I realized earlier this week that I’ve hit my two-year anniversary of writing for the Hot Topics column. Huzzah! I couldn’t be more grateful to the stellar crew at Against the Grain for allowing me to keep peppering their weekly news with my musings on libraries, publishing, literature, shipwrecks, and other sundries. The only shadow over this occasion is this infernal head cold I’ve developed this week! Don’t get me wrong, I love the close-knit connections I’ve made with my colleagues here in the library and on campus, but the joy of sharing should not extend to germs.
I’ll keep things brief this week so as not to leak too much of my Nyquil brain fog. Did anyone else see the latest “Keeping up with…” from ACRL? I read these with varying levels of interest, but this one struck home. Keeping Up With…Culturally Responsive Teaching provides a buffet of food for thought on how librarians can prepare for an increasingly diverse student body in the coming years. As both a librarian and active member of our college’s Diversity Council, I find myself wondering how culturally relevant my pedagogy and instructional methodology is, and where it has the potential to go. Fostering diversity and inclusion in the classroom over the course of an entire semester is one thing, but infusing it into a one-shot library instruction session poses unique challenges. At this point, I have more questions than answers, but I agree wholeheartedly with the authors’ closing sentiments: “As the ‘centers of campus’ which serve all students, staff, and faculty, and by incorporating culturally-responsive teaching through our instruction, our collections, and our programming, academic libraries can have a significant impact on supporting diversity and student success at our institutions.”
I’d love to hear more from librarians who are involved in or leading efforts to enhance cultural fluency in library instruction, collections, programming, etc. What are you already doing in your campus community? What do you hope to do more of in the future? Do you collaborate with other groups/organizations/councils on campus that bring the library into conversations surrounding the changing population of higher education? Do you see the library as a potential leader of social justice movements?
Thank you, faithful readers, for your insight and support these past two years. Here’s to many more!
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.