we sink to new depths

I woke up this morning to an anonymous commenter sarcastically attacking me for writing that Stephen Abram should apologize for the “Jane, you ignorant slut!” debacle, and accusing me of failing to apologize for my own talk at Charleston. I’m not going to re-engage with that beyond saying that I did  apologize as publicly as I could for hurting domestic violence survivors, and here is the link.

But it started me thinking. Thinking, as I prepped for my day at work today, a day which includes the first meeting of this year’s campus Diversity in Action Coalition, in which we will talk about how we support and engage our minority communities on our traditionally very homogenous campus. Thinking, as I surfed the morning’s online content in my librarianship Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds, where there’s this whole #TeamHarpy thing going on. #TeamHarpy exists because, as they note on their website, “Joseph Murphy (aka Joe Murphy) has begun legal proceedings naming nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey as defendants in a defamation lawsuit, asking for a total of 1.25 million dollars in damages.” The defendants claim their comments on Mr. Murphy’s public persona are truthful, and they intend to spend a great deal of money as they are forced to defend themselves.

Barbara Fister has also written on Inside Higher Ed about this case, and brilliantly concludes with a paragraph I agree with on every single point:

I don’t know Joe Murphy and all I knew about him was his reputation, which the lawsuit claims has been damaged by Rabey and de jesus, even though that damage actually happened long before they put anything in writing. (And if you think we shouldn’t talk about this because he’s innocent until proven guilty, remember this is not a criminal case and he is not a defendant, as de jesus has so lucidly explained.) It could be that he has been unfairly maligned for the past few years. But in a profession that’s all about the value of sharing information and protecting access to multiple perspectives, this isn’t how you defend your reputation. You engage. You discuss. You listen. You try to figure stuff out. You don’t attempt to silence people with punitive legal actions. If you do, you are doing it wrong.

(Except, in the interests of full disclosure, I have met Joe, and have been “nice shirt”ed by him, and as a woman who is loosely in his same age-and-career-path cohort, I was warned by other women about being alone with him long before Rabey and de jesus started talking about it on the internet.)

So. Here’s what I think when I think about what I’ve done online so far this morning.

  • When you screw up you apologize for it.
  • When others screw up you demand they apologize for it.
  • When the disempowered and marginalized voices in our communities choose to speak, the majority needs to listen, and question, and debate, and learn.
  • When people say things they believe to be true based on their own experiences, you don’t sue them for $1.25 million, you open a dialogue instead.
  • When honest and open attempts at dialogue fail, then you make choices about when to take further more dramatic actions.

I guess your mileage may vary on those things, but they seem to me to be very fundamental to being good people who coexist with other good people in this world.

And I write all of this, this morning, knowing full well that we now live in a world of librarianship where I not only face an email inbox full of brightly vitriolic email for speaking my mind (a truth I’ve been living with for years), but also a world of librarianship in which I might be sued for more than a million dollars for writing something that someone else thinks is unfair to them. Well done, broader community of librarians. Well done.



bigger is only sometimes better

So, I went to ALA, again. My first ALA was Midwinter, in Boston, which I attended because it was drive-able (and I got to stay at the Four Seasons at conference registration rates). I presented at New Orleans, and went to Anaheim to present and attend various trainings and workshops, then went to Chicago because that’s home, and I went this year to participate in some panel discussions and also to accept the 2014 HARRASSOWITZ Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award. At each of those, I attended sessions, as well, and had a chance to hear speakers I wouldn’t otherwise have […] keep reading…

A small object lesson about the scholarly communication ecosystem

Yesterday I started following links and ended up at the supplementary material for the article “Evaluating Big Deal Journal Bundles“, which reminded me that I want to read it in full. And while PNAS has OA content, the thing I want is not yet available. So I wrestled with our discovery layer for a while, realized it was never going to find an “early access” article indexed there, and submitted an ILL request by filling out the Illiad form manually. Today, I got one of our standard ILL replies from our Collection Building staff. As I started reading, and saw […] keep reading…

Driveby observation on acronyms and initialisms

Three SUNY groups came up in a meeting this morning: The SUNY Council of Library Directors The SUNY Moodle Users Group The SUNY Chief Academic Officers When you treat them as initialisms, they become, respectively in our communal awareness, SCLD, SMUG, and “the CAOs”. If you read them aloud as acronyms, instead, they become “scold”, “smug”, and “chaos”. Man, we are just not doing ourselves any favors! We complain, as a profession, about library-specific vocabulary, and the acronym soup that plagues us, but I’m realizing that it’s not just libraries — it’s academia. I think it’s time to come up […] keep reading…

on apologies

At CLA’s Great Debate last week, library conference and blogosphere fixture Stephen Abram addressed panelist Jane Schmidt with “Jane, you ignorant slut!” You may recognize that as a famous Dan Aykroyd line from Saturday Night Live, from the 1977-78 era. And you may, additionally, be wincing at the thought that someone said that on stage. To a female panelist. At a conference. About libraries. If you are not wincing, please consider this: “slut” is a sexual slur that nearly always contains misogynistic and oppressive over- and undertones, and feels like a shaming attack when it is addressed at you. Even […] keep reading…

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