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Statement from OLA EDI Anti-Racism Special Committee

The following is a statement from the OLA EDI Anti-Racism Special Committee. ACRL-Oregon endorses this statement.

Dear colleagues,

The social events we have witnessed in the past months triggered a series of new statements, training, and resources offered by professionals of different fields and institutions to reaffirm their commitment with Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

At this point, there is no doubt we have all heard of EDI, some of us have noticed these three letters have been misused in articles, statements, documents, policies, guidelines, terms and conditions. Unfortunately this acronym has become the new institutional jargon. The adversities BIPOC and members of minority segments in our society face on a daily basis are not a brand new event, not a trend, and not a tendency.  As such, the OLA EDI Antiracism Committee believes we, as library professionals, need to refrain from using the letters EDI without understanding what each one of these letters represent in its social context.

Let’s not allow the common sense of equality destroy the fight for EQUITY. EQUITY means that we uplift and empower those who have been historically and are currently oppressed by dominant culture. Treating everyone “the same” is a weak and false statement, especially when there are still human beings from different races, classes, gender and individuals with disabilities who are not seen, heard, served, protected, and respected as they deserve. Creating library programs for “all” does not affirm or reiterate your library’s commitment to EDI. Creating programs that uplift and empower folks who have not been seen, heard, protected, and respected as they deserve, does.

Hiring different races, ethnicities, and gender-identity variances, does not show commitment to DIVERSITY, especially, if we still refuse or are hesitant to empower these individuals, if we do not invest in them, if we do not give them opportunities to thrive and advance in their careers. “Diversifying” means applying variation. We need to go above and beyond that definition in order to affirm our commitment with DIVERSITY. When we say we support diversity, we need to reject racist and xenophobic ideas on immigration policies, we need to be comfortable being part of uncomfortable conversations, we need to hear without being defensive, we need to advocate for causes that might even work against your own personal secure position (in the racist structure) to benefit those who are oppressed.

Being “included” is a matter of consideration. INCLUSION is much more than that, it is the duty to evaluate and recognize when laws, processes, terms, conditions and daily reality as a whole need to be audited, adjusted, adapted and sometimes completely changed in order to benefit people who are disadvantaged, even if that means fighting for a benefit in which you will never partake or a right you will never need to exercise.

For those of us excited about this statement, let us not forget, if you are NOT racist, it does not mean you are anti-racist. An anti-racist person will disagree with statements such as “this is not my problem”. An anti-racism advocate, recognizes privilege without feeling victimized or attacked. A person who is anti-racist, will not speak ill or participate in conversations to dismiss, demoralize and demonize other human beings based on their status in this country or the color of their skin. Anti-racist people do not passionately defend themselves stating they are not racists, on the contrary, they take time to examine their own biases and they educate themselves in order to become true allies.

Please understand we are not criticizing anybody’s attempt to be better and do better when it comes to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. We are bringing to your attention that these words need to be used in the right context so they can be as effective as they are meant to be.

We are excited to continue our work on OLA’s behalf to develop resources and tools for the Association, its members, and the Oregon Library community at large that will support EDI and anti-racism work. The committee is actively developing an Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism toolkit. This toolkit is an educational resource that will help guide libraries in reflecting on their institutional practices and policies, and assist in guiding them to move forward. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with the OLA Board and with the Association, and anticipate a long-lasting relationship that will help move Oregon libraries forward with EDI and Anti-racism work.

Sincerely,

OLA EDI Antiracism Special Committee

Interview with Jeopardy! Winner (& Academic Librarian) Veronica Vichit-Vadakan

Academic librarian Veronica Vichit-Vadakan is a jack of all trades. Systems Librarian at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and Part-Time Reference Librarian at WSU Vancouver, Veronica also puts in hours at the NW Film Center and fosters kittens. Mushroom forager, pie aficionado, chocolatier, and overall renaissance woman, this past January, Veronica added another accolade to her repertoire: Jeopardy! Champ. Veronica went on a 4-day winning streak, raking in a whopping $90,001 and charming the nation in the process.

The following interview was originally conducted by Beth Howlett at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and has been edited for length.

Photo of Veronica Vichit-Vadakan with Alex Trebek

Veronica Vichit-Vadakan with Alex Trebek (Photo by Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.)

When did you start being a Jeopardy! fan?

I watched Jeopardy! when it first came back on the air in the 80s in grade school. In high school, I was a total Jeopardy! nerd, I watched every episode, followed along and tracked my answers. We had a teacher in high school who was also a big fan; he would arrange Jeopardy! tournaments every year, and one year I won! That was very exciting, but once I went off to college, I stopped watching. I didn’t watch it for probably 20+ years except for here and there if it happened to be on, but I was not a regular watcher.

What was the qualification process like?

When a friend suggested that I take the test, I hadn’t thought about Jeopardy! in many many years, but I thought, “Sure why not?”  The test is an online test of 50 questions. They do the tests once a year, and that’s it — that’s your opportunity to be on Jeopardy! The questions are a lot like the questions you would see on the show. They don’t tell you how you did and you don’t have to answer in the form of a question for the online test, which is good because you don’t have that much time — you only have 10 seconds for each question.

In between the test and the show there is an audition. The online test happened in January, and then that summer, I heard that I was invited for an audition. Luckily, the auditions were in Portland; they spread them out to different cities across the country and then they change them every year. They try to shift it around so that everyone gets a chance to be close to an audition city. The year that I took the test, just coincidentally, the audition city happened to be Portland. I got the call to audition about 4 months after I took the test.

Once you do the audition, you are in the contestant pool for 18 months — anytime between the time you audition and 18 months they might call you. For me it was about 16 months when they called me. I didn’t think I was going to be on the show and then at the last minute, I was. They give you four weeks notice… that’s enough time to buy a reasonably priced ticket to LA, get things in order to get time off work and stuff like that, but it’s not a ton of time.

How did you prepare for the show?

In between the time that I auditioned and the time that I was on the show, I hadn’t been watching the show for decades and even after I took the online test I still hadn’t really watched the show. So I started watching the show a lot — that’s what you hear again and again, the best way to prepare is to watch the show as much as possible. I started recording it and would play along, track how I was doing, and find my weak points. I used several different flashcard apps.

I was very very nervous when I showed up and I really didn’t feel prepared. I know a lot of people who go on Jeopardy! are serious trivia nerds and they have done bar trivia, College Bowl, all these quizzing tournaments, and I had never done any of that stuff. I don’t think my knowledge depth is that great, especially in comparison to other people on the show. After watching the show intensively for a year, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do that. How do they know these things?”

How many shows did you film in a day?

They only shoot two days a week, but it’s two weeks worth of shows. Five shows were filmed in a day. They do Monday through Friday in a single day, and then the very next day they’ll do another Monday through Friday, and then they take a break. Then they do it all again next week. There is about a 10-minute break between each filming, so it’s pretty fast-paced. If you win a show, they escort you off the stage very quickly. It’s such a whirlwind. They send you back to the dressing room; you have to change your clothes, get your makeup touched up, get your microphone back on, and then they push you back on the stage. That’s as much time as you have between each show. You do get a lunch break between the Wednesday and Thursday [tapings], but it’s a whirlwind. I kept saying I felt like a rag doll, asking myself, “What’s happening?”

How much of a calming presence is Alex Trebek? How did he influence your experience on the show?

Alex Trebek definitely is a very calming presence. We don’t get to spend a lot of time with him as contestants. We interact with him about as much as you see on the show. He comes out, does a little interview, and at the end of the show he’ll come chit chat with the contestants, but that’s about it. But even so, he seems like such a genuinely warm, charming, welcoming person. He’s so good at  putting people at ease. I think it also helps that I see this guy, the guy I’ve seen since I was a little kid, there he is — it was just very familiar.

Was that your jacket in the 5th and final game and if not, did wearing it affect the outcome?

They tell you to bring two changes of clothes so that you have three outfits potentially to wear if you win multiple shows; it was just unlucky for me that the first show [I recorded] had been a “Monday” [the first filming of the day], so I ran through all my clothes by the time I got to the “Friday” shoot. I was in the back dressing room after the “Thursday” show, going through my clothes with a producer, and everything looks the same — there’s no way I could rearrange these clothes to look any different. So the producer just started digging through the closet. I don’t even know where she came up with this jacket, but she pulled out a jacket and said, “I found this in the back of the closet, do you want to try it on? I think it’ll fit you.” And it actually did fit me, which was kind of surprising. I had a little bit of a premonition as I was putting it on that this was going to be bad luck; I’m [wearing] a randomly left behind, lost and found jacket, so I had a thought it might be bad luck. And then I went on and did lose that show! But I shouldn’t blame the blazer. Mostly, I was just really exhausted.

What does the winning streak mean for you? How did the experience impact or change you?

Well first of all, I won a nice amount of money, which I don’t actually have yet — they don’t send out checks until 4 months after the show airs, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. I was talking about doing some work on the backyard, building a catio for my cats.

But actually being on the show… it’s nice to have a little bit of recognition. It’s a pretty low-level fame; people are stopping me on the street to say hey. I’ve heard from friends from college who’ve written me nice messages to congratulate me, and that’s probably my favorite part.

Another really fun part about being on Jeopardy! that I hadn’t really thought of before I went on is that there is this whole community of people who have been on Jeopardy! who communicate with each other, and that’s been really fun. They’re a support group, a group of funny nerds to talk to.

When you went on did you know your episodes would run concurrent with the Greatest of All Time Tournament?

No, they didn’t tell us it was happening; they hadn’t announced it yet. I think they actually shot that tournament a week or two after we were on. I think we suffered a little from the comparison. It was kind of fun because those episodes were on at the same time, and there was kind of a high Jeopardy! awareness.

Is anything different now when you watch the show, having been a contestant and now familiar with both sides of the screen?

When you’re down there, you are with a big pool of contestants because they film two weeks worth of shows. There are a lot of people that ended up being on shows that followed me, so it was exciting [because] after I lost, I didn’t know what happened to all those people that I had met — you know, they’re not allowed to tell me the results of the games. [It was] exciting to watch the shows afterwards and say, “I know all those people!” And then I continued to watch, partly because now I’m more invested in the show. Also, there’s the possibility that I might be in the Tournament of Champions, so I kind of want to keep watching and try and keep training just in case that happens. Whenever I see someone win on a Monday, I think, “Hang in there. You got a long day ahead of you.”

Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?

The one thing that surprised me was the amount of questions that I don’t know the answers to now. I was watching my show, and reading that question, I would think, “I don’t know what that is.” And then I’d watch myself buzzing in, and watch myself answer correctly. I don’t know how that happened. I also saw the opposite where I 100% knew the answer to that question, and I know that November-me knew the answer to that question, too, but I saw myself buzzing with the wrong answer.

If you could design a Jeopardy! category and question, what would it be?

Well, it would probably be food-related. If there was a pie category, I would totally ace that. Okay, I’ve got it: Food in Movies. A category of movies with famous food scenes. I think that would make a great Jeopardy! category.

Veronica is the Systems Librarian at OCOM and Part-Time Reference Librarian at WSU-Vancouver, and recently accepted a position as a Faculty Librarian at PCC Cascade.

COVID-19 Mini-Grant Opportunity

The State Library Board has redirected approximately $100,000 of Oregon’s FFY2019 LSTA allotment from other LSTA projects and programs to be used for COVID-19 response mini-grants. Any legally established public, academic, school, or tribal library in Oregon, as well as special libraries with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in Oregon may apply, and each library may choose which amount best suits their needs from the following: $500, $1,500 or $3,000 – your choice!

Applications will open on Monday, May 4, 2020, first to the following group of eligible entities:

  • Federally recognized tribes, K-12 schools, and special libraries
  • Legally established public libraries with permanent staffing levels up to 5 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (as reported in the 2018-19 Oregon Public Library Statistical Report)
  • Academic libraries at institutions with student FTE enrollment of 1,000 or fewer (based on Fall 2018 enrollment data from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission)

Applications will open for all other libraries on May 13, pending the level of interest we receive from the initial group, and will remain open until all funds have been awarded. The State Library of Oregon has set a goal that at least 40% of total funds awarded will go towards efforts supporting children, K-12 students, and youth services. Grants will otherwise be awarded on a rolling basis, limited to one grant per library/library system, school, or tribe.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, please visit our COVID-19 Response Grants page and find links to contact us with your questions.

2020 Census Participation Will Have Critical Impact on Higher Education

Any librarian that has helped students or faculty access demographic data knows how essential the Census is for many research activities in higher education. But did you know that most federal programs that support higher education institutions, including those funding scholarships, college readiness, and research, rely on accurate Census data to allocate funding? In 2020 Census officials face an even bigger than normal challenge in getting an accurate count, given the distrust of government and concern over privacy in current times.

Academic library staff can help to boost 2020 Census participation among one of the country’s hard-to-count groups, college students. This highly-mobile part of the population is difficult to count because there is often confusion about where they should be counted and who is responsible for counting them.

Campus Census Advertisement

ALA provides a helpful guide that outlines how college students are counted, whether they live on campus, live at home, or rent off-campus. Getting these facts out to students when census participation is being promoted (mid-March through April 2020) is a great way to help insure accurate information is widely available. More outreach materials that explain confidentiality and residency issues are also available.

Partnering with faculty, student groups, or community organizations to host informational events about the Census is also a great way to help promote participation. Along with Census promotional materials, information resources like the Counting for Dollars research provided George Washington Institute of Public Policy or the Hard to Count 2020 map from CUNY’s Center for Urban Research help provide data and context for why Census participation is so important.

Oregon Counts 2020

Oregon-specific resources such as the Oregon 2020 Census Communications Toolkit and #WeCountOregon campaign offer promotional resources and messaging tailored specifically to Oregonians and those in hard-to-count communities throughout the state.

#countonlibraries logo

If you are looking for more promotion ideas or resources, see the State Library’s Census 2020 Resources for Oregon Libraries or Campus Compact’s 2020 Census hub. Aren’t finding what you’re looking for, or want to share a success story? Please let me know!  Arlene Weible, arlene.weible@state.or.us or 503-378-5020.

 

New Undergraduate Research & Writing Studio Opens at Concordia University

The Concordia University Libraries recently opened a new Undergraduate Research and Writing Studio. The new space is located on the first floor of the George R. White Library & Learning Center and will operate by a studio-based learning model, meaning that students can drop in to work on their papers at their own pace with the help of peer tutors. The Studio will still offer some 45-minute appointment sessions as well as online help for distance students. Faculty are also encouraged to reserve the space for their classes.

Photo of Research & Writing Center Ribbon Cutting

At a grand opening event on January 22nd, student tutors, faculty, and staff were on hand to celebrate the new space. Interim President Tom Ries was in attendance, where he remarked on the importance of Concordia University supporting student writing.

Acting Dean of Libraries Nancy Hoover also gave remarks at the event, stating that the reorganization of Concordia’s college structure, which resulted in moving the Writing Center into the library, “created a wonderful opportunity, not only for the co-location of the vital student resources of Research and Writing, but also the formation of a deep collaboration of student focused support.” She also emphasized how the new Studio will “provide strong support for student choice, access, and success” as well as provide opportunities for the Writing Center to collaborate with librarians. Krista Reynolds, Head of Reference & Instruction, also emphasized the opportunities for collaboration. “I’m excited the librarians have the opportunity to join forces with writing services to serve students even more seamlessly and effectively than ever,” she said.

The Studio is meant to be an active learning space. “Studio pedagogy is a different framework for the process of how students learn to be better writers. It engages the process of research as well as the process of generating ideas, drafting, and revision,” Meg Roland, Undergraduate Writing Chair and Director of the Research and Writing Studio shared. “The Reference librarians are here to support the mutually informed process of researching, reading, evaluating, synthesizing, and drafting.” Roland says that the learning model for the Studio will incorporate practices found at other Northwest universities like Oregon State and Western Washington that have a studio-based learning model to support research and writing.

A Response to “Yes but…”

The following is a letter from Candise Branum, ACRL-Oregon President

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the ACRL-Washington/Oregon Joint Conference at Pack Forest. The conference theme was Whiteness and Racism in Academic Libraries: Dismantling Structures of Oppression; I’ll write a separate review of my experiences at the conference in another article, but I left the conference feeling like I had some specific tools to confront microaggressions in the workplace and a bit more hopeful about the possibility of change in academic library culture.

And then less than a week later, the latest issue of OLA Quarterly was delivered to my inbox. The closing article, Yes, but… One Librarian’s Thoughts on Doing It Right was extremely disturbing; as many of our colleagues have already pointed out, the article diminishes the work, experiences, and knowledge that women of color provide in leading discussions of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI), and instead centers the author’s own experience as a white woman as the “right way” to do this work. This is an inflammatory article, in which the author specifically names and critiques BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) scholars and allies for intentionally making white people feel bad and uninformed.

There is no excuse for this. We need to do better.

White librarians have to reckon with both our institutional and our own individual roles in white supremacy. Hosting White Nationalist groups explicitly puts the safety of our communities at risk; this is not a question of intellectual freedom, but of ensuring that our communities literally are not in fear for their well-being. As allies, white librarians must be the ones to step up and do the emotional labor of working towards racial justice, and not just waiting for our BIPOC colleagues to point out injustices; if we are passive or neutral, we are inherently supporting the racist, white supremacist status quo. There is no getting over this: the culture will not change unless white librarians force a change.

Since returning from Pack Forest, I’ve been doing some soul searching about my role in disrupting whiteness in both my personal life and my professional one. I’d like to explore how ACRL-Oregon as a body can propel the conversation forward in a community-driven and constructive way, and to build a network of librarians unified in doing work (not just making statements) towards racial justice. I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I do still have hope that our community will continue to grow together, and that we can work together in confronting white supremacy in our profession.

Some additional reading:

Candise Barnum
ACRL-Oregon President, 2019-2020

2018-19 Annual Report to the Membership by Meredith Farkas, ACRL-Oregon President

As I prepare to step down at the end of my year as President of ACRL-Oregon, I wanted to share with you some of the terrific work our Board has done this past academic year. 

In October 2018, we held another successful ACRL-OR/WA Conference at Menucha. The theme was focused on “Reimagining Advocacy: Personal, Professional, Political” and one of the highlights of the conference was OLA lobbyist Amanda Dalton’s presentation on how to develop a convincing elevator pitch. We hope to see many of you at this year’s ACRL-OR/WA Conference at Pack Forest which is focused on another very important topic: “Whiteness and Racism in Academic Libraries: Dismantling Structures of Oppression.” We are currently seeking ideas for the 2020 conference theme — please fill out our survey!

When I decided to run for ACRL-Oregon President-Elect, I really wanted to explore the possibility of offering webinars. Plenty of people working in academic libraries have little or no access to professional development funding and I wanted our organization to offer professional development that is accessible to every academic library worker in the state regardless of membership status. I also know that we have a lot of talent and wisdom across the state and I’m hoping this will give people opportunities to present that they may not have otherwise had (if you’re interested, please fill out our proposal form!). We offered three pilot webinars in the Winter and Spring of 2019 and will start our official webinar schedule on September 13th at 10am with a presentation entitled “Data Visualization: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How.” Please register if you’re interested; it’s free to members and non-members alike. Getting this program off the ground was definitely a passion project for me and my partners-in-crime on the project (Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy from OIT, Katherine Donaldson from UO, Sarah Rowland from EOU, and Candise Branum from OCOM) and I hope you find it valuable.

ACRL-Oregon offers a number of scholarships every year, including professional development scholarships, scholarships to the ACRL-OR/WA Fall Conference, and funding to support a collaborative project between K-12 and academic library workers. The latter was awarded this year to librarians at Eastern Oregon University and library and instructional staff at the North Powder School District to support the development of information literacy instructional strategies for students at the high school. A full report of their activities can be found on our blog. 

One area that is nearly impossible to plan for is advocacy, and this was a big year for the Board in terms of advocacy work. After we heard reports about the racist incidents at ALA Midwinter, we felt compelled to write a statement of concern to ACRL encouraging them to address the issues and suggesting anti-bias and bystander training for staff and volunteer leaders. When we learned that the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) had a draft revision of their standards that significantly pared down the library section and removed any language about academic freedom, we took action. In our letter to NWCCU, we advocated for the importance and value of academic libraries and library personnel to student learning as well as the importance of a robust support of academic freedom. We also worked with various state and regional membership organizations, colleges, and universities to coordinate advocacy efforts. They have since added in additional verbiage about the critical human resources in our libraries and added back in the section on academic freedom. The ACRL-OR Board provided written testimony in favor of Oregon HB 3263 which supported school librarians in Oregon. We also encouraged our members to advocate in support of two bills regarding Open Educational Resources (one of which was successful). Finally, our fantastic ACRL-OR Legislative Representative, Kim Olson-Charles from Concordia University served as Oregon’s representative at National Library Legislative Day this year.

Another big project we took on this year was documenting all of the different roles people play on the ACRL-Oregon Board, so if you decide to serve on the Board in the future, you’ll have a clear sense of what each volunteer position entails along with useful tips from people who have had the role in the past. 

It has been an honor and a pleasure leading ACRL-Oregon’s work this year. I can’t recommend highly enough service on the ACRL-Oregon Board; it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know other fantastic and committed library workers in Oregon and to help support librarianship across the state. It has definitely been one of the most fulfilling service opportunities I’ve taken on. I look forward to supporting Candise Branum, your incoming-President, this year in my role as Past-President. If you have any questions about the Board’s activities or what it’s like to serve on the ACRL-Oregon Board, please get in touch (meredith.farkas@pcc.edu)!

Reflections on Libraries – Pierina (Perri) Parise

Photo of Perri Parise

Perri Parise, Director, Emporia State University Library and Information Management, Portland Program

When people find out I am retiring after almost 50 years in the library profession, they often remark that I must have seen a lot of changes over the years. But as I reflect back, I have to admit that although on the surface libraries today indeed appear very different, I think that the foundation I was lucky enough to have received has supported me through the seeming changes.

The formats of the materials we provide have certainly evolved, although newer formats do not necessarily replace older formats. The challenge of access is an enormous issue as technologies change, but I think that access was also an issue when libraries were buildings fixed in place and not necessarily available to all segments of a community, or they housed materials that were not relevant or accessible to the needs of all in a community.

I entered the profession at a time when most libraries probably functioned in the traditional, stereotypical sense of libraries – quiet places, full of books, usually supporting a white middle-class American value system. However, I was very fortunate to have been part of a federally funded program in library school that was called, “Cross-cultural Training in Librarianship: The Librarian in a Pluralistic Society,” which focused on underserved populations.

Through that library school program and a stint in the Peace Corps in Fiji where their public library system was *the* center of the community and an integral part of everything that went on in that town, I began my career understanding what a dynamic library can mean to a community. I took those experiences with me as a core value, no matter where I worked or what type of position I held.

Now more than ever, we need to justify our existence everyday by the proactive work we do to make sure there is no doubt how important we are to those we serve.  What I appreciate so much today is the call for advocacy and social action within the profession.  But I do worry about how polarized our society has become, and I see this sometimes within the library field, also.  How can we advocate without alienating the “other side?”  How do encourage engagement and empathy?  How do we assert our ideals, but at the same time truly listen?

Time-sensitive Advocacy by Tues, 3/26

Dear members,

On Wednesday, March 27, the House Education Committee will vote to send HB 2213 and HB 2214 to the Joint Ways & Means Committee. These bills support open education and affordable textbooks in higher ed.

The committee members need to know that their constituents care about this issue. If you are represented by one of the committee members listed below, will you please email, call, or visit with this message (sample included)?

Find out who represents you: https://bit.ly/1zqJ5pm

HB 2213 would require each of Oregon’s 24 public colleges and universities to create a textbook affordability plan.

HB 2214 continues to fund Oregon’s textbook affordability and open education program, which includes offering grants to faculty who redesign their courses to include open educational resources.

Thank you, and please feel free to share this message!

*****

Chair: Rep Doherty, Democrat – District 35 – Tigard

Vice Chair: Rep Alonso León, Democrat – District 22 – Woodburn

Vice Chair: Cheri Helt, Republican – District 54 – Bend

Rep Hernandez, Democrat – District 47 – Portland

Rep Neron, Democrat – District 26 – Aloha, Beaverton, Hillsboro, King City, Sherwood, Tigard, Wilsonville

Rep Reardon, Democrat – District 48 – Happy Valley

Rep Reschke, Republican – District 56 – Klamath Falls

Rep Sollman, Democrat – District 30 – Hillsboro

Rep Wallan, Republican – District 6 – Medford

*****

Dear Representative _______,

The high cost of textbooks is a barrier to Oregon students completing their college or university degree. HB 2214 continues to fund textbook affordability and open education in Oregon through a program that has a track record of helping students save millions of dollars on textbooks. Can I count on your support for HB 2214 when it is scheduled for a work session?

Please let me know if there are any questions I can answer about this bill.

Thank you,

[constituent name]

Advocacy around proposed changes to the NWCCU Standards for Accreditation

Some of you may be following the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accreditation standards revision process. They published a First Draft of the revised accreditation standards in which the standards overall have been pared down considerably. The library community is concerned that in the revised draft, the library is only mentioned in relation to collections, and information literacy is only mentioned as one of several examples of potential core competencies set at the institution level. We want to make sure that information literacy instruction and a requirement to employ qualified personnel remain in the standards. We are also concerned about the removal of any language about Academic Freedom, a critical element of intellectual freedom in higher education. The current NWCCU Standards are available for comparison.

The ACRL-Oregon Board has shared our concerns and suggestions with NWCCU. You can read our letter here and also at the bottom of this post. Please feel free to share it with others and you are welcome to use our suggestions in your own advocacy.

Nearly this exact same thing happened in New England several years ago with the NEASC accreditation standards and librarians had to mount a significant advocacy campaign to keep information literacy and libraries in the standards. Here are a few ways that you can help support library presence and values in the revised standards.

  1. Ask your institution’s Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) to advocate for libraries and academic freedom. The ALO is the individual at your college or university who is responsible for working with NWCCU on accreditation. It’s often a Provost or Vice President of Academic Affairs, but the institution can designate who they wish. Advocacy from an ALO will be very influential. Please feel free to share our letter with your ALO.
  2. Comment on the current draft. There is a form you can use to provide feedback or you can send your comments to standards@nwccu.org.
  3. Spread the word! Get others — librarians, non-librarians, and organizations that have an interest in this — involved in advocacy. Librarians are not the only ones who should be concerned by these proposed changes.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Meredith Farkas
ACRL-Oregon President

______________________________________

Dear Drs. Huftalin and Powell and members of the NWCCU Bylaws, Standards, and Policies Committee:

The Association of College and Research Libraries, Oregon Chapter (ACRL-Oregon) Board is pleased to provide feedback on the current draft of NWCCU’s Accreditation Standards. Accreditation standards provide critical guidance to colleges and universities about what a successful institution should provide to students. Library resources, services, and personnel are critical components of institutional quality. By evaluating academic libraries merely on the adequacy of their information resources, NWCCU sends a message that libraries’ instructional work in support of student and faculty information literacy is not critical to maintaining a high quality institution of higher education.

We assert that collections, information resources, and information literacy instruction require the expertise of library and information professionals for both instruction and resource development and management. It is because of the dedicated work and teaching of qualified library faculty and staff that academic libraries are at the heart of their campuses. Librarians are frequent information literacy teaching partners with disciplinary faculty and are often embedded in courses, curricula, and campus initiatives. Library instruction is not only critical to improving student information literacy and mitigating achievement gaps, but also helps institutions maximize the value of those collections in which they’ve invested.

ACRL-Oregon suggests the following addition to section 2G, focused on Library and Information Resources:

2.G.2 Consistent with its mission, programs, services, and characteristics, the institution employs sufficient appropriately qualified library and information resources personnel to provide information literacy instruction in support of institutional student learning outcomes.

If standards around library instruction are softened, we will very likely see a decline in institutional support for these services. The removal of any mention of qualified library personnel or library instruction from the Standards could have a tremendously negative impact on library staffing and student information literacy.

We also believe that librarians should continue to serve on NWCCU accreditation review teams. Librarians are best positioned to evaluate the adequacy of library resources, personnel, and instruction, and also often have a unique birds-eye view of academic curricula as a consequence of their support of college or university disciplines.

The ACRL-Oregon Board is also deeply concerned about the proposed removal of the entire section of the current standards focused on academic freedom. Academic freedom is a bedrock principle for higher education. This principle is under attack on many fronts in the U.S today. The removal of any reference to academic freedom in the NWCCU accreditation standards removes an important and vital defense of this core principle. As such, ACRL-OR suggests the following addition to the draft standards:

2.B.5 Within the context of its mission, the institution defines and actively promotes an environment that supports academic freedom in the pursuit, dissemination, and teaching of knowledge. The institution adopts and adheres to policies and procedures that affirm the freedom of faculty, staff, administrators, and students to share their scholarship and reasoned conclusions with others, and protects its constituencies from inappropriate internal and external influences, pressures, and harassment.

Thank you for considering our suggestions.

Sincerely,

The Association of College and Research Libraries, Oregon Board

Meredith Farkas, ACRL-Oregon President, Portland Community College
Candise Branum, ACRL-Oregon Vice-President, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
Steve Silver, ACRL-Oregon Past-President, Northwest Christian University
Angie Beiriger, Reed College
Kim Olson-Charles, Concordia University
Arlene Weible, State Library of Oregon
Rick Ball, Klamath Community College
Christopher Mansayon, Western Oregon University
Patrick Wohlmut, Linfield College
Katherine Donaldson, University of Oregon
Sarah Rowland, Eastern Oregon University
Janet Tapper, University of Western States
Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy, Oregon Institute of Technology