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The Silverfish is published monthly by the students of the Information School at the University of Washington.

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The Silverfish

April 2003 Special Issue: Diversity

We are pleased to devote this entire issue to showcase the outstanding student papers from the iSchool's second diversity course offered last quarter by Dr. Maurice Green. Due to the length of the papers, we include them here in Adobe Portable Document Format (pdf).

Diversity: A Multifaceted Endeavor by Maurice W. Green, Ph.D.
Latino Communities & Library Services: An Overview by Amanda Hirst
The 21st Century Librarians: Recruitment & Diversity Issues
by Victoria Beatty
Age Discrimination in the Workplace
by Sally McRae.
Recommendations for Improved Library Service to the Blind and Low Vision Community
by Beverly Stuart

The Impenetrable Ceiling: Professional Advancement for Minorities and Women in the Library Profession by Katy Shaw
First Place School: Acquisition of Multicultural Resources by Katie Fearer
Digital Divide in Indian Country: Obstacles and Opportunities for Native American Communities by Summer Hayes
Resources for disabilities awareness by Michael Harkovitch and Heidi Andress

New ALISS Officers and Representatives Announced

Diversity: A Multifaceted Endeavor

Diversity is a topic that is increasingly gaining attention. Indeed, more and more communities and organizations are embarking on initiatives to address the needs and exploit the potential of their increasingly diverse constituency. Many such efforts are still in their infancy, struggling to simply define the term "diversity" in a manner that doesn't offend someone. It never ceases to amaze me the apparent level of discomfort the mere mention of the topic brings to so many.

I advocate a broad working definition. However, I avoid listing its many facets. Inevitably, attempting to compile an exhaustive list that includes everything will leave someone feeling excluded. I do not care to "celebrate diversity," nor do I know exactly what is intended by that phrase. Understand I do not believe that acknowledging the many differences between us will bring us together, initially. Rather, I operate on the premise that understanding the few similarities we share in common will.

Have you ever been subjected to adverse behavior purely because of your affiliation with a particular group? If so, that was wrong and the feeling it causes is sickening. I know because I have been the subject of such behavior. If I honestly feel it was wrong in my case, it must be wrong in the case of another. You see, I'm not referring to black or white, gay or heterosexual, male or female. I'm talking about right and wrong, and not for politically correct reasons.

Relatively recently, The Information School participated in the University of Washington's campus-wide Curriculum Transformation Project geared at improving the education we deliver as an institution. Specifically, the initiative aimed at addressing issues of diversity within campus curricula, or the lack thereof. For our part, The Information School sought to gain insight into the extent to which issues of diversity are covered in our newly transformed school. We have made tremendous strides in new program development and improved course offerings. At the same time, we still have substantial development needs in terms of addressing and integrating diversity issues into those programs and courses. I honestly believe that this is the real challenge and opportunity for us as we move toward a more diverse faculty, staff, and student community, and as we educate the new generation of information professionals.

Once achieved, I believe this will be the single biggest differentiator and sustainable advantage we'll have over peer programs at other institutions. Why? It's so damn hard to do and nobody seems to know how to do it, yet!

As part of an initial work to better address issues of diversity within our curricula we offered the first version of the LIS598 Diversity Seminar during the winter 2002 quarter for 1 credit. An improved second version of the course was offered during the winter 2003 quarter for both 1 and 3 credits to better address the needs of more students. As promised, we have attempted to treat this course as an ongoing work in process through the inclusion of a progressively more diverse set of topics and guest speakers.

During the most recent offering students had an opportunity to become intimately involved with some facet of diversity of their choosing. The resulting projects (e.g., research papers, theme papers, websites, etc.) illustrate the diversity of interest and thought regarding issues of concern.

This special edition of Silverfish is devoted to the student projects that were completed from both sections of the winter 2003 offering of the LIS598 Diversity Seminar. I honestly believe that these projects need to be shared with a more diverse population of The Information School community specifically, and the Library and Information Science community in general. I hope you enjoy the works presented here and find them useful resources.


Maurice W. Green, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The Information School
University of Washington

Latino Communities & Library Services: An Overview
By Amanda Hirst

Earlier this year the United States Census Bureau released its first detailed findings on race and ethnicity from the 2000 Census. The report indicates that Hispanics have replaced blacks as the largest minority group in the United States. It is estimated that "the Hispanic population is now roughly 37 million, while blacks number about 36.2 million" (Clemetson). Acknowledging the migration of Hispanics to various parts of the country, Clemetson goes on to state that the majority "of the Latino population remains concentrated in Texas, California, and New York." In light of these developments, for my final project for LIS 598 - Diversity Seminar, I felt that the issue of public library services to Latino communities deserved exploring... FULL STORY

The 21st Century Librarians: Recruitment & Diversity Issues
By Victoria Beatty

"Those with the Best Stories Win"

Maija Berndtson, director of the Helsinki Public Library has written that "the biggest threat to public libraries is that we fail to attract young people to work in them....Above all, I suggest, the public libraries' future depends on having the right kind of people working there!" And the right kind of people must also have faces that mirror the faces of the diverse communities they serve.

The future is ours to create, Berndtson asserts -- and, in a society where those with the best stories win, librarians "must publicise the quality of their information service, and re-define their libraries' place and importance.

To aid in these efforts, here is a website of collected useful tools for crafting our messages. The site includes 3 sections:

  • Telling Our Story (marketing and publicity materials)
  • Recruitment (career information, recruitment materials, diversity " initiatives)
  • Image Conscious (public image of librarians, stereotypes, humor)

Age Discrimination in the Workplace
By Sally McRae

Age discrimination is something that the average worker knows very little about. Although, anyone who lives to be middle aged will have a good chance of experiencing an age bias act, age discrimination is a non-issue to most people. This attitude is reflected in the literature that is available on the subject. There is very little information about age discrimination. Most of the information is about workers' legal rights and it is accompanied by much advertising of available legal services... FULL STORY

Recommendations for Improved Library Service to the Blind and Low Vision Community
By Beverly Stuart

The aim of this paper is to provide recommendations on how local public libraries may better serve blind and low vision users. In order to provide the appropriate service, it is important to be aware of the information needs of this population, as well has how they have historically sought to meet those needs. In addition to providing access to the necessary materials, the library facilities themselves must be physically accessible for this user group. This paper will examine a few cases of public libraries that have taken steps to make their buildings accessible to blind users. In addition, local services to blind patrons will be addressed, as well as a few national programs. Finally, I will offer a few specific recommendations on various steps the library can take in order to provide better service to the blind and low vision community... FULL STORY

The Impenetrable Ceiling: Professional Advancement for Minorities and Women in the Library Profession
By Katy Shaw

The last few decades have witnessed an increased focus on racial diversity (or the lack thereof) in America's libraries. In an ongoing effort to diversify the workforce of America's libraries, many organizations within the profession have instituted programs designed to encourage multiculturalism. The programs are gradually beginning to work. Although people of color are still woefully underrepresented in the field of librarianship, the numbers for minorities in the library profession are slowly on the rise... FULL STORY

First Place School: Acquisition of Multicultural Resources
By Katie Fearer

First Place is a school in Seattle, Washington for children in families that are homeless or in transition. First Place operates a library, but does not have the resources necessary to purchase books that meet all of the needs of its diverse student body. First Place is not publicly funded, and with the Seattle area's poor economic conditions, donations have been diminishing. As a result, at this time, the library is relying largely on donations of books for collection development. (Harris 2003)

While First Place's collection contains a relatively significant percentage of books focusing on African-American and Hispanic races and cultures, books portraying some of the other ethnic and cultural groups are not as prevalent. Donors often do not choose books about less common cultural or ethnic groups when making donations, but they may be able to donate these resources if presented with a list of titles... FULL STORY

Digital Divide in Indian Country: Obstacles and Opportunities for Native American Communities
By Summer Hayes

During the 17th Century, Europeans first made contact with the native inhabitants of North America. By 1830, the Indian Removal Act was forcing Native Americans in the Eastern portion of the continent to relocate West of the Mississippi River. During the next one hundred years Native Americans continued to lose land rights, and thousands perished from war and disease. "Deculturization" and assimilation projects stripped Native Americans of their language and cultural heritage by removing children from their families for years at a time, forbidding them to speak their language or practice cultural traditions in an effort to conform them to the majority culture.

Rarely has there been a time in American history when Native Americans have enjoyed the same freedoms and advantages of European descendents. Native peoples were not given US citizenship or the right to vote in national elections until 1924. It took some states, including Arizona and New Mexico, an additional twenty-four years to grant voting rights to Native Americans. During the latter part of the 20th Century, the United States began reinstating and passing new laws that granted Native Americans religious freedom and rights to resources on reservation lands.

With such a brief history of egalitarian existence in this country, Native Americans are still struggling on many levels to catch up with the rest of the nation. Unsurprisingly, a high percentage of Native people find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, lacking access to technology and resources that many Americans take for granted... FULL STORY

Resources for disabilities awareness
By Michael Harkovitch and Heidi Andress

This is a resource package for public librarians (children's librarians, specifically) that can be used as a model or framework for programming that features persons with physical disabilities in children's literature... FULL STORY

New ALISS Officers and Representatives Announced

Thanks to everyone who ran and voted for the ALISS officer candidates last quarter.
The new officers and representatives are:

  • Jennifer Carter - President
  • S.J. Alexander - Vice President
  • Alyssa Deutschler - Secretary
  • Linda Corets - Treasurer
  • Amanda Powter - Evening Degree Representative
  • Liesl Seborg - DMLIS Representative
  • Malia Tanji - Alumni Representative

Their term began this quarter. We wish them luck in their new positions.

Michael Harkovitch
Silverfish Senior Editor

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