DLF WG on Labor in Digital Libraries, Archives and Museums: Valuing Labor Subgroup
Meeting minutes: September 20, 2017
Note-taker: Melissa Chalmers. Names redacted.
Check-ins & Discussion
Librarians' status as faculty
- [At one institution] put in place some infrastructure for supporting and promoting professional track faculty
- Fight at document level of policy making
- Need to make things explicit, e.g. need for mentorship
- [At another institution] Went through process of clarifying librarian status as non-TT faculty.
- Mentorship is something that hasn’t been part of process, expectation of providing mentors only now being discussed.
- Recently: lay-offs, two staff and three librarian positions lost, so mentorship may not be on the agenda at the moment.
- [At another institution] Finally on track to get new faculty policy approved and ratified
- Pushback on peer review in the hiring process.
- Large number of librarians in different types of jobs and lack of confidence that there’s a useful definition of librarian work that could assess across all the types of jobs.
- Talk of limiting contract positions to 3 years, then making permanent.
- Will be interesting, given the increasing reliance on contract labor for things like maintenance and repair.
- To date little enforcement or standardization on contract limits because no ratified policy.
- One department has 30 librarians whose contracts need to be renewed every year or two, their voices are not often heard.
- Pushback on peer review in the hiring process.
- [At another institution] We are all on annual contracts!
- That’s why we are all vulnerable to system wide cuts.
- Protected TT faculty, non-TT faculty vulnerable.
- Colleague of 38 years said this is the first time where they did not renew contracts bc of budget issues.
- Leadership trying to define system, consistencies across units (e.g. annual contracts, three year contracts, expectations of renewals).
- Interested to hear comparison from other universities
- Sounds like how they handle grant-funded positions, at end of which ask can we hire this person or do they have to find another position.
Workplace climate surveys & feedback mechanisms
- Striking difference between faculty, staff in terms of satisfaction about transparency, equity, fairness, hierarchy (staff less satisfied)
- Some people report not feeling sense of belonging, librarians of color have met with the dean, reaching out to staff too
- Staff not feeling empowered, no feedback mechanism for supervisors; class environment, inconsistencies in supervision.
- Need feedback mechanism for institutional culture, sense that currently not solving the right problem.
- How to better create an equitable environment, empower the voices of our staff here?
- In process of setting up meetings to create measures; librarians of color meeting, trying to provide feedback at the supervisor level
- Generalized to all supervisors, not identifiable
- Staff level employees of color are vulnerable, easily exposed.
- Hoping to create widely available supervisor feedback mechanism, lower risks of reporting and create holistic assessment process.
- Feedback can be tricky in general:
- e.g. when there are one or a few faculty members
- Challenges of generalizing feedback mechanisms in small departments where there is only one person in any given job
- Coordinator at a branch library gave feedback at library governance meeting on behalf of student workers
- Called for greater awareness of student workers as laborers, elevate voices, respect time
- Reaction was shock/surprise by audience
- “Have a student worker do it” phrase
- Hearing it more lately, what does that mean?
- What are we saying about the work or the worker?
- Someone has to do the grunt tasks, unless it can be automated or scripted away.
- Can repetition be automated, or is it something that needs one on one engagement?
- Reflection on student library worker experience: adding 0’s to film catalog entries, editing every single record individually -- probably there was a more efficient, external workflow available for that.
- Creating digital collections
- How do we treat or interact with graduate student workers?
- Ethics of care/feminist framing
- Student hiring process
- Ended up interviewing the same people that everyone else did, as revealed while chatting with other units hiring student workers.
- Should there be guidelines in place to avoid this?
- What are the criteria here and why are we all interviewing the same people?
- Are there particular kinds of work experience that are transferrable?
- Are there other ways to encourage diversity, open mindedness in the hiring process?
How to make strategic efforts worthwhile to people in the trenches?
- Meeting of library, library IT staff for strategic planning
- Disconnect between what management wants to talk about and staff accomplishing specific tasks.
- Long standing thoughts about the library profession as a whole & its veneration of a service ethic
- Not trying to suggest service is the wrong term, but presents problems, especially when interacting with faculty, seems like it puts library workers at disadvantage for these interactions.
- Trying to sort through thoughts on this, role of archivists and librarians particularly in academic (DH) projects.
- What does it mean to be a service professional in the library and archives sector?
- Who are we serving or working with?
- How does “care work” get acknowledged by faculty, students, or administrators?
- Trying to figure out an identifiable role for libraries (and librarians?) in the research process
What kind of labor is appropriate for different situations, level, benefits and challenges?
- What should we be providing the person, what are the challenges we are facing, what cost to us?
- Focusing on experiential learning opportunities
- Example: Digital stewardship or digital library related work relevant for practicum students (120 hours)
- Reasonable investment for us, but they're also getting something out of it.
- Does this fit into what this group is doing? (Yes)
Readings & Resources
Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, “The Low Morale Experience of Academic Librarians: A Phenomenological Study,” Journal of Library Administration 57, no. 8 (2017): 846-878. doi:10.1080/01930826.2017.1368325
- low morale of librarians, workplace culture, and the labor issues there
Todd Suomela, Florence Chee, Bettina Berendt and Geoffrey Rockwell, “GamerGate and Digital Humanities: Applying an Ethics of Care to Internet Research,” CSDH/SCHN 2017
- Canadian DH conference presentation on ethics for digital collection projects, with a section on student researchers involved in DH projects.
- You can read the conference presentation and paper at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/r4p6cvw1vb8quuy/AACMh1OBpeJci7sShaFg9ZiMa?dl=0
Academic Archivist/Librarian Reading Calendar by Eira Tansey
Labor-Related Sessions at 2017 DLF Forum
Valuing Labor panel accepted! Thank you, presenters & proposal editors https://dlfforum2017.sched.com/event/Bzsg
Labor WG working breakfast ☕ https://dlfforum2017.sched.com/event/Bzt8
Other sessions related to valuing labor
- Show up, watch/listen with a labor “filter,” ask questions about labor implications!
- #m1a: Labor+ http://sched.co/Bzs4
- #m3a: Scholarship+ http://sched.co/BzsE
- #m4c: Funding Possibilities: Programs, Priorities, and Trends http://sched.co/BzsL
- #m5d: Community+ http://sched.co/BzsR
- #t1a: Digital Library Assessment: Leveraging Infrastructure to Support Community Practice http://sched.co/BzsZ
- #t3c: How to Build a 3D Imaging Program: An Overview of Technology, Skills, and Labor http://sched.co/Bzsl
- #t3e: Outreach+ http://sched.co/Bzsn
- #t6b: Community History and Public Work: New Voices in Digital Libraries http://sched.co/Bzsz
- #t7c: Service Management - Sharing Experiences and Defining a Community of Practice http://sched.co/Bzt4
Standing meeting on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.
Next meeting November 15.