Reflections on the 2023 RILA Conference

Tuesday, June 13, 2023 2:23 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

Submitted by Robin Nyzio, Branch Librarian at William Hall Library, Cranston

It was great fun to be inside the Providence Public Library for the conference this year. With the parking lot only a few feet from the front door and all the beautiful inside spaces, I really enjoyed the whole experience -- especially all the tasty food.

But, back to the sessions I attended...

Rearranging Religion to Decolonize Dewey was presented by a Springfield, MA, librarian, Elizabeth McKinstry. This project focused on making the 200s represent more of the world religions instead of being so heavy on Christianity and Judaism. For example, instead of putting religions of East and Southeast Asian origin in the 290s, they are shifted to the 220s, thereby establishing them chronologically as being older than Judaism and Christianity. 

You Don’t Need to be a Cybersecurity Expert to be Cybersecure, presented by PPL’s Beatrice Pulliam and OSL’s David Demick. Among the tips I took away from this session was that we need to use passphrases instead of passwords and that ‘length is strength’ when it comes to passwords. They also mentioned this website as a way to check your security:

Championing the Library: Practical Tips for Handling Difficult Patron Interactions gave solid tips on things to say in response to questioning from patrons. Kit Grant, a crisis communications manager, along with EP Director Meredith Bonds-Harmon, offered role-plays that were very helpful. Here are a few of her tips:

  • When in doubt, be the library. When a person starts asking about the appropriateness of materials, don’t take it personally but have a general answer ready, such as: "Thanks so much for the great questions. We like to have a variety of resources available because the library is for everyone."
  • Do not match negative energy, voice, tone, or language. She encourages us to practice staying relaxed, calm, and polite in all situations, so we won’t get flustered by demanding patrons or pushy people.

Rack of Eye: Managing Implicit Bias in Collections at Steamship Historical Society. Astrid Drew is the archivist for the Steamship Historical Society of America in Warwick. She talked about her collection, which was very fascinating, and I encourage you to look at their website: What Astrid and her team set out to do was to bring out more information about the people of color who built the ships and stayed below decks once they were underway, rather than only focusing on the engineers who designed the ships, the captains and crews, all of whom were, by and large, white. 

First Amendment 101: Common Exceptions to Free Speech Protection Justin Silverman, Executive Director of the New England First Amendment Coalitiontook us through what is and is not protected under the First Amendment. He cited Texas v. Johnson, the case having to do with burning the American flag, and gave us this great quote: "The Court noted, 'If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.' There is a lot of great information on this website and you can subscribe to get email updates specific to RI.