Here is where you'll find my latest blog posts. It's musings about living and working as a librarian.

open hand palm up


July 14, 2020

Hey! Thanks for visiting my site. Welcome to my first post. I plan on using this page as a platform to share both my professional and personal stories. I’ve been struggling to get back into writing; this might just do the trick!

Let me introduce myself but not in the typical way . . .

water pouring out of kettle into coffee device
Photo by Thanh Tran @coffee_wanderer

Digital Identity Hour

August 27, 2020

Today marks the first time I get to participate in my team’s Digital Identity Hour at Davidson College. I’m on the Digital Learning team with some amazing folks. I have decided to write. I used to write every day for my graduate work to help get my thoughts on “paper” for my dissertation topic. It was both helpful for my studies, as well as my brain!

I started writing 500 words without stopping, which is a fine method, but I’m not sure it works for blog posts—maybe. Today, I’m going to write about something easy for me to discuss—coffee. This may be sloppy, but it’s my attempt to start writing. This is one attempt to work on my digital identity!

Coffee is something I think about a lot of the time—not just the cliche of “oh I need more coffee”—but something I am truly passionate about. I am concerned about where my coffee comes from: what farm? how are the people (labor) treated/paid? are the farming practices equitable to both people and the environment? I buy from Sweet Maria’s. I try to buy coffee that has been visited by people who work for Sweet Maria’s. They have a great program, Farm Gate, that is as close to ethical buying of coffee that I have found for people who roast on a small-scale.

Did I not mention that I roast my of green beans? A friend of mine gave me his roaster years ago, one which he used for years, and I roasted with it for 5 years. I finally got a bigger one so I don’t have to do so many small batches. I will upload pictures of what it looks like in action when it arrives.

That’s all the time I have today. I will leave with a photo of my brewing setup:

Coffee grinder, scale, kettle, and pour over device on counter.

Photo by Matt Davis

So I joined a reading group . . .

October 22, 2020

MLKJr. Photo

Image by Chip Thomas – Jetsonorama on Just Seeds

I joined a reading group on abolition last week. There’s a great introductory study guide online with podcasts, videos, and text to engage with. This post will be my initial reflections, which will hopefully provide a rationale for my blogging.

Part of the reason for me to blog is to amplify more diverse voices. This guide is created and curated by BIPOC. I acknowledge the inherent tension of my writing with the desire to amplify BIPOC voices. I don’t want my blog to become a spotlight on my only. I want to lift diverse voices, and I find this study guide is a great way to do just that. I also want to keep them short.

I want to reflect on some of the takeaways from our first week’s reading (introduction). [Side note: the preface and introduction are some of the most critical content, whether that’s a book, guide, or article.]

The intro is packed with links for further reading since the guide’s authors must assume some basic knowledge. The introduction includes a two-part podcast with Ruth Wilson Gilmore on Intercepted. The podcast is a great way to get introduced to Abolition with contemporary parallels. Ruth Wilson Gilmore remembers her father as an antiracist organizer who “ was somebody who saw, long before Black Lives Matter, that when Black people’s lives matter, everybody’s lives get better.” Ruth Wilson Gilmore has simplified this into “where life is precious, life is precious.” This is so simple, yet it flies in the face of many North American individualistic ideals and practices. This intro clarifies the difference between harm and crime and how the prison industrial complex not only doesn’t decrease harm, but it perpetuates violence and harm—it’s reactionary to violence with more violence to reduce crime.

There’s a lot in the weeds here: property and people, harm and crime, reform and abolition.

I hope this doesn’t come across as merely a selfish desire to process the ideas “out loud” but instead raises awareness of antiracist practices, including abolition, and empowers us all to learn.

The Power of Groupthink and Othering

April 1, 2021

open hand palm up

Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

We all have biases. It’s unavoidable. It’s human, and like much in life, it matters more what we do with this information than simply being aware of our biases, which is an important first step.

Dr. Zeynep Tufekci spoke at the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Plus Conference on February 25, 2021. She was the closing keynote speaker and summed up the conference so well. She spoke about the quickly changing information landscape of COVID-19 over the last year (February 2020–February 2021), but especially in the first few months. The efficacy of masks, for example, had seemingly conflicting evidence in the US, but many cultures around the world, specifically Asian countries, wear masks and have supporting studies on the efficacy of masks, yet were mostly ignored.

Groupthink and othering are pervasive in the US today. Changing your mind about something can demonstrate healthy growth. Today, changing your mind is seen, generally, as a weakness or “drinking the Kool-Aid” or “switching sides.” Masks and the COVID-19 pandemic were (and still are) politicized, partly because of how the information was shared and who shared it.

Tufekci used the example of publishing information about COVID-19 early on in 2020. Much of NISO Plus Conference 2021 was about Open Science, Open Access, and consistent standards across disciplines. She, along with a group of others, released preprints and asked for peer-review from the masses. This posture of open-mindedness is crucial to scholarship (and all of life). Asking questions for critical feedback as a crowd-sourced peer-review process seems like a healthy first step in the publishing process. This prompted meaningful changes and re-framing of the paper, including changing the minds of the authors. This also allowed a larger, more diverse community to provide feedback that may have been kept out from the traditional peer-review process. These edits were then put through the more traditional peer-review process for further edits before final publication.

We can all practice a more open-minded posture in life. One that holds much of life with an open hand instead of a clenched fist. Critical thinking is important but must be integrated with open-mindedness and a willingness to change. I am not, however, calling for moderate views on everything. I think moderate views in much of life are more dangerous than not, especially in public health, human rights, and anti-Black racism.

I hope to continue to learn ways to dismantle groupthink in myself and others, work toward justice in the world, and see the humanity in everybody (including myself). I hope you’ll join me on this journey!

Open Documentation: Why it Can Be Fun!

October 1, 2021

pile of binders

Photo from Pexels with CC0 License

I never imagined documentation would be so fulfilling in my work. There’s a special sense of accomplishment when I complete a documentation page for a project that I’m working on. This post will be about my process so far and where I’d like to go in the near future.

I’m a librarian who works on a variety of projects: metadata creation, web development, digital archives, image and document organization, various systems migrations, many times while working with a class of undergraduate students! I love that I’m able to work on these classes/projects, but being able to step in and out of them is key to doing well on any of the projects, since, you know, there are competing priorities in the Library. This is where quality documentation comes in.

I have used a few different platforms for documentation and I still haven’t found one that I love. I recently went to a webinar on open documentation presented by Jay L. Colbert. Our jobs have a lot of cross-over and the tools, tips, and tricks he suggested are on my list to explore. I’ve been wanting to get more into Git and stretch its purpose to fit more simple documentation needs that may or may not include code. Jay’s presentation was just what I needed to move forward. Who knew library work would be so much fun!? Digital Gardening is another thing I’ve been interested in, but haven’t made the time for, but that’s for another blog post! 

The big first step is the right platform to house my work documentation. Good thing I have great co-workers to collaborate with to figure out a good solution. Whatever platform we decide, I hope there’s an openness element integrated since so much of our work can inform others’ and vice-a-versa.