DLF WG on Labor in Digital Libraries, Archives and Museums: Valuing Labor Subgroup
Meeting minutes: October 4, 2019
Building a working group initiative around an issue
Facilitator/Note-taker: Amy Wickner
- 1 Background
- 2 Discussion
- 2.1 Gathering data to make a case for anecdotal stories we hear about labor issues → what next to make real & lasting change across LAM?
- 2.2 How can we help people gain the skills to understand what power they have and organize a campaign to actually push back?
- 2.3 Start at the top with funders, change perceptions where the $ comes from
- 2.4 Data collection related to Organized Labor goals in the Valuing Labor research agenda
- 2.5 What comes out of the Collective Responsibility Forum?
- 2.6 Success stories
- 2.7 Develop a topic from the Valuing Labor research agenda
- 3 Logistics & announcements
Prompt: What is one concrete, collective action that you would like the working group to take up in 2020?
To understand where we are as a group, you might draw upon:
- Monthly meetings from the past 5 months
- Collective Responsibility white paper
- Valuing Labor research agenda
Gathering data to make a case for anecdotal stories we hear about labor issues → what next to make real & lasting change across LAM?
- SAA Issues & Advocacy section interested in contingent labor in archives
- Lit review → basically nothing
- Survey, SAA-funded with consulting firm out of price range so DIY
- Shared out at SAA, will present at DLF
- Who else do you want to see this data?
- SAA doesn’t want to serve as repository so sharing out with anyone who asks
- No IRB approval so can’t publish
- Have discussed as section coming up with best practices doc
- Not sure how much power we have as a section to enact change profession-wide
How can we help people gain the skills to understand what power they have and organize a campaign to actually push back?
- Having moved into admin position & sitting with more people in admin/managerial positions, talking about institutional constraints
- Could be an advocacy toolkit but not necessarily
- Lots of (mis)perceptions about where you can/can’t push back v. if you talk to your HR it might not be a policy, maybe can actually be changed
- Feels like it’s beyond the scope of our grant bc lots of work but maybe something this group could think about doing
- The more people doing this kind of work the better but still struggling to see how we can build more connections, power together
- Even if groups focus on different aspects, intentional plan for addressing issues
- Tired of people accepting constraints as norms!!!!!! They’re norms for reasons because people don’t think they can be changed
Start at the top with funders, change perceptions where the $ comes from
- Numbers might make sense but morality of practices is off, short-term
- Lots of grants depend on low costs for labor so that more $ goes to digitization & preservation
- Became director & flipped budget towards staff from preservation - important to acknowledge the people behind the work
- 10-year-old program of all contract workers
- Important to say what the situation is and ask whether it’s sustainable (it’s not)
- Norms that funders expect is tied to “well this is how much they cost” i.e. low-paid workers
- Where do guidelines originate? How can we change them?
- Prison labor to digitize has happened in California -- “Why don’t we just outsource this work?”
- Leads on what vendors, sponsors, funder orgs are pushing this kind of thing? Separate investigation!
- In Collective Responsibility grant, funders raised the need for an appendix or standard for addressing labor in grant applications
- Institutions can reference
- Matter of adjusting expectations, shift to value labor rather than “cost-effectiveness”
- Meaningful that we can connect funders to information!
- The more people recognize it as a problem the better
- Digital library workers’ involvement in organized labor
- Developing a list of unions, and compiling resources for digital library workers interested in organized labor to inform themselves and participate.
- Could the salary spreadsheets that have been floating around might fit in with this?
- Potential overlap / collaboration with Information Maintainers
What comes out of the Collective Responsibility Forum?
- Lots more than we can finish on the grant project
- Want to revisit some of those, what does that look like & what makes most sense to people who are here?
- How to tackle HR on stuff?
- Search committee → recommendation → what if HR won’t budge on the salary range?
- Offering comparable pay to other parts of the country without taking cost of living into account
- What if not enough transparency about what exactly happens in the hiring process?
- It would be great to compile data on all of these institutional failures in the hiring/recruitment and retention of LAM workers - we should share these stories
Collecting examples of identifying a problem and making a change
Develop a topic from the Valuing Labor research agenda
Impacts of automation on the classification of digital library workers
Logistics & announcements
Labor-related sessions at DLF
- #m1c: "I'm not an archivist, but..." https://sched.co/S2U4
- #m2c: partnerships on campus https://sched.co/S2UJ
- Let’s Get Organized: Outreach Strategies to Engage Union Colleagues
- #m3c: The State of Temporary Labor https://sched.co/S2Ub
- #m4c: Digital Humanities and Library Labor https://sched.co/S2Uq
- #t3e: 7x: Assessment / Staffing / Project Management https://sched.co/S2Vf
- Ethical Digital Scholarship and Prison Labor?
- #t6d: partnerships + publishing https://sched.co/S2WX
Next meeting Monday 11/4, 3pm ET / 12pm PT - Internal & external advocacy