-america/

Arab American Staff. “Dingell, Tlaib introduce Arab American Heritage Month resolution in U.S. House” April 26, 2021 https://www.arabamericannews.com/2021/04/26/dingell-tlaib-introduce-arab-american-heritage-month-resolution-in-u-s-house/

U.S. State Department. “The Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Celebrates National Arab American Heritage Month”.  April 1, 2021

https://www.state.gov/the-bureau-of-european-and-eurasian-affairs-celebrates-arab-american-heritage-month/

Washingt0n Press Release, April 30, 2019

https://web.archive.org/web/20190804211819/https://debbiedingell.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1703

 

Arab-American Faces and Voices book cover
Arab-American Faces and Voices cover

Notable UT Press publications

The Making of Arab Americans: from Syrian nationalism to U.S. citizenship by Hani J. Bawardi.

While conventional wisdom points to the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 as the gateway for the founding of the first Arab American national political organization, such advocacy in fact began with the Syrian nationalist movement, which emerged from immigration trends at the turn of the last century. Bringing this long-neglected history to life, The Making of Arab Americans overturns the notion of an Arab population that was too diverse to share common goals.

Arab American Faces and Voices: The Origins of an Immigrant Community by Elizabeth Boosahda.

As Arab Americans seek to claim their communal identity and rightful place in American society at a time of heightened tension between the United States and the Middle East, an understanding look back at more than one hundred years of the Arab-American community is especially timely. In this book, Elizabeth Boosahda, a third-generation Arab American, draws on over two hundred personal interviews, as well as photographs and historical documents that are contemporaneous with the first generation of Arab Americans (Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians), both Christians and Muslims, who immigrated to the Americas between 1880 and 1915, and their descendants.

 

Telling our Story book cover
Telling our Story book cover

Resources available from UT Libraries:

 

Literature & Art

Articulations of Resistance: Transformative Practices in Arab-American Poetry

Four Arab American Plays: works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, and Lameece Issaq & Jacob Kader

Modern Arab American fiction: a reader’s guide

The Music of Arab Americans: a retrospective collection

Poetics of Visibility in the Contemporary Arab American Novel

 

Politics & History

Arab American News (periodical)

The Arab Americans: a history

Arab American Biography

A kid’s guide to Arab American history: more than 50 activities

Race and Arab Americans before and after 9/11: from invisible citizens to visible subjects

Telling Our Story: The Arab American National Museum

 

Other Resources:

ACC’s research guide on Arab/Middle Eastern Americans

Arab American Historical Foundation

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Professor Germine Awad, UT College of Education

 

 

GLSEN’s Day of Silence 2021: Silence & Violence in the Library Catalog

by Devon Murphy & Elizabeth Gerberich

Today thousands of students and educators nationwide are participating in GLSEN’s Day of Silence. Originally created by UVA student Maria Pulzetti in 1996 as part of a class project, GLSEN now helps organize the annual event in which participating students & educators remain silent throughout the school day to draw attention to erasure and harassment of LGBTQ students inside the classroom. Through their silence, participants intend to highlight the power of words—to show how both violent language and the failure to acknowledge existence contribute to the exclusion and dehumanization of queer and trans students.  

GLSEN Day of Silence Logo that features a red, monochromatic picture of an open mouth

Words are the foundation of our profession, and as library staff, it’s crucial we recognize the ways in which erasure and violence have been built—often purposefully—into our systems. Last month on the blog, Daniel Arbino & Gina Bastone highlighted how UT librarians subverted standard cataloging practices to create two collections, the Black Queer Studies Collection and the Latinx LGBTQ Collection, that challenge racist, homophobic, and transphobic library systems.  In observation of Day of Silence, we wanted to both provide some further context for the cataloging practices that Daniel & Gina mention and spotlight efforts of queer and trans librarians in developing their own descriptive vocabularies. 

Cataloging, by nature, requires categorization, and institutional classification of groups of people always reflects broader histories of power and struggle. Libraries, as institutions, are no exception. Epistemic networks connect library work to other academic, state, and professional institutions’ vocabularies, which inform the language we use in cataloging and descriptive practices today. Literary warrant, or the practice of using existing domain literature to create terms, directly links the descriptive methodologies used by varied institutions and scholars to thesauri like Library of Congress (LCSH) and the Getty Vocabularies. At LCSH, which was first formed in the 1890s, early to mid-20th century medical and psychological scholarship were employed as appropriate sources to build vocabularies for LGBTQ+ concepts, crystallizing terms meant to pathologize LGBTQ+ communities for organizing, describing, and disseminating library holdings. Other terms, like those for Indigenous gender identities, were deliberately excluded from these vocabularies in accordance with early anthropological theories and assimilationist government projects. LCSH’s dominance in cataloging standards broadened this impact with archives, academic institutions, and visual resource collections also implementing LCSH-derived content.  

Legacies of biolence and exclusion are particularly salient in the lack of appropriate transgender, queer, and nonbinary terminology in LCSH that demonstrates the full & rich diversity of gender expressions. For example, nonbinary is still a “see also” term, meaning that it is not preferred for cataloging use and does not have a persistent identifier assigned, limiting its cataloging utility further. Problematic hierarchies and knowledge organization systems also hamstring LGBTQ+ descriptive efforts, as demonstrated by the fact that materials pertaining to Two-Spirit people are still located solely under the broader “Indians of Americasubject heading. Issues abound in other vocabulary systems as well, such as the Getty Vocabularies: artist records within Getty’s Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) can only have a male, female, or N/A value for gender. While FAST, or Faceted Application of Subject Terminology, replicates some of LCSH’s terminology issues, due to its vocabulary base being built from LCSH terms.  

The cover of "Lavender Legacies," an early resource for LBGTQ + documents and vocabularies
The cover of “Lavender Legacies,” an early resource for LBGTQ + documents and vocabularies.

Wherever there are systems of power, there are always histories of resistance—changes to cataloging terms, like changes in any other institution, mirror these histories, too. Trans and queer communities have a strong tradition of self-determination: creating their own terms, vocabularies, and knowledge collectives to suit their needs, and LGBTQ+ library professionals have sought to change violent terminology for better & more inclusive knowledge sharing. In the 1970s and 80s, these efforts focused on changing terms in LCSH that classified gay and lesbian subjects as “sexual perversions,” and further sustained efforts in the following decades have led to additions of LGBTQ+ terms to reflect Trans identities, even though limited in scope. Adoption of terms like Two-Spirit/2 spirit” and Indigiqueer” in the catalog seek to reclaim Indigenous trans/queer identities violently suppressed by colonialism. Continuing in these traditions, library/archives staff and scholars have also collaborated to create resources outside of LCSH to improve LGBTQ+ description. Homosaurus is a linked data vocabulary for LGBTQ+ terms, meant to capture the linkages and complexities in LGBTQ+ identities. The Digital Transgender Archive includes rich collections on transgender history as well as a listing of transgender-related terms used throughout the world. And Histsex is a collaborative effort to create a bibliography of gender and sexuality terms and content. 

It should go without saying that the language we use to describe and categorize people in library systems matters; providing all patrons with fair & open access to credible information is an unachievable goal when cataloging practices and search terms are violent, inaccurate, or exclusionary. And, at a point when the majority of state legislatures are considering transphobic and homophobic policy projects which draw upon the same descriptors as library standards, the persistent violence in cataloging systems is especially painful. On this Day of Silence, we invite you to explore the resources in this post & think about how you might use them in your work in the future.  

Works Referenced: 

Adler, Melissa A. “”Let’s Not Homosexualize the Library Stacks”: Liberating Gays in the Library Catalog.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 24, no. 3 (2015): 478-507. Accessed April 22, 2021.  

Adler, Melissa. “Transcending Library Catalogs: A Comparative Study of Controlled Terms in Library of Congress Subject Headings and User-Generated Tags in LibraryThing for Transgender Books.” Journal of Web Librarianship 3, no. 4 (November 23, 2009): 309–31.  

Drabinski, Emily. “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 83, no. 2 (2013): 94–111. 

 Drescher, Jack. “Out of DSM: Depathologizing Homosexuality.” Behavioral Sciences 5, no. 4 (December 4, 2015): 565–75. 

Edge, Samuel J. “A Subject ‘Queer’-y: A Literature Review on Subject Access to LGBTIQ Materials.” The Serials Librarian 75, no. 1–4 (April 26, 2019): 81–90. 

Eyler, A. Evan, and Saul Levin. “Interview with Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO/Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association on the 40th Anniversary of the Decision to Remove Homosexuality from the DSM.” LGBT Health 1, no. 2 (March 13, 2014): 70–74. 

Giami, Alain. “Between DSM and ICD: Paraphilias and the Transformation of Sexual Norms.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 44, no. 5 (July 1, 2015): 1127–38. 

“GLBT Controlled Vocabularies and Classification Schemes.” Text. Round Tables, December 29, 2009. http://www.ala.org/rt/rrt/popularresources/vocab  

Johnson, Matt. “Transgender Subject Access: History and Current Practice.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 48, no. 8 (September 27, 2010): 661–83. 

Murphy, Devon. “Knowledge Organization Systems and Information Ethics for Visual Resources.” Visual Resources Association Bulletin 47, no. 2 (December 20, 2020). https://online.vraweb.org/index.php/vrab/article/view/193. 

ONE Archives Foundation. “Uncovering the History of LGBTQ Archives and Libraries.” Accessed April 22, 2021. https://www.onearchives.org/uncovering-history-lgbtq-archives-libraries/   

Picq, Manuela L, Bosia, Michael J ; McEvoy, Sandra M ; Rahman, Momin “Decolonizing Indigenous Sexualities: Between Erasure and Resurgence” The Oxford Handbook of Global LGBT and Sexual Diversity Politics (May 7, 2020) 

University of Alberta Library. “Subject Guides: Equity, Diversity, & Inclusivity: Library Resources: Two-Spirit.” Accessed April 22, 2021. https://guides.library.ualberta.ca/edi/2s   

UT Libraries LGBTQ+ Resources:
Further reading from the DAC blog: 

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)

 

 

This article is (no longer) a stub: help us expand the record!

Poster with blue & purple background, featuring a solidarity fist holding a paintbrush in front of the trans symbol, promoting UTL's 2-in-1 Wikipedia virtual edit-a-thon

The “sum of all human knowledge”?

We’ve all seen it: “This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.” Though it is the largest encyclopedia in existencea project for which a stated goal is to “compile the sum of all human knowledge”information gaps abound on Wikipedia. And, after twenty years of providing the world with open-source information, Wikipedia’s representation problem, in both contributors and content, has been well documented.

Most recent estimates place the proportion of contributors who are cis men at or above 80%. As of this February, the gender demographics of the site’s biographies is roughly the same: only 18.7% of the English language entries are about women. The racial demographics of editors is more opaque: it’s widely accepted that editors are overwhelmingly white, however few studies propose any numerical estimates as to how white contributors skew. At 65 references, the entry for the history of Maine is over four times longer than that of the entire country of Botswanajust one example among millions of the site’s racial and geographic bias.

In response, many angered at their communities’ exclusion from the “sum of human knowledge” have recognized that dedicating time & space (whether cyber or physical) to demystifying the Wikipedia editing process is critical in reaching what Wikimedia Foundation CEO Katherine Maher calls “knowledge equity.” Groups like Women in Red, Black Lunch Table, Art+Feminism, and AfroCROWD help users navigate editing standards that require verification from sources that have historically favored white men as well as provide space for editors from marginalized communities to connect with one another through meet-ups and edit-a-thons. Museums, libraries, schools, and other community groups worldwide now host dozens of edit-a-thons per week focused on improving existing articles and creating new ones to fill Wikipedia’s content gaps.

Edit-a-thons at UT Libraries

For the past few years, UT Libraries has hosted two edit-a-thonsQueering the Record and Art+Feminismboth aiming to expand the information available on Wikipedia related to queer, trans, and feminist topics. Though Art+Feminism is part of a worldwide series of edit-a-thons, Queering the Record is a homegrown effort. What started as a collaboration between the hosts (Kathy Tu & Tobin Low) of WNYC’s podcast Nancy, UT Humanities Librarian Gina Bastone, and UT’s iSchool Pride as a lead-up to Nancy’s 2018 SXSW even now approaches its fourth year as a UTL staple event.

With the COVID-induced shift to virtual learning, this year’s events will look a little different: instead of two separate (and in person) edit-a-thons, we’ve decided to combine them into a one-day virtual event. We know the UTL community is pretty Zoomed out, so we’ll be hosting on Discord. Join us for one or both edit-a-thons anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday March 11th! No previous Wikipedia editing experience is necessarylibrarians will be there to guide through each step of the process.

Hold up! Don’t all librarians hate Wikipedia?

In short, no! In fact, many librarians recognize that libraries and Wikipedia share a similar goal: to provide open access to diverse range of knowledge. We’ve likely all heard the phrase “just anyone can edit it” to caution against using the site as a source for a research paper. However, if “just anyone” can edit, that means students, professors, and librariansall for whom research is a professioncan edit articles, too. As #1Lib1Ref (a campaign encouraging librarians to add citations to Wikipedia entries) says, “in a digital environment that spreads #fakenews, and allows major languages and cultural voices to dominate, building a more diverse, more dynamic knowledge commons for the future requires the collaboration of librarians, Wikimedians and knowledge seekers around the world.” At UT Libraries, we know that with both access to millions of credible sources and a solid research skill sets, our community is distinctively positioned to create, edit, and improve articles in the effort to work towards a Wikipedia that reflects us all.

Rosie the Riveter poster with the phrase "We Can [edit]!" replacing "We Can Do It!"
We Can Edit! Public domain image, modified by Tom Morris, via Wikimedia Commons

Join us!

UT Libraries’ 4th annual Queering the Record and 3rd annual Art+Feminism 2-in-1 Virtual Edit-a-thon

Thursday March 11th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., via our Discord server: http://bit.ly/UTLWEaTh

No previous experience necessary to participate in one or both edit-a-thons.

Follow #UTLWEaTH21 to connect with librarians and other editors on social media!

Further Reading from UT Collections

 

–by Elizabeth Gerberich, with contributions from Gina Bastone and Elle Covington

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

Documentaries

Women’s Own Words

United Nations International Women’s Day Virtual Event