On the #libtechgender front, some very interesting thoughts (of which I wholly admit I am late to the party on, at least in this space).
ALA Releases a Statement of Appropriate Conduct for Conferences
At long last, the American Library Association has a Statement of Appropriate Conduct for their conferences, something that many of us who are active in the tech community and active in issues of gender have asked about for a long time. Mind you, it’s not a perfect statement; those of us on the latest episode of the T is for Training Podcast (we discuss it in the first 15 minutes) pointed out a few questions/concerns/thoughts we had about it:
- Where and how do certain groups fit in to this policy; i.e press, those who are just “lobbyconning” (visiting without paying for a full registration). We need a better definition of what “participants” in the policy means, because someone will challenge that definition.
- A general sense of disbelief, based on certain activities that are called out in the policy, that someone had to have done that/talked about/thought about doing it (this was around the provision prohibiting yelling at or threatening speakers) that it had to be included. More than once, the statement that “we’re all adults” came out, and that even if we are all adults, this had to be said.
- Conference Services promises to make certain information, such as how to report events and contact information for local law enforcement, security, etc. – but how will this be done. (We think it will be the website; but Maurice suggests putting this information on the back of your conference badge; which I think is a great idea).
It’s a first pass, and it’s a good first pass – makes it clear what behavior will and will not be tolerated at conference, but also allows for flexibility in interpretation. You can’t plan for every little nuance in a situation – sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and see what happens, and then deal with the aftermath. (I admit, this is not a good way to plan, but sometimes it is the only way. We are neither clairvoyant nor omnipotent.)
The code doesn’t spell out specific punishments (i.e., do X and you’re banned from all ALA conferences for life), but provides clear resources for those who feel unsafe, harassed, etc. This was one of the problems people had at NY Comic-Con this year, when a group used false press credentials from Sirius XM Radio to attend and sexually harass female attendees – they went to security and were just given lip service (as it appears that after the first report, this group of malcontents was still there). At least we know clearly who to go to when problems arise (which I hope never happens, but it’s a matter of if, not when), and in my experience dealing with ALA Conference Services, I have confidence we won’t see the response that my friends at NYCC saw to their claims.
One important distinction: A Code of Conduct is not a Big Brother policy. It does not prohibit you from having fun (adult and otherwise) at a conference. I saw a few comments in certain social circles (particularly the ALA Think Tank, which could do wonderful things for being an incubator for great ideas in librarianship but pretty much devolves into arguments that hurt feelings the majority of the time*) making this assumption. A Code of Conduct allows for safe spaces, for people to be comfortable and have fun without having to worry about their personal safety being threatened. The idea of this code is to call out the worst of the worst behavior and let people know that it will Not Be Tolerated. Coral Sheldon-Hess (linked below) brings up an important aspect of all humor: context. In the right context, a dirty joke can be funny – when all parties (joke teller, joke listeners) are comfortable. When you remove that comfort level, and the right context for the joke, it just becomes creepy. That’s where the Code of Conduct comes in – to provide a baseline level of context for what will and will not be tolerated. And if your ideas of fun involve making people feel unsafe, threatened, harassed, disgusting, etc. – quite frankly, we don’t want you in our spaces.
Additional thoughts on this new Code of Conduct throughout the Internet, from the people that took a much more active role in helping to create it (and I am grateful to them for being a part of this process):
- Andromeda Yelton: The New ALA Code of Conduct
- Lisa Rabey: Code of Conduct, Code4Lib, Lib Tech Gender, and My Vagina – Oh my!
- Coral Sheldon-Hess: Arguing for Inclusivity (Thorough read on breaking down the misconceptions of the Code of Conduct.)
#libtechgender: Our Internet Librarian Panel and Its Aftermath
I attended Internet Librarian for the first time this year, to participate in the Library Technology and Gender panel, with some great people to talk about the Gordian knot of technology and gender. The success of a great panel is how it lives on post-conference, and this panel, thanks to the good work of some of its panelists is doing just that.
First, some coverage on the issue (wrapups of the panel and otherwise, some from the LITA Forum) from around the internet:
- ACRL TechConnect by Nicholas Schiller, one of our panelists
- #libtechgender: your world and mine (Andromeda Yelton)
- Thanks to #libtechwomen (Eric Phetteplace)
- The Digital Shift: Gender in Tech Librarianship (Roy Tennant)
Second, some future plans:
- If you haven’t seen Lisa Rabey’s digital clearinghouse of links, etc. on the issue, go to there. (I’ll wait. )
- Also included on that page is information about LibTechWomen, an informal group started by several wonderful people as a safe space to talk about these issues. While we have an IRC chat room that is open 24/7, we will be starting regular chats on 6 December, hosting them every Friday at 2 PM EST. All are welcome and encouraged to come with an open mind.
- There are plans to host a panel discussion (of which I hope to be part of) in January at the ALA Midwinter Meeting on the matter.
- Lisa proposed a long form version of our panel as a pre conference for Code4Lib 2014.
And because I can’t think of anywhere else to put it, you need to watch this week’s episode of the web series The Brain Scoop, in which host Emily Graslie (a pioneer for STEM education and digital museum education in her own right) reads emails she has received about the show that will break your heart.
And Finally, Some Exciting Professional News
You may know that I have been working with I Need a Library Job since March, as Head Editor of various pages. Earlier this month, our Founder and Supreme Genius**, Naomi House, appointed some Volunteer Coordinators to help with recruiting, retention and (maybe) training the site’s volunteers, and I am one of them (because hey, I don’t have enough as it is to do anyway). Our initial launch has been (mostly) smooth, and it’s given me an insight into a possible new career: recruiting. So if you want to volunteer with INALJ and help people find library jobs, just contact us!
* Although, now that I have certain people from that group that were the biggest bullies blocked on Facebook, or they have blocked me, I’m debating returning, since the space seems safer. Jury still out, though.
** That’s not her real title. I made it up. Though she should get it printed on business cards.