Libraries in the news

Libraries aren't neutral ground in the fight for anti-racist education

While conservative movements and bills taking aim at anti-racist approaches to education have primarily focused on schools, libraries can also be particularly vulnerable as repositories not just for books, but for information, education, and resources. As library boards can often operate with very little oversight from other branches of local government, who has control over budgets, services, and programming can have widely spanning effects on a community. In many areas, libraries function as community centers offering public access to the internet, after-school programs, citizenship classes, and assistance in applying for public benefits. Book displays centering LGBTQ+ and BIPOC stories and multilingual programming can go a long way toward making marginalized community members feel welcomed and included. And it is precisely because of the expansion of library services in recent decades that many officials want to clamp down on their reach. “I think if you look at the source of that anger, it’s about power and resources,” said Kafi Kumasi, an associate professor of library science at Wayne State University. “It’s wanting to make sure that children are fed this myth of what America is and are not exposed to the realities of racism, classism, sexism.
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143,518 US public library workers are keeping their communities informed, connected and engaged – but their jobs may be at risk

Christine D'Arpa, assistant professor of library and information sciences, Wayne State University; Rachel D. Williams, assistant professor of library and information science, Simmons University; and Noah Lenstra, assistant professor of library and information science, University of North Carolina – Greensboro, wrote an article for The Conversation. America’s public library workers have adjusted and expanded their services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to initiating curbside pickup options, they’re doing many things to support their local communities, such as extending free Wi-Fi outside library walls, becoming vaccination sites, hosting drive-through food pantries in library parking lots and establishing virtual programs for all ages, including everything from story times to Zoom sessions on grieving and funerals.
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These 1960’s Black activist groups fought for economic opportunity in Detroit

A new collection at the Walter P. Reuther Library Archives at Wayne State University showcases documents and materials from Black activist groups in Detroit in the 1960’s. In the second half of the 20th century, the Great Migration of African Americans began moving from the south to the north in search of economic opportunity. They joined a burgeoning worker and union rights movement, forming several activist groups across Southeast Michigan to demand better working conditions and access to unionized work. Several industries from the medical field to the auto industries had workers protesting for equality. The Detroit Revolutionary Movement or (DRUM) left a trove of files and materials are available online through the Walter P. Reuther Library Archives at Wayne State University. “We believe during this moment in history, there’s gonna be an increased interest in organizations like this,” said Louis Jones, a field archivist with the library of labor and urban affairs.

Wayne State archivists partner with College of Education to incorporate archival materials into K–12 curricula

The Wayne State University College of Education and Walter P. Reuther Library Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs were recently awarded a joint $83,100 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making affiliate of the National Archives and Records Administration. The two-year funding will support the ongoing partnership, “Bridging the Gap: Archives in the Classroom and Community,” which partners archivists and teaching students to bring community-based primary source materials into K–12 classrooms. The project originated five years ago when, as part of an effort to expand collaboration beyond the university’s history department, Reuther archivists considered where their collections might fit into other research areas. “I'm surrounded with the theories of education and education reform,” Daniel Golodner, archivist for the American Federation of Teachers historical collection, told LJ. “So I had the idea: Why aren't we reaching out to those who actually teach?” Wayne State’s College of Education, which offers bachelor's, master's, education specialist, and doctoral degree programs for teachers in 37 program areas, was an ideal place to start. Golodner and Outreach Archivist Meghan Courtney began working with Min Yu and Christopher B. Crowley, both assistant professors of Teacher Education at the College of Education.
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Wayne State Library launches virtual series about using census data

The Wayne State Library System is launching a virtual series to teach people about the value of Census data. “A lot of people know that they can take the Census,” says Meghan Courtney, outreach archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs. “But we want to take it a step further and let people know that there are many ways that this data is actually useful for them in their lives.” The free series kicks off on Zoom on Wednesday June 3 at 4 p.m. with a talk called “Why the Census?” Librarians will explain how the Census impacts public funding and show attendees how they can access Census data. The second talk in the series, “Mapping and the Census,” is happening Friday, June 17 at 10 a.m. All sessions will be recorded for people who can’t attend and want to view at a later date. “Getting the Census done is a community effort,” says Courtney. “And it’s something that will affect not only Wayne State’s campus area but the whole region in a huge way.”

Bringing the student startup dream to life at Wayne State

Armed with care packages, clothes and clinical supplies, medical students in Detroit are learning outside the classroom. They are putting their knowledge and boots to the pavement, providing free health care to the city's homeless. Each week, students under the supervision of a registered physician or nurse practitioner get on their bikes and look for those in need. Programs such as Michigan State University's Detroit Street Care, Wayne State University's Street Medicine Detroit and the University of Michigan's Wolverine Street Medicine work together to treat as many of the city's homeless as possible. Jedidiah Bell, a fourth-year med student at Wayne State University and president of Street Medicine Detroit, says seeing issues from lack of health care access in his home country of Zimbabwe made him want to participate. "When I moved to the states for university and medical school, I saw the similar things [lack of access] with the homeless population," said Bell. "When I saw street medicine, I appreciated the model of how can we take medical care to the street and build up trust to bridge the gap between the homeless and the medical world." While the programs provide a vital service to the community, Bell says the real-world experience teaches students things the classroom or clinic can't. "It teaches medical students to hone-in on, not just medical conditions of patients, but to be able to sit down and form relationships and discuss other things that might be contributing to [patients'] health but might not come up during a traditional medical encounter." Bell says there's a widespread belief that the "students take away more from people on the streets than they take away from us." Anneliese Petersen, a second-year medical student at Wayne State University and volunteer with Street Medicine Detroit, says the experience also shows upcoming medical professionals another side of health -- the social determinants. "Things that are not strictly medical-based but have a strong impact on health and well-being. Income, access to health care, access to medication, being able to eat well, sleep well, to be able to relax and not be under chronic stress."
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Legislators push for more librarians in Michigan schools

At a time that Michigan students are falling behind, three bills have landed in Lansing for further discussion. In 2018, the Michigan Department of Education released statistics that showed less than half of Michigan third and fourth graders read at grade level. Michigan ranks 47th in the nation for its ratio of students to certified librarians — it’s also in the bottom five in literacy. The two statistics have legislators like State Rep. Darrin Camilleri questioning why more isn’t being done to increase the presence of librarians in schools. Earlier this year, Wayne State launched a program to certify media specialists because so few exist after years of attrition. During recessions many schools began to look for areas to cut within their budget — media specialists were among the first positions cut. Some experts believe it’s directly related to the state’s literacy concerns. “It’s unfortunate, but we see correlation between the decline of certified librarians and the decline in our students literacy scores,” said Kafi Kumasi, a professor at Wayne State University.

Wayne State to Offer Experimental School Librarian Certification Program

Created to address Michigan’s low literacy rates, Wayne State University’s School of Information Sciences (SIS) is launching an experimental program for spring/summer 2019 aimed at increasing the number of professional school librarians in the state. Kafi Kumasi, assistant SIS professor and lead developer of the program, says the time is right to act on “new synergy” in the state’s educational system and legislative bodies. 
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Wayne State launching new program for librarians

As fewer and fewer students are meeting literacy standards in Michigan there’s a problem that experts say could be connected: Too few schools have certified librarians. In Michigan only 8-percent of school librarians are staffed with a full-time certified library media specialist, more than half don’t even carry a library staff. Kari Kumasi, an associate professor at Wayne State, believes that it’s a crisis that isn’t being discussed. “It’s unfortunate, but we see correlation between the decline of certified librarians and the decline in our students literacy scores,” explained Kumasi. It’s not that the literacy concern isn’t being acknowledged.
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General Motors offers buyouts to 18,000 workers: 'The world is changing'

General Motors is a technology company that makes cars, and the skills its employees had yesterday are continuously becoming outdated. Experts say that is the underlying message of GM CEO Mary Barra's move on Oct. 31 to offer voluntary buyouts to GM's North American salaried workers with 12 or more years of experience with the company. On the surface, it's typical cost-cutting ahead of a potential dip in new-car sales and rising raw material costs. But look closer. Consider that Barra hails from a human resources background, so targeting employees with long seniority and high pay grades is strategic when a company is moving toward the development of more electric cars, fuel cells and autonomous vehicles, experts say. It means redeploying the workforce and freeing up significant capital, said Marick Masters, professor of business at Wayne State University.