Saturday, June 25, 2016

‘Ninja Librarians: Sword in the Stacks’

Book cover: 'The Ninja Librarians, Sword in the Stacks.' Image depicts three figures against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling rows of shelves stacked with books and the skeletons of small animals. An enormous portrait of a mustachioed man in a hat glowers down at them.
It was such a delight to read The Accidental Keyhand, first book in The Ninja Librarians, that I eagerly accepted an invitation by series author Jen Swann Downey to read the second book.

As Sword in the Stacks opens (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2016), young protagonists Dorrie and Marcus begin their training as official apprentices to the Lybrariad, a secret society that aids people who were persecuted throughout history for expressing their ideas.

This fantasy series builds upon the image of the library professional as a defender of intellectual freedom and endows its characters with swashbuckling derring-do.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Professional blogging and editing

My part-time work for a local church includes posts to social media, “MailChimp” email campaigns and updates to the church blog. The spirit of connecting people with information and resources infuses my work with the church, and is consistent with my work in the field of library service.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Keep politics out of LOC subject headings

Spine-up view of Volumes I through VI in Library of Congress Subject Classification Headings, circa 2011, bound in burgundy-cloth hardcover
Source of image: American Library Association
In an email to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, I urged the House Appropriations Committee to strike language in legislation adopted by its Legislative Branch Subcommittee, which would bar the Library of Congress (LOC) from updating subject heading classifications for the terms “Aliens” and “Illegal aliens.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Planter slipcovers from fabric

Green leafy plants inside two round planters that have been covered with multi-color against white, leaf-patterned fabric. The bottom of each planter slipcover and a foldover 'lip' is white polka-dot against light green

Black-cloth planters provide utilitarian and practical housing for a small garden of peppers and kale, but aesthetically, they’re rather “industrial.” Fortunately, we found brightly-patterned canvas fabric at Sew Creative in downtown Ashland, Oregon. At the beginning of June, I used this wonderfully colorful fabric to fashion planter slipcovers.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

‘Re-Thinking Autism’

Re-Thinking Autism covers a lot of ground, making it difficult for this reviewer to single out individual contributions.

I think reactions to this book will vary greatly depending upon readers’ interests and circumstances.

The book positions itself as contributing to “critical autism studies” with four objectives:

1. To challenge the evidence base for biomedical models of autism,
2. To explore the impact of the diagnosis on the lived experience of people so labeled,
3. To offer a conceptual critique of the production, consumption and commodification of autism in the twenty-first century in a global context, and
4. To explore ideas for service provision and practice that move beyond a focus on the diagnosis.

This book is at its strongest when advocating for accommodations and services to be made available without first demanding a medical diagnosis.

Requiring people to “prove” their possession of what can be an “invisible” disability, lets society off the hook for the barriers it imposes against full participation by everyone. It also perpetuates inequality — those who can afford the expense and time of getting an “official” diagnosis are allowed access to concessions, while those who might otherwise benefit but missed out on the label in childhood and now can’t afford to obtain diagnosis through an accepted avenue, must struggle to meet social norms.

I believe the book to be less-successful at examining the impact of an autism “label” on the person who actually bears it. In this aspect of critical autism studies, people who are themselves on the spectrum ought to lead the discussion and — unless I missed something in my reading — I could not find a first-hand perspective among contributions to this book.

If I did miss something, I’d appreciate being told, so I can update this response.

I've read several blogs by people on the spectrum and — far from feeling stigmatized by the label of “autism” — they find their possession of a known diagnosis to be vastly preferable to the labels they would otherwise have been subjected to.

I want to offer my perspective as an “expert by experience.” Given the authors’ acknowledgement of these experts’ belonging in a cross-discipline approach to autism, I believe my personal experience has direct bearing in discussion of this book.

From kindergarten onward, I was a school-wide outcast whose classmates taunted and shunned me. No one offered me a diagnosis of “autism,” but surely the ugly names imposed upon me by my classmates carried far greater stigma.

I hold a similar view of unsolicited criticisms that other adults offered to my parents: I would far rather have been known as “autistic” than be labeled a “brat.”

Only in adulthood, did I receive the label that, quite frankly, liberated me.

I’d known all along that I was “different” from everyone, and this finally provided me with the explanation I needed as to why I felt like an alien on earth.

If you would truly understand the impact of an autism diagnosis, then you have to include my experiences, or the experiences of others like me. We are the ones who live with the “impact” that researchers discuss academically.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”