Takeaways from California Research and Academic Libraries Conference, 2024

This week I am fortunate to join our academic library colleagues at their statewide conference. I am encountering a variety of products and ideas that might be of use to US/HS-serving colleagues (and a few that might be helpful to all), so I am going to record them here.

The theme was The Insufficient Librarian. It was about both justice work and also the need to fight the feelings of insufficiency at work and learn to embrace boundaries and joy. So, below you will find notes about both IL skills and joy skills! (Let’s work on those JOY skills!)

For everyone, from our keynote speaker, Mychal Threets:

*I have long been wishing for a replacement for “How are you?” and am now considering “Are you ready for joy?” Might need to develop a follow-up questions along the lines of “How can I help you get there?”

*Do you use social media to promote your library? Mr. Threets reminded us that screen readers need help with hashtags. While they can see the separate words in #LibraryJoy (capitalizing the first letter of each word), they cannot parse #libraryjoy into readable parts.

Important new framing from Librarian Amy Gilgan from University of San Francisco:

Multipartiality,” not neutrality

“Neutrality” tends to favor people in power, multi partial acknowledges all but also power operating in the room.

Lit review of literature about joy at work, Kitty Luce and Margot Hanson

Here are the slides of their review. I mean, who doesn’t love a lit review!?!

True Fun from Stef Baldivia and Elizabeth Tibbitts

*We did a very cool “joy audit” to consider elements of our personal life and then our work life. It was awesome, actually. We looked for “fun magnets”: “Fun magnets are what bring the true fun alive for you.”

*The main focus was on library events, and making traditionally bureaucratic, dreadful draggy events into fun, joyful spaces in which your collaborators want to come. They based their thinking on the framework of SPARK:

S (making space – decluttering, taking space when needed, featuring your space, everyone is welcome)

P (pursuing passions – find something people can really get into)

A (Attracting fun – just really thinking about and opening oneself up to places where fun can enter into generally laborious moments)

R (rebelling – fun at work is rebellious)

K (keeping it going – make it a habit)

Example: These particular librarians took the meeting in which the disciplinary department representatives got trained in how to request books from the library collection (which never included the subject librarians!) and turned it into a passport-based fair. They invited all departments of the library to table at the fair, and were able to stimulate a bunch of conversations between faculty members and library folks offering services of which the faculty were not aware.

Virtue Information Literacy: Flourishing in an Age of Anarchy, by Wayne Bivens-Tatum

Virtues: open-mindedness, humility, modesty, courage, caution, thoroughness, justice, and information vigilance. This book draws heavily on “virtue ethics” from the discipline of philosophy, is highly interdisciplinary in its roots, and sounds quite intellectual — an interesting concept overall.

TikTok analogies for information lit instruction, from Laura Wimberley of California State University, Northridge (you are going to have to do your own self-education on TikTok, as I am so not there):

*Finding a strong initial article for citation tracing is like your first follow that indicates to the algorithm what you like and want to see more of in your feed

*Literature reviews are like explainers (I will try to get my hands on her example and share it, if I can)

*A citation is a stich (you are on your own here, I am working on growth mindset re: understanding stiches)

The National Library of Medicine has an online Medical History hub and a very interesting Know the Science tool

Pheonix Bioinformatics has some very interesting tools for K-12, including:

*Tair, a reference for gene function data that can be free for K-12

*MorphoBank, a paleontology database

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