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  • December 05, 2022 8:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a common occurrence as the winter months bring longer hours of darkness, please be mindful of the mental health of friends and coworkers. Suicide is more prevalent in the months with lots of holidays. With that in mind, and a focus on inclusion, there are a few resources that can be beneficial for everyone to know about.

    The QPR Institute reminds people to Question, Persuade and Refer.

    Mental Health First Aid uses ALGEE...

    • Assess – what is the risk factor. Like with Question above, ask if they are considering suicide. Ask if they have a plan. You won’t be giving them ideas by talking about it! You will be able to determine if there is a risk in place though.
    • Listen – this must be non-judgmentally. Saying “I understand” or “that must be hard” is fine. Never say “just get over it” or “that’s not how it really is, you know.
    • Give – reassurance. “You’re not alone,” “I’m here for you,” “is there anything I can do to help?” are all great responses.
    • Encourage – professional help. Most of us don’t have the training to handle big and deep emotions like this in other people. Let them know about resources, help them find sources that match their budget and time constraints.
    • Encourage – self help. Ask what helps them feel better. This can be favorite music, movies, etc. Or it could be a comfort bag they carry with them. This is a small bag that fits in a pocket and carries items like a rock to fidget with, a piece of material they like the sensation of, a little note they write with an affirmation, or a note from a friend that makes them feel good!

    If you are in need of help and don’t know where to turn, you can start by calling #988, the suicide prevention number.

    Don’t forget you have a team of librarians across NDLA that are here for you!


  • August 17, 2022 2:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Karlene Clark, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota
    EDI Committee Chair

    There are many invisible matters our patrons can deal with – anything from a physical matter, like arthritis or breathing problems, to mental matters such as PTSD (post-traumatic syndrome disorder). PTSD can be caused by any event that was life threatening or highly traumatic. It can cause fear, anger, avoidance of external reminders, and more.

    A great book recommendation is A Trauma-Informed Approach to Library Services by Rebecca Tolley (ALA Editions, 2020). This issue, I’d like to include a few quotes and thoughts from the book that address understanding trauma:

    • It crosses all demographic markers.
    • Chronic stress trains a person to be on constant high alert, which affects the ability to seek out and understand information. This can lead to patrons feeling awkward, vulnerable, or inadequate when entering libraries.
    • “Everyone, including workers, community members, and visitors, should feel physically, psychologically, and culturally safe.” (p 47) “Psychological safety is comprised by a range of behaviors that includes sarcasm, condescension, public humiliation, negative tones of voice and body language, inconsistent rules, procedures and policies, favoritism, infantilizing, gaslighting, shaming, and blaming, among others. People who grew up around these behaviors as part of their [childhood experiences] are easily triggered by exposure to them” (p 51). While the author speaks about childhood, PTSD, anxiety, and other psychological conditions can form at any point in a person’s life. The individual person will do what they can to protect themselves, but as librarians, we can set them up for success in our buildings. Instead of using the thought process of “treat others as I would want to be treated,” we need to shift that thinking to “treat others the way THEY would like to be treated. The author gives the example of someone having lost a parent – if we suddenly walk away from them during a visit, they may be triggered and feel a sense of loss, or that you, too, won’t come back.
    • “Our lack of awareness and empathy [for the three safety factors listed above] can result in miscommunication on our part, feeling misunderstood on their part, and all individuals left stymied and possibly re-traumatized.” (p 21)
    • “Safety and trust are not the same… Transparency engenders trust.” (p 61).

    The book covers much more than the brief mentions here. It’s an easy read and wraps up with another important section: self-care for the librarians!

    We all deal with traumas on some level. Some stay with us; some are for a time only. The section that discuss cultural safety in the book was also eye opening for me. Listening to what others need and watching their reactions to our interactions, and being kind to ourselves and each other goes a long way in starting the process to being trauma-informed. While focused on medical care, this 3 minute video further explains some of the side effects of trauma, along with other causes.

  • May 26, 2022 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Karlene Clark, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota
    EDI Committee Chair

    Cross-Cultural Communication can lead to unintentional misunderstandings and are caused by inadequate cultural knowledge and the lack of intercultural communicative skills. So, here are some tips to raise your awareness!

    Communication encompasses both verbal and nonverbal situations. Common barriers to cross-cultural communication are language, ethnocentrism and conflicting values, stereotyping, psychological barriers (attention, premature evaluation or retention) or emotional display (such as anxiety and uncertainty), and geographical distance. For example, those that operate under “Midwest-nice” might see east-coasters as rude while those from the east may have an aversion to the common personality perceptions of west-coasters as flaky and laidback to an extreme.

    Nonverbal signals often weigh more in how a person interprets and accepts/rejects incoming messages Nonverbal communication can include the following: eye contact, distance between the speakers, facial expressions, touch, sitting positions, gestures or head movements. Adequate training in cross cultural communication and exposure to other cultures is essential in eliminating these barriers. By working to understand differences, not only around the world but within the US itself, we can help eliminate frustrations we may not have thought about before. The linked video is a presentation I contributed to during my MLIS. It is shared with permission of my teammates.


  • March 08, 2022 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    by Karlene Clark, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota
    EDI Committee Chair

    Accessibility is a large part of diversity and is part of the attitude of service provided by libraries. Many locations have accessible bathrooms and elevators, but now it’s time to consider other design needs. Universal Design takes us from making as-needed accessibility adjustments, to thinking proactively on what can be done in spaces to better serve how people negotiate life with a disability. Moving from reactive to proactive planning will make it easier for everyone to utilize a space!

    A few design point that your library could consider:

    • Visual distractors - Create a space with little visual stimulation. This can be as simple as not having to see multiple people walking by. Consider mobile whiteboards, if a more permanent setup is not an option.
    • Auditory dampening – If private study rooms are not available, noise cancelling headphones or “tulip” chairs are a few ways to help those that need a quieter space.
    • Tech assistance - Screen reader software is one example
    • Often overlooked mobility needs - Sit-to-stand and/or wheelchair workstations

    The goal of Universal Design is inclusivity of all people in the same space with access and ability to use the same items with equitable ease. A nice summary of how Universal Design works can be seen at “Meet the Normals”.


  • December 15, 2021 4:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Karlene Clark, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota
    EDI Committee Chair

    Micro-aggressions have been compared to the phrase “death by a thousand cuts.” These are compliments that are, in most cases, unintentionally offensive. They lead to the recipient dealing with a form of “battle fatigue” (a trauma response) where going to work feels like preparing for battle and needing to be prepared to face these comments throughout the organization. The words or actions directed at the person are not policy violation, but they do erode the sense of self and value over time. This can interrupt or cancel a person’s desire and excitement about coming in to work.

    Trauma responses do not affect a single group of people. When we don’t understand or perpetuate old biases or behaviors, we can inadvertently add to a person’s sense of being attacked. This can relate to groups such as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, being female (or male), being differently abled, having an invisible illness and more.

    What can this look like? A few examples to consider:

    • “I love your hair; can I touch it?” Often directed towards BIPOC. Consider if you would ask others you know this same question. Saying you like someone’s hairstyle is okay; asking to touch is not.
    • “You’re so articulate” / “Your English is so good.” Again, this is often said to members of the BIPOC communities. Consider what bias your thinking is coming from in assuming they would not be able to speak well.
    • “You guys.” Members of the LGBTQ+ community – and many others these days - are conscientious about pronouns and the usage of them. Grouping everyone together as a “guy” can be seen as insulting, derogatory, or degrading. Consider instead using something like “You all” or “Everyone.”
    • “You’re such an inspiration” to someone who is disabled – visible or invisible. They are just going through life, doing the best they can in most cases with no intention of being a beacon to look to. Unless they are a motivational speaker, doing a presentation on the topic, consider instead SAYING NOTHING.
    • “That’s crazy” or “I’m being so OCD” when you are not diagnosed as such. Neurodivergent people are very aware of their differences and hearing things such as this strikes deeply. Instead, consider the following options:
      • It’s crazy in here” can change to “It’s really busy today.”
      • That’s a crazy idea” can change to “I haven’t heard an idea like that before.”
      • My boss is crazy” can change to “I don’t understand what they were thinking.”
      • I’m being so OCD” can change to “I just feel like I need more order in my life right now.”

    How do we show up? How do we stop hurting our co-workers? Those that deal with micro-aggressions are exhausted and often will not say anything. Start with yourself. Evaluate your own views and biases. Apologize when you catch yourself. If you see something, consider how to help and what to say.

    "That's Crazy": Why You Might Want to Rethink That Word In Your Vocabulary

    What Exactly is a Microaggression?

    What is a microaggression? 14 things people think are fine to say at work — but are actually racist, sexist, or offensive

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