I loved this lecture because Jasmine talked about her efforts to kind of infiltrate the curriculum with these topics. I think it’s so important for us to do that, especially at institutions or in majors where there’s a traditional STEAM focus, because so many of those classes/instructors just do not have any room for or interest in exploring the social aspects of what they’re teaching. At Olin, a group of students led by a few professors, one of whom used to work on Facebook News (but left after understandable disillusionment) are pushing to incorporate what they’re calling “context & ethics” into every class. Some of the faculty are getting on board with that much more readily than others, but where it’s happening, it’s been great to see.
I’m trying to be as supportive as I can be for these efforts as well, though we have a very irritating staff/faculty divide that makes efforts like this harder than they should be (and I expect many of us are in that boat, even if y’all have faculty status). But even despite that, I’m finding my little ways to break in - working with our Public Interest Technology club to lead a book group (we just read Parable of the Sower and before it, Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology), doing campus-wide reads of books like How to Do Nothing, specifically developing our collection in these directions and creating displays, etc.
Anyway, I think one of the most important things for library workers to keep firmly in mind right now is the need to educate our peers and keep pushing them on issues like health surveillance, where there is both an ethical and a job creep impact. On our statewide listserv, there was talk of helping with contact tracing because “libraries are perfectly suited for it.” What does that mean, exactly? Exactly what makes us “perfectly suited” to do this work? And what are the ramifications of that?
Our profession should be better suited to this work than many, as we are with valuing privacy protection in general, but I personally encounter regular resistance to upholding privacy vs. convenience in the field. Has anyone else found themselves running into this challenge? What has helped you push back on it?