How to write an effective diversity statement as a job candidate (opinion)


, ,

Tanya Golash-Boza wrote a wonderful essay for Inside Higher Ed in 2016 that discussed eight tips on writing an effective diversity statement. At the University of California, Riverside, this statement is known as the “Statement of Contributions to Diversity” and is described as a “Statement addressing past and/or potential contributions to diversity through teaching, research, professional activity and/or service.” In this essay, I want to provide an additional point of view.

The first step in demystifying a diversity statement is to understand why it matters and why you are being asked to write one. At our university, the diversity statement is just one way to show a commitment to inclusive excellence. It is also your chance as an applicant to show how you can help achieve this goal and be part of our diverse and thriving community. That is, the point of the statement is to show what you will bring to the university in terms of diversity and inclusive excellence.

What does this mean? If you are underrepresented in a particular way, you can, of course, detail it in the statement. But since we cannot legally take into account an individual’s protected characteristics, saying that you are a diverse scholar because of one or any combination of these characteristics will not suffice and, again, that is not the point of the statement. Instead, you, like each and every other applicant, should show, not tell, that you have a commitment to diversity through your research, teaching and service — the three areas that you are evaluated on throughout your academic career.

Research. What is diversity research? As a former National Center for Institutional Diversity postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, I appreciate and support its approach, which is not limited to particular methodologies, theoretical perspectives or disciplines. Instead, quoting directly from NCID’s “Statement on Diversity Research and Scholarship,” diversity research aims to:

  • Inform understanding of historical and contemporary issues of social inequality across societal contexts and life domains (e.g., in education, arts and culture, health and mental health, economic and occupational attainment and mobility, infrastructure and community development).
  • Illuminate the challenges and opportunities that arise when individuals from different backgrounds and frames of reference come together in significant societal contexts, such as schools and colleges, neighborhoods and communities, and work teams in organizations.
  • Inform our understanding of systems of power and privilege and their interactions with groups historically underrepresented and marginalized based on identities including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, social/economic class, culture, sexual identity, ability status and religion.
  • Highlight the experiences of disenfranchised populations, whose narratives have traditionally been relegated to the outer periphery of intellectual inquiry and academic scholarship, made invisible through epistemologies and research methods that privilege dominant social groups.
  • Foreground the knowledge systems, assets and resources, and cultural strengths of members of historically marginalized communities in order to promote empowerment of individuals and groups from these communities.

That is, if any of your research speaks to social inequalities, power and/or interactions between different groups, among other things, you should describe that research as part of your statement. Outline how and why your research speaks to those issues, as well as how your research ties in with other diversity-related scholarship, programs and centers across the campus.

Teaching. Teaching is another aspect to highlight in your diversity statement. This is where you can talk about the courses you teach and your pedagogical approach. Do you teach courses on or about diversity topics? Do you use a wide range of learning activities in the classroom and adjust your teaching to the diverse set of needs of your students? Are you mentoring students who represent diversity in some way in your research or in their own work? Show, again don’t tell, how diversity informs your approach to teaching and mentorship. Be sure to include details of accomplishments and how they relate to your commitment to diversity, rather just than a list of courses that you teach.

Service. For many people, especially those who are in underrepresented groups — such as racial/ethnic and sexual minorities and women, among others — commitment to diversity is seen through our service. That is where you describe the kinds of academic, professional and community service you have engaged in, which means showing your commitment beyond a CV-like listing of positions you’ve held or dates of service. You should discuss how and why you are involved in particular types of service and what you’ve accomplished in doing so. Have you mentored underrepresented undergraduates who have applied and gotten into graduate school? Detail that here. Do you serve a leadership position in an organization? Describe what you’ve done in that position and how that reflects your commitment to diversity.

As you describe one, or all three, of the research, teaching and service triad in your statement, be sure to link to opportunities at the place where you are applying. For example, if you’ve previously served as a Mellon Mays mentor, and the university to which you are applying has a Mellon Mays program, be sure to include that connection. The same goes if you work on gender and sexuality studies and the university has a center, department or program in that field — even if you are not applying to it in particular (for example, if you are applying to a discipline-specific non-gender and sexuality studies department).

Also be aware of how your own life has been shaped by the various academic and social positions you occupy. Are you a first-generation college student, and as such, committed to mentoring such students and being involved in a first-gen program? Does your family background or life experience shape the perspectives that you bring to your research? Here is where you can discuss your own experiences in the statement. But the key is this: you should always discuss those experiences in the context of making them connect to your commitment to diversity in research, teaching and service — and what you will bring, and how you will contribute, to the broader university.

via Career Advice

21 Quotes to Kick Off Your New Year


, ,

new year quotes

Kick Off the New Year!

I love to step outside and watch the first rays of the sun early in the morning. There’s something about the newness of the day that gives me energy.

Whether the smell of a new car or the ref’s whistle signaling the start of a game, I love beginnings.

The new year is full of hope and opportunity.

Here are some quotes to inspire your new year. To your success!


“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” –Abraham Lincoln
Tweet This   Share on Facebook


“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” –Helen Keller
Tweet This   Share on Facebook


“Success is something you attract by the person you become.” –Jim Rohn
Tweet This   Share on Facebook


“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.” –G.K. Chesterton
Tweet This   Share on Facebook


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” –T.S. Eliot
Tweet This   Share on Facebook

Read the rest of this post…

via Skip Prichard | Leadership Insights

Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet


, ,

Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet

After Dawn Finch

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one. --Neil Gaiman

“Thanks to the internet, we no longer need libraries or librarians.” You most likely hear some variation on that theme pretty regularly.

Sixteen years ago, American Libraries published Mark Y. Herring’s essay “Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library” (April 2001). Technology has improved exponentially since then—social media didn’t even exist yet. But even the smartest phone’s intelligence is limited by paywalls, Twitter trolls, fake news, and other hazards of online life. Here are 10 reasons why libraries are still better than the internet.

  1. Libraries are safer spaces. The internet brings people together, often in enjoyable and productive ways, such as over shared interests (pop culture blogs, fanfic sites) or common challenges (online support groups). But cyberbullying and trolling can leave people reluctant to engage with folks they disagree with or to share their ideas in the first place. Libraries are places where people can gather constructively and all are welcome.
  2. Libraries respect history. Web pages are ephemeral, and link rot is a real problem. The content of library collections is much more stable. Printed materials are generally published on acid-free paper, which will not disintegrate. And librarians are leading the way to bring similar stability to the web through services like the Internet Archive and
  3. Librarians digitize influential primary sources. While looking at historical artifacts is valuable, repeated physical handling can damage them. Making digital versions of important works available online—as in the National Library of Medicine’s Turning the Pages project—is one solution. Library digitization projects also provide information to people who do not have the resources to travel to a particular library. Librarians are using the emerging technology of the internet to further the timeless mission of providing better access to information. The internet is the platform that enables this progress, but librarians are doing the work.
  4. Librarians are leaders in increasing online access to scholarly information. The open access movement makes scholarly articles available to all readers online, and librarians have been strong advocates of the movement for more than a decade. This access is especially critical when reporting the results of medical research, which is often funded by taxpayer dollars.
  5. Librarians are publishers. Scholarly publishers still provide the journals and books that researchers develop. But librarians have joined these efforts by becoming publishers themselves. New librarian-led publishing initiatives take full advantage of the web and generally make new work available on an open access basis. One example of library publishing, which is common in academic libraries, is the institutional repository. These repositories collect and preserve the broad range of a college or university’s intellectual output, such as datasets gathered in research studies, computer code used in software development, and conference proceedings.
  6. Libraries host makerspaces. Given that makerspaces provide venues for creativity, learning, and community, it only makes sense that libraries champion them. The maker movement has grown rapidly—in 2016 there were 14 times as many makerspaces as in 2006. Both public and academic libraries host makerspaces. You can learn about makerspaces online, of course. But to visit one you have to venture into the physical world.
  7. Librarians can help you sort the real news from the fake. While a plethora of useful, accurate, and engaging content is available online, the web is filled with inaccurate and misleading information. “Click bait” headlines get you to click on the content even if the underlying information is superficial or inaccurate. Misinformation is the spread of deliberate falsehoods or inflammatory content online, such as the Russian-backed ads placed on social media during the 2016 US presidential election. Librarianship has always been about providing objective, accurate, and engaging information that meets the needs of a particular person. This has not changed, and it is why librarians are experts in information literacy.
  8. Librarians guide you to exactly what you need. Google is an impressive search engine, but its results can be overwhelming, and many people do not know to filter them by content type (such as .pdf) or website source (such as .gov). Google offers many search tips, which are useful but generic. A conversation with a librarian can clarify exactly what you are looking for and figure out the best way to use Google—or many other resources—to find it.
  9. Librarians do not track your reading or search history to sell you things. Amazon’s book purchase recommendation feature is useful for learning about new books. But this usefulness comes at the expense of your privacy because your reading data is valuable business intelligence for Amazon. The same is true for your web searching history, which is why you often see ads for a product for weeks after searching for it just once. Librarians value and protect your privacy.
  10. Librarians do not censor. One core value of librarianship, as exemplified by the work of ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation, is thwarting censorship and allowing the free and full exchange of ideas. The internet is a powerful tool for information sharing, but it takes human advocates to stand for information freedom.

Libraries continue to provide benefits that are both tangible—such as community spaces and human interaction—and harder to quantify—access, privacy, intellectual freedom. The internet is an indispensable and irreplaceable tool for modern living. But it is not a library and will not replace the work of librarians.”


via Stephen’s Lighthouse

I have an MLS, do you? Do you need it?


, , , ,

I have sat back and read the various posts in many places about the “need” for the new executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) to have an “ALA-accredited Master’s Degree or a CAEP-accredited Master’s Degree with a specialty in school library media.” I have remained largely silent in those discussions. I’ve remained silent because I have already cast my vote in favor of making the degree a PREFERRED qualification, and didn’t think there was a need to state or reiterate my position publicly. I’ve also stayed silent because I am currently a member of the ALA Executive Board and I did not – do not – want what I say to appear to be a reflection of the views of the Board as a whole. I am speaking here as a member – as a LIFE MEMBER – of the American Library Association, and not as a Board member.

I earned my Master of Library Science Service (MLS) from the then School of Communication, Information, and Library Science Studies at Rutgers University. The year after I completed the degree, the School added an “I” and began to offer the degree of Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). They subsequently changed the name of the school to be the School of Communication and Information and more recently dropped the “L” from the degree and they now offer a Master of Information degree. I have to admit it sounds rather cool to be a “Master of Information” but I don’t know if they were really going for the “cool points” when that decision was made.

We are now at the tail end of the trend towards dropping the “L” from the names of schools that either once offered, or still offer, a “library degree”. Most have become schools of information science or information studies or some other combination of words that include “information” and not “library”. I’m not going to draw any conclusions from this fact, but will ask that you think about what it says about those who have made a commitment – arguably – to educating the next generation of librarians, or should I say information professionals?

But the discussion of the schools may only be tangential to the ALA Executive Director degree requirement. Although the changes at the schools are possibly a reflection of what is happening in libraries – certainly what I see happening in academic and research libraries, with which I am most familiar. The work that we are doing continues to evolve and often requires skill sets and educational backgrounds different from those typically conveyed in a “library” school. In some sense, I applaud the schools for realizing the need to change. We certainly recognize that shift in some libraries and have begun to hire staff that have the appropriate mix of experience and education that is likely to lead to success in the positions – even if that education does not include an MLIS. And hiring these people does not devalue the MLIS as we will continue to hire MLS-holders where it is appropriate; it is merely a recognition that for some positions, we need something other than the MLIS. If someone with an MLIS ALSO has the other skills and education, then great for them, as they become (potentially) even more marketable (i.e. qualified).

The question I will address here, however, is does the ALA Executive Director need to hold an MLS? I don’t think so. I do believe that the executive director needs to have a grounding in the issues that libraries face and those for which we advocate on behalf of our users and our communities. And they need to be a strong leader. I might even say they need to be a strong association leader. That’s it. period (well, there are all the qualities that come with being a leader, etc.).

The position is one of leadership. Some have argued that we need to have MLIS-holders running our libraries and therefore need to have an MLIS-holder running our association. They have drawn comparisons to the fact that the Library of Congress now has (finally) an MLIS-holder as its Librarian. To them, I say YES. I could argue (even if I don’t completely agree) that the LIBRARY director (of whatever library) should have the library degree. The ALA Executive Director, however, will not be leading a LIBRARY; he or she will be leading an ASSOCIATION. And, by the way, the association has a library that is managed by a librarian. Association Executives come from many fields of study. The person could have an MBA, a JD, a BA, or any other academic credential. We do want someone who understands and has led membership organizations, who understands and can speak about library issues, and who can advocate for libraries and library workers. There are people who do just that who do not have an MLIS.

Yet others argue that the American Medical Association or the American Bar Association are headed, respectively, by a doctor and a lawyer. Furthermore, as the body that accredits the degree in that profession, it would be an anathema to have the accrediting agency (in this case, ALA – as the appointing body of the Committee on Accreditation) be headed by someone who doesn’t hold the very degree that we accredit. It is certainly true that the directors of these two associations (and probably others) hold the degree that the body accredits.

I thought it worth examining the accreditation standards for those organizations, as well as those of the American Library Association’s Committee on Accreditation. Again, I believe it necessary to remind readers that I am not writing this as a member of the ALA Executive Board, but rather as a member of the Association.

The standards for accreditation set by the American Medical Association’s Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Curriculum Standards [PDF] (Standard 303) of the American Bar Association describe a core set of prescribed educational outcomes that are required for one to earn the respective degrees in these fields. And one also has to continue their education and professional growth to remain certified in these professions. Not so in our profession!

The standards for the American Library Association [PDF] seem not to have a similar core set of educational outcomes. I question, therefore, what makes a librarian a librarian if the body that accredits the members of this profession does not define a core set of knowledge that is required to be considered a member of the profession? In examining the requirements for the degree at several schools there isn’t even a standard for the number of credit hours required for the degree. For example (and I admittedly only looked at five six of the nationally ranked programs):

I’ve provided links for anyone interested in examining the curricular requirements (such as they are) at these schools. With this seeming disparity, I now ask, what makes a librarian a librarian if there is no common set of required knowledge? And without a response to that question, why should we have someone with an ALA-accredited degree (which can vary in scope and content) to lead the Association?

Orchid Labs is Developing a Blockchain-Based Internet Protocol to Defeat Censorship and Surveillance


, ,

From Axios:

Orchid Labs says that it has developed blockchain-based protocol that lets users access the internet free of censorship, restrictions, and surveillance.


The main idea is to incentivize people with unused internet bandwidth to share it with other users (presumably in places with restrictions), in exchange for payment via Orchid’s Ethereum-based tokens. The company also says it’s a more viable option than Tor and virtual private networks (VPNs), which are increasingly difficult to access in places like China.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to Orchid Protocol Web Site and FAQ

In Their Own Words (via FAQ):

2017-10-29_09-50-18Orchid is an open-source project committed to ending surveillance and censorship on the Internet. The Orchid protocol uses an overlay network built upon the existing Internet, which is driven by a peer-to-peer tokenized bandwidth exchange, creating a more inclusive, liberated Internet. Orchid Labs Inc. is a Delaware company with the mission of promoting and supporting the research and development of the Orchid Protocol. Orchid Labs Inc. was founded in 2017 by leading technologists and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Orchid protocols are available in private alpha to select recipients today. Later this year, all Orchid software will be published to the open source community. Early in 2018 we plan to offer a public beta of the Orchid Protocol to help billions of users on all corners of the globe make Internet Freedom a reality.

See Also: Orchid White Paper About Protocol: “Orchid: A Fully Distributed, Anonymous Proxy Network Incentivized Through Bandwidth Mining”
47 pages; PDF.

via INFOdocket