Tag Archives: DIY

project scope

7 Dec

In addition to all of that lovely reading, I’ll also be doing a four-credit project.

I originally wanted some way to think about continuing professional development (particularly training new technologies/information technology) for mid-career librarians, operating under the assumption of a knowledge gap, and was approaching this problem through the feminist/community/zine/DIY tradition.

Thinking about it more, I think what’s more interesting than “fixing” a knowledge gap would be first, ascertaining whether one exists, and second, thinking about how knowledge is acknowledged in professional environments.

So, in some ways, I’m not sure where this project will go. I was excited about the idea of actually producing something – a graphic tutorial, I guess – about not just how particular resources can be used, but also about how to re-frame conversations about technology so that they aren’t conducted in fear and uncertainty (and with the associated jargon and gaslighting that too often happens). I was talking to a friend who works as a librarian at the AADL who mentioned that mid-career librarians with whom he works are often apprehensive about calling tech services — which is odd, I think, because librarians produce a culture where asking questions is okay, encouraged, and the reference interview is all about making people understand that they’re not stupid for not knowing this already. So, I was thinking about producing some sort of material that helps de-mystify the tech training process — maybe thinking about tech support the way one thinks about a reference interview.

And again, I assume a knowledge deficit. I think that the first order of business is to do some research, both within the professional literature and talking to persons who think about this regularly (professional librarians) to see what the state of mid-career professional development is, what people really know and what they’re presenting to their communities, and where the need lies.

Regardless of my findings, I’m not convinced that there isn’t a place for conceptualizing what continued professional development for librarians would look like — there are two models that I’m grappling with, here. First is the university extension service model, by which these people would be sitting in the same bullshit classes that I find myself in (although, hopefully, they wouldn’t be infantilized to the same degree that we are, and I certainly hope it wouldn’t operate under the same usurious tuition model). Writing a “fantasy” proposal of how my school could reach out to the rest of the state could be an interesting exercise and culmination of my research.

The other approach would be the zine/DIY model, which honestly sounds like a lot more fun but would sort of do different work. I would need to do quite a bit of research about how this kind of community learning happens, and what makes for an effective guide. There’s also the problem of not providing the same credentialing mechanism. I firmly believe that a funny, smart, clear piece of literature could have taught me more about professional searching than fourteen weeks in a classroom did, but my classroom experience is what makes me ALA accredited.

This is where, I hope, my reading projects will dovetail nicely into this project — I want to understand how people demonstrate knowledge, how (if!) they’re rewarded for it, and how this works across professions and race and gender lines.


[explicitly] gendered education

13 Nov

Popular Mechanics, a periodical certainly marketed to men, has produced a DIY guide called “25 Skills Every Man Should Know.” Yes, the idea that these skills are in the exclusive domain of men is irksome (and persistent… I remember as a teenager asking my dad how to change a tire and being given an AAA membership instead), but I’ll let that go for the moment, especially since the comments seem to be covering the same ground that I would.

What’s interesting here is that it’s kind of a crappy DIY guide. There’s no real glossary (what’s an o-ring? beats me), the illustrations are only sometimes diagrams and the diagrams are only sometimes useful, and there’s no “what to do if this doesn’t seem to be working” section. There’s also no “here’s how to not kill yourself while you’re doing this” section, which seems a grave oversight.

Many modes of learning are gendered — I wonder, though, how women would approach this kind of guide. I look at it and think “uh, I doubt I’ll remember any of this in any real way the next time I need to start a fire.” The medium is ineffective, it doesn’t provide enough back-up information, and there’s no binding logic to the kinds of skills included. And, honestly, the explicit gendering leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s less that I’ve somehow gotten the message that these skills aren’t for me, and more that I don’t want to spend any more time on the unwelcoming website.