[Libs-Or] A poem for the occasion

Candice Watkins CWatkins at clatsopcc.edu
Wed Jun 11 09:40:53 PDT 2014

Sorry, Shannon, for cluttering the inbox, but I need and want to weigh in here. This discussion is too important to our profession to tuck away. While the language and personal nature of Max’s initial email bothered me, it was successful in sparking introspection on the individual and institutional level.

Let me first share a disturbing incident that happened on my campus last fall. I work in a community college and we have a student-run newspaper. The college mascot is a raccoon, known as the Bandit. In the spirit of trying something new, the student journalists decided, on their own, to start a new question/answer column in the paper – “Question the Coon.” Well, as you can imagine, that was a very ignorant and inappropriate title for the column, and these students had absolutely no historical knowledge for why this was inappropriate. The administration wanted to quickly sweep it under the rug before it gained too much attention in the immediate and greater community. Since I work with the diversity committee on campus, we pushed to use this incident as an educational moment, to perhaps hold a student forum or other gathering in which students, faculty, and staff could learn about history, learn about the power of language, and realize that racism is still alive and active through our daily language and actions. Our diversity group was also silenced – a perfect example of how an “institution” can either silence an educational moment or encourage it through continued discussion.

Although racism is not as blatant as it existed prior to the Civil Rights movement, it’s probably more pervasive than ever, manifesting itself everywhere - in the lack of diversity in children’s literature, in television and other modes of pop culture, in the upper management of companies like the ones that the library industry deals with. MOST of all, it is lacking in our conversations where the tendency is to sweep it away to deal with later.

I have to remind myself every day (and yes, I do) that, as a white, middle-class woman, library director, and incoming president of the Oregon Library Association, I continue to find myself in a position of power and privilege. And with power and privilege comes the responsibility to jump into difficult conversations, to continue difficult conversations, and to work with my colleagues to address how we can improve our profession and honor the people we serve and with whom we work.

I will keep Max’s thoughts in the back of my mind as I go about my work and I hope that you do too. I hope that it serves to fuel good and positive conversations about how we can improve what we do as a library profession. Thanks for entertaining my thoughts!

Candice Watkins
Library Director
Clatsop Community College
(503) 338-2460
cwatkins at clatsopcc.edu

From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Shannon Van Kirk
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 7:46 AM
To: 'Mark KILLE'
Cc: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] A poem for the occasion

While understanding the issues, I make the following plea:

Because this has degenerated to the point where people are being (perhaps inadvertently) offensive to others, inappropriate folderol is being  disseminated, and apologies are being generated, I suggest it is time to take this discussion off list (for those who wish to continue it.

I am on no way suggesting that it is an unworthy topic, but my inbox was FULL of little else this morning.

Yes, I know how to use my delete key, but at this point, perhaps the point has been made?

Just a thought…..

Shannon Van Kirk, Director
Blue Mountain Community College Library
Pendleton, OR 97801
Voice: (541) 278-5916
FAX: (541) 276-6119
<shannon.vankirk at bluecc.edu<mailto:shannon.vankirk at bluecc.edu>>

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Blue Mountain Community College is an Equal Opportunity Employer

From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Mark KILLE
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 12:30 PM
Cc: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us<mailto:libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] A poem for the occasion

I have my own reservations about, basically, using critical race theory (http://spacrs.wordpress.com/what-is-critical-race-theory/) as a deciding factor when evaluating solutions for essential daily library functions. But it's a jerk move to make fun of people who have it incorporated into their professional values. It's certainly a valid way of approaching the Library Bill of Rights' (http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill) insistence that libraries exist to serve *all people of the community*. In any case, dismissing it as unworthy of engagement--as nothing more than a joke--just supports its most basic claims.


Mark Kille
Library Assistant (Information Services)
Multnomah County Library (Hillsdale)
markk at multco.us<mailto:markk at multco.us>

On Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:20 AM, Linda Church <lchurch at cu-portland.edu<mailto:lchurch at cu-portland.edu>> wrote:
Thanks for adding a little levity to the situation – definitely needed.

Linda Church

Director, Art & Culture Program
Concordia University Libraries
t 503-493-6370<tel:503-493-6370>   f 503-280-8697<tel:503-280-8697>
2811 NE Holman Street   Portland, OR 97211

[GRWLLC Email Header_091208 (2)]

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