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Sunday, June 10 • 3:15pm - 4:15pm
Bringing Social Justice Behind the Scenes: Transforming the work of technical services

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Inspired by the excellent work of the MIT Libraries, I recently advocated for, and was successful in creating, a Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Working Group at the Vassar College Libraries. I co-chair this group along with my colleague, Rachel Finn, and our membership represents a cross-section of library departments, and includes a mix of managers, administrators, and unionized staff.

Though our work is currently in the beginning stages, I am interested in developing a presentation for NASIG that looks specifically at ways in which values of social justice can be integrated into the day-to-day work of technical services. Frequently, social justice initiatives are thought of as activities belonging to outreach staff, or more public-facing staff; such initiatives exist alongside the daily work of librarianship rather than being fully integrated within it. I think there are opportunities for this work to happen within the technical services sphere, but it requires taking a hard look at existing workflows and staff capacity. Much of technical services work is built around the idea of "efficiencies," but what are we sacrificing in the name of efficiency? In the name of conveniences? In the zine librarian community (in which I am active) we have standards surrounding the idea of ethical acquisitions--what would that look like if it were to be developed for technical services more broadly? In the area of collections, how could we enhance diversity and inclusion by backing out of the big deal and/or approval plans? What would the impact on technical services departments be and how would be absorb that work? In the area of vendor performance, are we ready to sever ties with corporations that aren't centering social justice in their own work?

Again, this work at Vassar is only in the early stages; however, this is a moment when Vassar College as a whole is looking very seriously at transforming the academic and residential life of our community through the work of the Engaged Pluralism Initiative. My hope is that we will be able to build on this momentum and contribute to positive changes in campus climate.

I would like the opportunity to speak about our process, enumerate our short-term goals, and talk more about our aspirations for bringing real change to existing department workflows.

avatar for Heidy Berthoud

Heidy Berthoud

Head of Technical Services Technical Services, Vassar College
Acquisitions, cataloging, zines, and Russian studies. Frequent lurker on #critlib, #mashcat, and #radlib. Cat enthusiast.

Rachel Finn

Social Sciences Librarian, Vassar College

Sunday June 10, 2018 3:15pm - 4:15pm EDT