This guest post was written by Violet Fox, Metadata Librarian at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.
|The theme for the 2017 Minnesota Library Association’s Annual Conference was “Radical Librarianship,” and I couldn’t have been more excited! I was excited to hear from library workers not only about the great things that libraries do for our users, but also how we as a profession should strive to recognize and address our shortcomings.
I was delighted to be able to present alongside some of my favorite library folks: Hannah Buckland (Leech Lake Tribal College), Tina Gross (St. Cloud State University), and Jessica Schomberg (Minnesota State University, Mankato). In our session, we talked about how centralization in cataloging often prevents libraries from responding flexibly to the needs of their users, and encouraged all librarians to argue for the value of local control in our standards and vocabularies in order to provide respectful and responsive metadata.
A number of MLA 2017 presentations gave me ample material to reflect on. Standouts included Safiya Umoja Noble’s session on how increasing reliance on opaque algorithms results in upholding societal inequity and oppression, as well as an interesting session from librarians at Dakota County Library (Christie Schultz and Lori Veldhuis) on their valuable project to make their world language collection more accessible and attractive to patrons.
Alhough I don’t do usability testing or user surveying in my job, the most exciting session I attended was “UX is Social Change: the Feminist Impact of User Experience Work” by librarians at Metropolitan State University (Christine Larson, Jennifer DeJonghe) and Hennepin County Library (Amy Luedtke, Tony Hirt). The presenters talked about how they use feminist principles within their work, in part by centering patron experiences and recognizing that patrons have knowledge and experience that we don’t. They also discussed their efforts to recruit UX participants intentionally, and acknowledged that it can be uncomfortable to have one’s design ideas critiqued. I very much appreciated the presenters’ unapologetic embrace of “disciplined empathy” in their work, and their presentation encouraged me to find ways to do the same in my own day-to-day work.
I’m grateful for CMLE’s support to attend MLA 2017 and I’d like to encourage Minnesota library colleagues to attend and present at next year’s conference!
Do you want to attend a conference or take part in some other professional development? Apply for a scholarship from CMLE today!