Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Who do you make space for in your library? #GLAMBlogClub

It is important to consider who you are making welcome inside your library space. Inside the library space may be inside the library building or mobile, or it could be the library website/app as a space, the library catalogue as space, and of course it is the collections and services.  Skilled staff are also key, but I am not going to call them a space. There are helpful resources for planning how big to make public libraries, and considerations for that space (both of these are thanks to various people at my work place).   The library space needs to be big enough for the community into the future, and that still means planning for a plenty of space in the actual building (and you can read more about that here).  Please don't skimp on space.

It is important to consider who you are making welcome inside the library space and who you aren't.  When you look at your local population data, who aren't you seeing in the library space? Find out why they don't feel welcome in the library space (in the library/online). Maybe you need to go out to talk with them first, so they know about the library, go to the space where they are comfortable.  There are some very interesting targeted programs taking place, this is just one example.
Author Sonali Dev calls for taking action on library collections, saying 'don't be complicit in our silencing' (go and listen to her talk - see below).  
 It is crucial that authors such as Sonali Dev and Uzma Jalaluddin are given space in public library collections.  This silencing can happen with local authors too, and it is important to make sure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait authors are given space in the collection. Make sure you have given enough space in the catalogue record so that people can find find what they are looking for. Subject headings can really make a big difference for readers' advisory work, both for staff and the public. Becky Spratford has also written about this (and this also provides a specific instance).  We need diverse books and American Indians in Children's Literature provide examples of sources for children's authors too, and these are needed as the infographic below shows.

This complicity in silencing has a lot of potential in local studies collections too.  The recent article about how a Bengali book in Broken Hill sheds new light on Australian history highlights the importance of making sure that we are not writing people out of history, silencing them for the future. If you are only collecting one narrative, there are many stories and many people which are being silenced, and not given space in your library.  Recent collecting is important for giving space to more viewpoints and different histories.

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