#LISMentalHealth2017

Previous iteration of this post


CN for police, self-harm,  and involuntary commitment

 

It was recently my birthday (January 26) and it was a mixed day. I say that because while things are going fairly well in my personal life, the last vestiges of our democracy is crumbling — that tends to color every day a certain hue of resistant beige. It was not however, my worst birthday. That title belongs to January 26th, 2003, my 19th birthday. I want to acknowledge that it was the worst for reasons entirely personal and not at all to do with the state of the world in 2002 [which were certainly awful, but not on my mind at that time]

At that time, I was living at the Austen Riggs Center in western Mass on an indefinite absence from Wesleyan University. Austen Riggs is a voluntary-only open-door-kinda-treatment facility. That means that you are not allowed to be there if you need a locked-unit or are judged a risk to harm yourself or others. I’d been there since Oct. 31 of 2002.

You need to understand that although I was in a serious treatment program, my mind was always on getting back to school, back to my friends. I’d had to leave Wesleyan in September of my sophomore year and didn’t know when [if ever, and spoiler: never] I’d get to go back. In my mind, my friends were moving on, having new experiences, and forging on without me. I felt left-behind, forgotten, and losing touch with what I was working towards.

Let me pause to be perfectly clear that it was not healthy to hold “return to Wesleyan and be with all my friends and everything will be as though I’d never left” as my goal. It wasn’t realistic because it wasn’t possible. Not that I couldn’t have returned, but that anything would be the same even if I did go back. Time had passed and would continue to pass and rekindling that magical first year of college can’t be done.

January 25, 2003 — it was about to be my birthday and I was feeling particularly lonesome. I wanted to see my friends so I drove down to Wesleyan. It wasn’t enough, and it didn’t help. If anything it made my feelings worse. Seeing them in person was just further evidence to me that I’d missed some important window on those relationships — and that that window was ever widening.

I panicked. I broke down. I was hopeless.  I drove.

I drove all night. I stopped for gas and ate and I drove. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, I just knew that when I was driving with my music playing, I felt like I was in charge of my life, I was in control of my destination and my story and my future. I’d gotten on I-90 West and eventually saw a sign for Niagara Falls in the early hours of the morning. I’d never been there, and so I stopped. It was early and cold on January 26th and it was my birthday. I saw the Falls and sat for a while alone. Listening to the empty silence and smelling the cold.

I kept driving. Seeing signs for Ohio I thought maybe I’d see my friend at Oberlin whom I’d never visited. I called my parents first to explain what I’d been doing, they were worried. I was also worried. I called my friend and we got together at Oberlin. I spent the night there and had promised my parents I’d come back the next day. It was snowing harder by that point and I was not a good driver. I’m still not a good driver.

I spun off the road a little ways and my car got stuck. I couldn’t get it back onto the road. I started walking, hoping somebody would come along who could get me to a tow truck. A semi picked me up and offered to drive me to a gas station at the next off-ramp, he called a dispatch, got my car towed and had the tow guy meet me at the gas station. The tow guy drove me to an ATM so I could get cash to buy back my car. I got to a motel and slept, charging my phone and calling my parents again.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. I went home to Sharon and told my parents that I didn’t want to be at Austen Riggs anymore, they had me call the Centre to tell them that I was home safe. Then the police arrived, the Centre had called them to bring to a psych unit at a hospital.

I was scared. I was angry, and I was scared. But here I pause this mostly-flat telling to editorialize again. I survived this encounter in no small part due to being white and affluent. When I wouldn’t get on a gurney, when I resisted and struggled — no excessive force was used against me. No weapons were brought out to escalate the situation. This is not the the treatment people who don’t look like me, who don’t live in ‘good’ neighborhoods get. I was handcuffed to the gurney and restrained but I survived and wasn’t harmed.

If there’s any point or message to this besides “I’m sharing this story so that others in LIS will know that they are not alone with having scary or ‘dangerous’ histories and presents” — it is this: responding to the acutely symptomatic with law enforcement is a terrible societal idea. They are not equipped for those situations and the usual gamut of implicit and explicit biases has far too many times lead to their murdering those they are sent to help.

This did not happen to me, I was protected by my place in the social structure. It shouldn’t happen to anyone.

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Post Midwinter Post

I’m back from ALA Midwinter — it was a good conference, I got to meet several twitter people IRL, and see those I already had met before! I got to perform my first professional duties as an intern of a committee and take copious notes. I also have to type those notes into official Minutes…but that can wait.

If you follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I do a lot of live twitting of sessions that I’m in. That means that I don’t always get to share my thoughts/feelings on what I’m hearing beyond the occasionally editorial snark. This is probably for the best as I do not do my best reacting when off the cuff. I like to have time to reflect and percolate before giving a response.

Here now are two of those thoughts:

I heard a lot from people at the Library of Congress about the LCSH process. Not surprisingly, considering the ‘illegal aliens’ change/not-change of last year — LCSH has been thrust into a larger spotlight beyond catalogers and the people that love them.

One thing that was conspicuously absent amidst the protestations and defenses of the difficulty and care that goes into LCSH: acknowledgment that they might ever get it wrong

I hear them, and appreciate that it’s hard. Some 90 million+ headings are overseen and run by essentially 3 people. That’s ludicrous, they are underfunded, under-supported, and overwhelmed.

But even still — I heard a lot of dismissiveness that the criticisms of librarians are just grouchy griping and LC is “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” [in regards to ever changing a heading or heading pattern structure]. Critical catalogers are passionate about what we fight for not because we want be pains in LC’s side or tetchy technical services librarians — but because we’re advocating for our patrons, and often, for ourselves. I wish that our interactions with LC weren’t brushed aside as casually as I heard them being.

 

ALA is a giant organization with 10s of thousands of members. I know that on some level. Yet my involvement is so limited that is always feels smaller than that to me. I’m so focused on ALCTS [and let’s be honest, not just ‘on ALCTS’ but on the cataloging piece of ALCTS] that I miss a lot of Big ALA. These past few months though, even I’ve noticed. I watched along with my peers (see #NotMyALA for more) while statements were issued ostensibly on behalf of librarians offering capitulation and words of encouragement. Eagerness to work alongside this political regime made me question ALA and what they stand for.

I kept this in mind at Midwinter determined to figure out what this organization is and how to find my place within it. Attending the ALCTS Symposium, hearing Courtney Young, Hannah Buckland, Charlotte Roh, Harrison Inefuku, Paolo P. Gujilde, Emily Drabinski, Anna Marie Willer, Miriam Centeno, and Mark Puente speak — I was struck by the fact that they’re ALA too. Grappling over dinner with friends about issues we care deeply about in our profession,attending the Women’s March arm in arm with hundreds of librarians (or more? I have not seen numbers), that too is ALA. I watched live tweets from April Hathcock, Tyler Dzuba, Erin Leach, and Anastasia Chiu [among others] speak passionately and directly to ALA council. This to me, is ALA.

People who believe that libraries should and can be more and are willing to work for it — they make ALA stronger just by being members. But these people aren’t content to be members passively. They engage, they run for office, they hold positions, they agitate. To this end I’m trying to be more involved. I don’t want to be a member who flashes a card [I don’t even have an ALA card, are there cards?] and says he pays his dues. I want to be a part of the change that others are already fighting for and requires a more full vestment in the organization.  I’m ready for more responsibility.

 

 

New LCSH!

As always — check out the full approved list


A couple notes before we begin:

Male privilege was rejected by the editorial meeting [notes of the editorial meeting] with the following summary:

A proposal for White privilege appeared on Tentative List 10 (2016) and was not approved because LCSH does not include specific headings for groups discriminated for or against, and because other headings have been assigned to works on the concept. The proposal for Male privilege is analogous. Numerous other headings cover the concept of male privilege, including Sexism, Androcentrism, and Male domination (Social structure). The proposal for Male privilege was not approved.

So as the person who proposed Male privilege, I feel responsible for it — here’s my problem with their response.

LCSH absolutely does include “specific headings for groups discriminated for or against”

Some examples:

Discrimination against caregivers.
Discrimination against intersex people
Discrimination against overweight persons
Discrimination against the homeless
Discrimination against the mentally ill
Discrimination against people with disabilities

this is just a small set, there are lots. 

So that reason doesn’t hold water for me.

 

The other half, that there are already sufficient headings to cover the subject doesn’t wash either.

I don’t want to analyze each term they offer, but none quite capture the concept of male privilege. Some may be decent RTs, but not the same concept. At the very least LCSH needs to acknowledge that it’s an increasingly used term, and consider adding it as a UF. We do not serve our users by denying them an entrance into the catalog.


 

Birds of Prey (Fictitious characters)

picture from DC Comics' Birds of Prey
Note: Your alias doesn’t have to be a bird

Child ninja

I'd say that's worthy of FULL bars
I’d say that’s worthy of FULL bars

Closet drama, French

R. Kelly's Trapped in the closet
Oui, I am a sexual predator.

Commercialism

I came here to catalog and chew bubblegum
I came here to catalog and chew bubblegum

Database management in libraries

Sob.
Sob.

Diamond marimba

diamond jewelry in shape of a xylophone
I know it’s a xylophone, but STILL

Introduced corals

Hi coral!
Hi coral!

Kunoichi

I've never played Yu-Gi-Oh!, I have no idea what's going on here
I’ve never played Yu-Gi-Oh!, I have no idea what’s going on here

Phenomenologists

And people say *Library Science* isn't a real degree!
And people say *Library Science* isn’t a real degree!

Second-born children in literature

Why it's Jaehaerys II of course! Don't tell me you don't know your Targaryen line?
Why it’s Jaehaerys II of course! Don’t tell me you don’t know your Targaryen line?

Ships in motion pictures

Sure it's a lesser Hemsworth, but i'm a sucker for time travel movies
Sure it’s a lesser Hemsworth, but i’m a sucker for time travel movies

Women ski jumpers

wow! jump skis are super long...or maybe that's regular? I've never skied
wow! jump skis are super long…or maybe that’s regular? I’ve never skied