By Winifred King
The first panel discussion at the ACRL/NY 2016 Symposium was entitled “Power, Standards, and Library Instruction” and was moderated by Gina Levitan.
In their presentation, “Teaching with Data: Visualization and Information as a Critical Process”, Jill Conte and Andrew Battista (New York University) addressed data literacy. Their LibGuide lesson created for first year undergrads, highlighted how data statistics of rape across the United States can be easily misconstrued. They emphasized that working with data is difficult, as it can be treated as superior evidence. Conte and Battista argued that data is considered as an unbiased representation of truth and not a social artifact. Furthermore, data collection happens in context and therefore is rhetorical. A number of critical questions were posed in the lesson: Who made the map? Who is the audience? Where is the source of the data? What information is on the map? What is missing?
The second presentation, “Instruction Standards and Professional Power”, by Emily Drabinski (Long Island University – Brooklyn), discussed how librarians can leverage the institutional power that standards produce while resisting the tendency to homogenize teaching and learning. Data measurements allow us to see if we are achieving our goals as professionals. Standards create order, produce professional identities, help us articulate claims for resources, connect us to other people who use standards, and pull-standards and resources towards the standard makers. Drabinski indicated that being part of the body that creates professional standards gives professional power that we as librarians can use.
Shannon Simpson (Johns Hopkins University) gave the third and final panel presentation, “Displacing the Neutral Classroom”. Using concrete examples from the TILE project (The Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments) developed at Johns Hopkins University, Simpson discussed ways in which librarians can address assumptions and elevate the conversations in classrooms and on our campuses. Suggestions that came out of the toolkit for creating inclusive classrooms included examining assumptions as well as learning and using names and pronouns. In addition, Simpson advocated locating, creating, soliciting, and publishing multiple and diverse examples, as well as asking what perspectives are missing in classroom discussions.
Simpson also discussed the findings of the Student Debt Survey, including the small percentage of total scholarships reported that went to minority LIS students, and noted that many myths surround “what we tells students about scholarships versus what actually happens.”
Winifred King is Web Services Librarian at the D. Samuel Gottesman Library, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.