I had the opportunity to present at the 2017 Mass Library Association with two other librarians, looking at disability representation in library collections and libraries themselves. I originally put out a call for co-panelists mid-206 looking for others interested in the same topic to the statewide mailing list and got very little response. Fortunately, the two that replied were fantastic and I took their areas of interest and experience, combined them with my own, and was able to construct a proposal to submit.
Disability on the Shelf: Going beyond Large Print
When providing library services how often do we think about accessibility beyond the physical? When looking at our collections with an eye to diversity do we remember disability?
Let's explore the challenges and opportunities in finding positive representation, and take a look at tropes and stereotypes, controversy over lauded titles, ableism in the library, and helping patrons of all ages and abilities find characters and stories they can connect to.
Presenting at professional conferences is a completely different creature than conventions. There's a seriousness and formality that often makes it hard to tell how the audience feels about the subject, as well as a lack of organic discussion between panelists. Not to knock the fantastic courtesy of the audience, but I like to evoke a reaction, even if it's a crack about hoping it's too soon to spoil that Luke loses a hand in The Empire Strikes Back. I like making a connection with the audience, and it makes it fun.
Once we opened up the floor to questions the audience continued to be wonderful, bringing up insightful comments and questions, even if sadly we didn't have the answer for all of them. What really stood out was that the audience clearly took something from the presentation and wanted to continue the dialog, which was one of our goals.
If you're interested, copies of our presentation documents are hosted as PDFs on the MLA website:
As of today I still have a few resources I need to add to my own Resources page, but life and work keep me rather busy.
I also want to share the feedback emailed to me that caused me to happy cry at work.
"I really found your presentation on Tuesday to be meaningful. Of all the programs at conference I attended I've found myself returning to yours most frequently as I think about lasting impact"
I'm still bowled over by that. When I told my boss she said "That's amazing, you should put it on your resume. Wait, no. You're not allowed to update your resume." It looks like I may also be doing staff workshops in the new fiscal year on this topic.