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Thursday, June 20 • 10:45am - 12:15pm
Enabling Inclusive Online Spaces

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Online spaces are today's public square. From twitter to listservs to chatstreams, users gather in these spaces to find their peers and to enter into new professional and personal realms. But the dynamics in these communities can also discourage people from participating, especially if they are from underrepresented groups. An insistence on free speech, long valued by internet denizens, is often used as a cover for abusive language. And the anonymous, instantaneous dynamics of digital communication let some feel that they can say anything without repercussions. This participatory session is driven by recent kerfuffles in rare materials spaces that have emphasized the importance of creating inclusive discussion spaces for topics central to our profession. But it also recognizes that as more library outreach takes place in digital spaces, the more important it is that those spaces present a field that is open and receptive to diverse members. Those inclusive spaces don't happen magically, but through careful nurturing of community norms. The session will begin with the moderators giving some short comments to help frame the group's conversations. Melissa Hubbard will help situate the discussion within the framework of professional ethics. Sarah Werner would bring in some of the tools of feminist pedagogy as a way of understanding conversational dynamics. Curtis Small will offer a perspective from the RBMS Diversity Committee. The bulk of the session will focus on small-group conversations to generate ideas about how to enable inclusive online spaces. Coming up with specific tactics will be urged, so that the group can collectively build a resource we can all draw on. The process of our discussion will serve as a model for inclusive behavior that encourages broad participation.


Melissa Hubbard

University of Buffalo

Curtis Small

Senior Assistant Librarian, University of Delware Library, Museums and Press
Coordinator of Public Services for the Special Collections department of University of Delaware Library. A project member of Colored Conventions, a digital humanities project based at University of Delaware..

Thursday June 20, 2019 10:45am - 12:15pm EDT
University Ballroom 3-4