Thursday, October 6, 2016

Googling Google: Search Engines as Market Actors in Library Instruction

I wrote a lesson plan for Nicole Pagowsky and Kelly McElroy's Critical Pedagogy for Libraries Handbook, Volume 2.

The two-volume set is available for purchase at the ALA store. If you don't mind waiting, both volumes will go open access at some point in 2017 (this is very cool!), and many chapters are already available via institutional repositories and self-archiving, among other means.

My chapter (pdf) focuses on thinking critically about Google's search engine and how librarians can help foster a sense of critical inquiry around searching.
Google searches return sexist, racist, and homophobic results, which both create and reinforce dominant narratives of white supremacy and heteronormativity. That is bad; faculty, students, and librarians alike should know about it and attempt to mitigate the deleterious effects of search results.  
Did that read like a tumblr post to you? Good, because I think libraries should be about social justice (they are not neutral, never have been, nor should they be), and I try to hit that x-axis of practicing what I preach, otherwise known as praxis.
If you're interested in the topic, I encourage you to read the work of Dr. Safiya Noble, who teaches at UCLA, and note that library discovery systems are not free of bias. Not by a longshot.

The lesson plan is CC - BY - SA, which means you can use it, make it better, and then share it. Please do all these things. Feedback welcome, and thanks much to the editors above (buy the books!), and to the hundreds of students and handful of librarians and library staff who helped me refine the lesson.

Elsewhere on this site in me sneaking things through peer review, my ACRL 2015 paper: Faculty Perceptions of a Library: Paneling for Assessment

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hey, it's me. I just got off the train.

<Extremely Remi Malek voice> Hey, it's been a while. Here's what's new.

My good friend and colleague Jessica Olin had been asking me to contribute an interview post to her blog, Letters to a Young Librarian. I was concerned that it was too similar to a "This is How I Work" meme post (in the Dawkinsian sense, not the cats who can or cannot haz cheezburgers sense) that I wrote in late 2014, also because Jessica asked me to. I got settled, I think, at the new job, and tried to be self-aware enough to focus on what I do now as opposed to how I worked in 2014 at a previous job. So in that vein, here's a similar post. Compare and contrast.

Building on those posts, I'm making a conscious effort to do a few things differently at this job, with varying degrees of success.
  • Not eating at my desk: I know there are and will be days when I'll have to hunker down and get stuff done at my desk. Eating anywhere other than there is good. It gets me out of the library. It puts me in contact with other people I work with, and with people who either use or may use the library. 
  • Leaving the library more often: even if it's just to crash an event and get free food, and for the reasons mentioned above. 
  • Much more outreach: I'm just a boy, leaning into my discomfort, with talking to people about the library. 
  • Going for more walks: easier when your workplace has paths and trails that look like this 
Sour oranges. I may pick a couple for masitas de puerco.

Not sure if that's a Little Yellow or Sleepy Orange butterfly.

Earlier in the year, Dr. Sarah Clark and I discussed critical librarianship, or "critlib," on Steve Thomas' podcast, Circulating Ideas. I abhor the sound of my voice, but maybe you don't. She wrote about it, too.

Topics included diversity versus inclusion, information literacy, and cataloging critically, among other things.


Coming up, more blogging! Really. Because I have a book chapter to plug. And maybe I'll expound upon those bullet points.