Another general question of a post: how, as a librarian, do you activate change in people who don’t want to change?
I remember in high school there was a way to basically test out of classes. I’m not great at math, but my junior high’s math classes had been accelerated so I was a year ahead of most people in my grade mathwise, but I didn’t have to take Algebra over again in ninth grade because I already (theoretically) knew it. At my university, I got to opt out of taking some classes because I’d taken AP classes in high school.
It occurred to me today that while my entire research project was prompted by a question I have about the library I volunteer in, I’m too nervous to ask any of the people who work there for any sort of help, given the nature of the project. It’s a community education center along with being a library, and I once heard one of the secretaries discussing the actress Anne Heche as having once been romantically involved with Ellen DeGeneres but then having gone “the other way, you know, the normal way,” and what worried me was that none of the listening parties (the head librarian, the program coordinator) said any variety of “hey now” about that “normal.” One of the other secretaries, I know, is a Jehovah’s Witness; he was once joking with me about something, I forget what, and offhandedly and playfully mentioned marrying a man for his money as being an option I could undertake, and I just laughed and said that wasn’t gonna happen (both because I’m not that idea and because, well, I’m in a committed relationship with my girlfriend) and — maybe I’m spoiled, but I expect a large number of my friends would respond to that with “what about marrying a woman for her money?” i.e. acknowledging “alternative” sexualities, but possibly because he hasn’t been trained to do that and possibly because he, you know, presumably believes in his church’s doctrine that homosexuality is a sin, he did not see my dismissal as potentially because I’m not interested in men. (And to be fair, objectively, I am occasionally interested in men. But that’s getting into the business of personal and irrelevant territory.)
All of this is to say that it’s a fine line between not caring what people think of me (because in the broader sense, I don’t; I’m who I am and nobody is going to be able to change me and I’m not going to change for anybody) and wanting to be safe and comfortable in the workplace. It’s not my real workplace, I don’t get paid to be there, but I’ll have been volunteering there for three years this summer, and I mostly feel good about the experience. But I’m not sure if it’s worth jeopardizing that tenuous safety to ask for help looking into matters there (because even if they don’t make the connection between my interest in the subject and my, shall we say, personal investment in it, they still might be skeptical of why I would care about something that’s not “normal” to some degree or another), or if I should just go about it privately, or if I should bring the specific collection into it at all.
I’m not sure if there’s overlap in the courses here because that’s the nature of library science or because it’s only a couple terms in and that’s just what happens, but I feel like there’s a fair amount of overlap. And on top of that, there’s a lot of overlap with stuff I did in my undergrad (writing things for the sole purpose of practicing APA citation, as I did in one class last term; learning basic html, as I did in another class last term) and I’m not discounting the value of practicing these things, I guess, but —
I’m really excited for getting farther into the program and getting to do brand new things.
(This is a note brought to you by the thought of re-practicing survey administration, something that was a cornerstone of LS 560 – I am not complaining, merely observing.)
I don’t want to be a patronizing librarian. I don’t have experiences with patronizing librarians in particular, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the people I come into contact with who do training and technical support, which are things that libraries also do, can come across really patronizing. And that’s one of the things, I think, that keeps people from pursuing knowledge, is the fear of being condescended to. That just sucks.
Is there a way to change the world through library science? If so, I want to do that.
I guess the reason I decided to think about this for a potential research project is my volunteer job. I’m at a medical library, and granted, it’s a medical library in a fairly safe sort of town, but it occurred to me the other day. A large number of our patrons come in looking for literature about pregnancy, diabetes, or pregnancy diabetes (which I’ve learned is a separate thing, sort of) so a lot of our literature is on that, but we have reasonable collections of other sorts. General nutrition, a variety of cancers and other diseases, books about men’s health and women’s health and babies’ health and children’s health and teens’ health and health for different ethnic groups. I have prowled our stacks but I cannot for the life of me think if I’ve ever seen a book that specifically addresses health concerns that might be specific to the LGBTQA* community. Which seems really weird, because there are specific concerns. Mental health, for one (and some of the mental health books might address this in chapters, but not exclusively). I’m not sure if Salem, Oregon has a large population with HIV/AIDS, but I don’t know if we have any books about that. It’s just weird, and maybe it’s because we cater to our potential patrons, but it’s not like there aren’t LGBTQA* people everywhere, even if the community is more conservative (which ours really isn’t, in particular; there are pockets, but the hospital itself is on the outskirts of a very liberal neighborhood) and it’s not like they might not need medical literature too. A