Labor/2017-07-21

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DLF WG on Labor in Digital Libraries, Archives and Museums

Contingency/Precarity Subgroup

Note-taker: Ruth Kitchin Tillman. Names redacted.

Recommendation for further reading

[OpenCon guide for planning an inclusive conference]

Conversations About Readings

A Student Collaborators' Bill of Rights

  • How we think about how education is provided through student labor--can we apply some of this to the early-career nature of grants.
  • Acknowledgement of power in the academic hierarchy. Principles. Pay, credit.
  • When you’re paying someone to do work, there’s certain things you owe them, when someone’s unpaid, then they merit pay in terms of teaching. You can’t set/forget it. Something lacking - There’s mention of paying them but not of what you should pay them. Indication that you should be paying a liveable wage for this work would be useful.
  • Liked the distinction between types of work in a student context. “Mechanical” vs. “Intellectual” labor.
  • building on previous, similar in a grant context - expectation that someone fresh out of library school might take a short-term grant, might learn a very specific skill, but how does that relate to the larger type of work that you might need to learn. Grant positions need to have the same thought put into them as graduate internships.
  • building prof dev funds and time into the grant. x% of their time will be spent on professional development.
  • connects to Keepers of the Digital Future. We should look to them for the intellectual support.
  • Giving a certain degree of agency. There is a rigidity to the expectations of the grant that’s paying your salary, but where do you have the chance to explore your interests. A student may have more opportunity to select. You’re expected to promote the grant. Also how much are you a part of or not a part of the institution.

All Labor is Local

  • thinking about labor as not just within an institution, but also recognizing that people also have care labor outside of work, such as childcare or elder care. Can those kinds of responsibilities be factored into how we pay people in grant positions? Also thinking about community, and recognizing the way that grant labor can uproot people and drop them into unfamiliar places. Are there ways that grant positions could better integrate the people in them into communities? Could that be part of our recommendations?

Implications of Archival Labor

  • Historian who didn’t realize that the beautiful boxes with finding aids don’t appear out of thin air. They didn’t understand or respect any of that work until they’d encountered it beforehand. Archivists have a lot of practices which limit our own ways of doing outreach--hours, difficulties for people with disabilities, colonizing topics, asking people to consider the work we do and the ability to come and use the archives a privilege vs. any kind of collaboration.
  • Reccs: Building equitable salaries. Maybe we can only hire one person at a fair rate and we should focus on creating that better job and expose the labor of those who work behind the scenes. Why do we feel like these are the only ways we feel like we can get this done? What do we do when coming up against university policies and states laws and such? Advocating for changes at a higher level.
  • (also, we kind of hide things that aren’t processed)

Grant Cycles, Deadlines, and Labor Advocacy: The Changing Work of Project Archivists

  • the presentation is really explicit about the kinds of salaries people were making and whether or not they got raises. Should we add raises and that people should at least have room for a cost-of-living raise?
  • can we give people more kinds of venues to talk about that kind of thing.

MLA Statement on the Use of Part-Time and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty Members

  • the ratio of hard-funded vs. soft-funded vs. students (and volunteer) stood out to her. How does that tie in to valuing what we do. Has research been done on comparing this recommendation to what people did. Brings up Graduate Students losing positions to adjuncting positions.
  • super disappointed that this was from 1994. How do we hope to issue some kind of statement that’ll have impact. What kind of power can we assert?
  • I found it interesting that the statement specifically argues that graduate students are distinct from tenure-track and adjunct instructors. In my experience, I've not seen that distinction so clearly. Often grad students have to choose between limited departmental funding for TAing, or limited adjunct compensation. It's not a fun choice.
  • these guidelines are overly kind-of nice. How could it have been worded differently, more strongly.
  • referencing OpenCon’s document (now linked at the top of the document)

Guidelines for Using Volunteers in Libraries

  • From 1971, have to read between lines to find applicability to today’s situations. Impressed with a point they made that any programs that come out of volunteer activity need to eventually employ staff (whether volunteer or something else). A different kind of context because this is more for people in local communities.

Keepers of Our Digital Future

  • seemed more like the goal was to understand NDSR as a program and how it may teach recent graduates the skills they need in order to get skills in the digital world. But a lot of the conclusions and recommendations toward the end, a lot were focused on labor practices. Perhaps because they’re precarious and they’re only one year long. She thought the conclusions were clear and specific and meant for folks who may be interested in starting some sort of similar program. Making recommendations recognizing that our audience will probably be the folks who do care.
  • Far too long for our purposes. Most people aren’t going to get through something like this.

Best Practices for Internships as a Component of Graduate Archival Education

  • This is one based off of Public History. They address on the landing page that they don’t recommend being unpaid, but otherwise try to meet every other requirement. How much do we want to present a framework of “this is the best practice” and not even give people an out. If there’s some authority, people will feel less room for getting an out. Something significant should come out of it, some kind of deliverable they can use in their portfolio. Evaluations. We should fight the need for unpaid internships. Not replacing full-time staff.
  • So, we need to make it possible to fail to meet the guidelines, and indicate that there's no real good reason for that?
  • that statement comes up in a lot of these documents, maybe it’s not specific enough. They shouldn’t be doing work that’s operational is more specific than what’s in SAA recommendations. It’s not followed because we just wouldn’t X without the intern.

= SAA Best Practices for Volunteers

  • “Individuals should not serve as volunteers to for-profit, private sector institutions.”
  • Recommends DACS principles which talk about accepting collections that we can make accessible in a reasonable amount of time and can become a thing that we tie to and what kinds of responsibilities people should take on, including in grants, based on what they can reasonable and ethically do.

In terms of asserting our recommendations