#critlib: environmental and labor implications of library technology

Storify of the #critlib chat from 7/14/2015 on environmental sustainability in libraries, moderated by @ibeilin, & @cat_lager. For more information about #critlib, including past & future chats, please see http://tinyurl.com/critlibx

  1. [The usual disclaimer: I tried to include all of Tweets from the chat and string Tweets from the same thread together as best as I could. Retweets, favorites, & tweets without the hashtag omitted on purpose. Lacunae, misreadings, or other mistakes my own.]
  2. Recommended readings:
  3. 1) "You’re No Fun Anymore: The Ethics of Acquiring Electronic Devices in Light of E-Waste, Sweatshops, and Globalization" by Jennifer Poggiali:  http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2015/Poggiali.pdf 
  4. 2) “Beyond Swag” by Dave Hudson. Mostly readable from the Google books link, ping @ibeilin or @cat_lager for pre-pub PDF.  https://books.google.ca/books?id=GTUPWhh0j9AC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA193#v=onepage&q&f=false 
  5. Welcome (back) to #critlib everyone! Let's start with intros! I'm Ian, academic librarian in NYC!
  6. Tonight was billed as being about environmental & labor impacts of tech in libs, but the labor part will be picked up in a future #critlib
  7. Introductions
  8. Hi #critlib! Ellen, pt circulation assistant at an academic library, last semester MLIS student from Virginia. They/them pronouns please. :)
  9. Excited about tonight's #critlib topic. Both articles helped clarify a lot of questions I'd had re: environmental efficacy and LIS.
  10. Which is to say, they helped clarify WHAT my questions should be, not so much handed me the answers. #critlib
  11. @ecmacinnis That's so much of why I like #critlib — it helps me think of better questions I might not realize on my own.
  12. Evening, everyone! I'm Leanne, metadata person/cataloger in Philly. Co-modding this evening. #critlib
  13. Hi #critlib! Newbie librarian (currently) in Illinois. Super excited about the topic tonight.
  14. @ibeilin Hi everyone in #critlib land. Putting kids to bed so I'll be in & out. Joanna in Baltimore, UMBC!
  15. Hello #critlib, I'm Laura, library student working in children's services at a public library in Melbourne, Australia.
  16. Hello from Eugene! I'm Gina, project coordinator at University of Oregon Libraries. *waves* #GoDucks #critlib
  17. Hi #critlib! Elise here, data curator metadata person in Illinois. Probably lurking tonight.
  18. Aimee, Library Specialist at a community college. Likely mostly lurking while on the Circ desk. #critlib
  19. Hi #critlib! Ryan here, finishing up MLS degree in ridiculously verdant Bloomington, IN
  20. Hi #critlib, archivist here dialing in from Cincinnati and keeping one eye on the All Star Game happening in our fair city
  21. Hello, #critlib! I'm Lauren, instruction librarian in Virginia.
  22. Good evening #critlib! I'm Genna, university archivist/spec coll librarian in RI.
  23. Hi #critlib, Karen, IL librn from Guelph, Ontario. Didn't do the readings 😳 so probably lurking more than participating)
  24. @deweysnotdead @nicholsonkp you don't have to lurk if you didn't read - you two should have plenty to say! #critlib
  25. Hi, #critlib - I'm an academic librarian in Tampa FL
  26. Hey #critlib, Derrick here. Lurking from the District of Columbia, reference and instruction lib at American U.
  27. Hi, #critlib. Sarah from Baltimore. I'm at a gov't library.
  28. Hi, #critlib! I just finished temp job as a ref lib @ a CC. #alaac15 inspired me to explore opportunities @ public libraries next.
  29. Hi #critlib! Turner here. Access Services dood from Portland, OR :-)
  30. Hi #critlib. I’m Joshua, an instruction/reference/IR librarian in upstate NY. Lurking tonight.
  31. seems to me that tonight's #critlib has representatives from a wider than usual variety of libraries... which is awesome
  32. Hi #critlib, I am Kimberly from GA. I will also be lurking.
  33. Q1 What are the problems with the idea of 'ethical consumerism' in general and for libraries in particular?
  34. Alright all! Keep the intros coming, but let's get things started. #critlib
  35. Q1 What are the problems with the idea of 'ethical consumerism' in general and for libraries in particular? #critlib
  36. Love how consumerism & consumption are applicable across all lib environments & into personal realm. So excited to read other POV. #critlib
  37. A1: all those invisible parts of the supply chain make it easy to ignore reality of labor practices CC: @jenpoggiali #critlib
  38. @nora_almeida @jenpoggiali Absolutely! Is staggering to think of who and what I rely on to maintain my cushy life. #critlib
  39. A1. Hmmm... I want to just blame capitalism. But is that too wide a target? #critlib
  40. These readings made me more conscious of how consumerist much of the library world is/has become #critlib
  41. @ibeilin So strange because I expected libraries to be inherently anti-consumerist and yet, here we are. #critlib
  42. @ecmacinnis @ibeilin [side note, i love it when #critlib chats make me realize 'i guess i assumed x about libraries, but there's more to it]
  43. Q1 I'm skeptical of a lot of ethical consumerism for many of the reasons in the readings #critlib
  44. A1: 'Ethical consumerism' gives us (general professional community) an easy 'out' when dealing with enviromental or sj issues. #critlib
  45. A1 It skips over reduce, reuse, recycle hierarchy of cultural change to opt for product distinction (tho some choices are better!) #critlib
  46. Q1 I see conflict bt serving users & consuming ethically when latter is often more expensive (e.g. shopping cheaper not greener) #critlib
  47. @historivist Totally true. Reality of workflow and convenience also a factor. #critlib
  48. A1 'ethical consumerism' limits frame of reference to individual action, closing doors to collective action [which is very needed] #critlib
  49. A1 Consumption models remain intact. Instead of buying dozens of ipads to lend b/c you can, ask: What does it mean to buy this? #critlib
  50. A1 Ethical consumerism individualizes the issue of environmental responsibility & says it's solvable by buying the "right" products #critlib
  51. @EamonTewell Given ineffectiveness of ethical consumerism, I would prioritise a culture of shared access to prohibitively $$ tech #critlib
  52. @dignityjones yes! Resharing and reusing are already core organizing principles of libraries--not a big stretch! #critlib
  53. @EamonTewell sharing is the value of librarianship that most resonates with me, and I wonder why its not highlighted/extended more #critlib
  54. ...all while further perpetuating structural issues (capitalism) at the heart of the problem to begin with #critlib  https://twitter.com/EamonTewell/status/621125812670967808 
  55. @oksveta Confronting capitalism is so much harder than buying yet another set of ultra-recyclo vegetarian shopping bags though! #critlib
  56. @ecmacinnis @cat_lager @oksveta and it feels like a nearly impossible task when your institution doesn't support the confrontation #critlib
  57. @heidylibrarian @ecmacinnis @cat_lager def. also think there's a distinction to make b/w what we do at level of institution [1/2] #critlib
  58. @heidylibrarian @ecmacinnis @cat_lager vs. at some sort of professional level/as library workers collectively -- still pondering it #critlib
  59. A1: feeling dumb asking this since I didn't do readings but Is there a distinction bet consumerism & consumption? Or is that naive? #critlib
  60. @nicholsonkp good point -not really addressed explicitly in readings; though Dave does make point that consumtion itself is a prob #critlib
  61. A1: "ethical consumerism" seems like a way to assuage the guilt of the consumer w/o cutting back on exploitation/production #critlib
  62. A1: consumerism is focused more on how individuals should purchase/live, which means more guilt, less change #critlib
  63. A1 reading Klein's "This Changes Everything" for my climate change research and it's making me question consumer-based solutions #critlib
  64. @eiratansey I was thinking along same lines in sense that some consumption is unavoidable #critlib
  65. Desire for ethical consumerism in libraries might be curbed due to admin decisions, budget limitations & contract stipulations. #critlib
  66. A1: participating in ethical consumption is a privilege. allows a certain segment to feel like superheroes thru shopping choices. #critlib
  67. @ecmacinnis and the corollary for a library is that it feels virtuous for consuming (and producing) 'ethically' #critlib
  68. @ibeilin Yessss. Self righteousness is a heckuva drug. (I say this as a consumer regularly duped by ethical consumption.) #critlib
  69. A1. I think "ethical consumerism" is also a smoke screen for class privilege and corporate green washing... #critlib
  70. ethical consumerism also available only to those w the means -- ethics only for the rich #critlib
  71. @ginaschless Fair labor costs $ and if lib is trying to serve populations that don't otherwise have access what is priority? #critlib
  72. for some reason I keep picturing Whole Foods - is there a library version of that place? #critlib
  73. @ibeilin I kept thinking of the "green" disposable cups on the campus here. Ethical consumption everywhere! #critlib
  74. A1. How much support do you have within your department to be an ethical consumer? From within the larger library administration? #critlib
  75. A1: Makes me think about hope as a resource. Enviro and sj work is exhausting b/c how do we dismantle the capitalist kyriarchy? #critlib
  76. @ecmacinnis hope as resource makes me think about emotional labour & public service in a corporatIzed higher Ed environment #critlib
  77. Q2 Does a consumerist model of library service encourage a consumerist model of environmental responsibility in libraries?
  78. #critlib Q2 Does a consumerist model of library service encourage a consumerist model of environmental responsibility in libraries?
  79. @ibeilin A2: At the very least it doesn't HELP things. Assumptions that libraries = good meand no questioning implications. #critlib
  80. I know we are not talking about labor tonight but... A2 addressing neoliberal administrative structures, policies and practices #critlib
  81. @deweysnotdead tbh it's hard to separate environmental justice from labor justice #critlib
  82. @deweysnotdead lots of research showing that shitty labor laws track with massive environmental destruction #critlib
  83. @eiratansey exactly. My undergrad was environmental sociology. in my studies, I was amazed how much they were intertwined #critlib
  84. @eiratansey evidence showing strong correlations between ecological degradation and social degradation throughout history :-( #critlib
  85. @deweysnotdead @eiratansey discourse of ethical consumerism obscures exactly these kinds of connections b/w issues structurally #critlib
  86. @flippychippynip What was the impetus to "go green"? Were implications not discussed? #critlib
  87. A2: I keep wondering how this conversation relates to the library scrambling to "stay relevant" and seem "cool" conversation #critlib
  88. @nora_almeida yes - I had the same thought; I think we're very much pressured all the time to get all the shiny new things #critlib
  89. i think someone said it somewhere in a previous #critlib but the whole makerspace emphasis on printing plastic tchotchkes to be "cool"...
  90. @eiratansey Is that part of the push to use PLA instead of ABS? So they're biodegradable tchotchkes? #critlib
  91. @nora_almeida buschman may talk about this: he's done a bunch of work rel to generational mktng and neoliberalism in libraries #critlib
  92. A2 Seems likely. More we encourage our publics to see us as access points instead of stewards/guides, more expectation of *~stuff~* #critlib
  93. A2.1 That said, our efforts probably most legible through consumerist lens because it's dominant social frame & patron need #critlib
  94. @foureyedsoul I agree. This is the same reason that Bernie Sanders will never be president. #critlib
  95. a2: I think "user experience" while perhaps? a worthy pursuit also falls into consumption paradigm #critlib
  96. A2 When we assume students are consumers of education, all that matters is what they're consuming--pencils, ipads, instruction, etc #critlib
  97. @LaurenMWallis Also matters what institution consumes from the students? I really resent the time the uni consumes fr me in S role. #critlib
  98. @LaurenMWallis If you have insights as to how I to do this as a student when the uni has procedures that demand consumption ... :) #critlib
  99. A2 The phrase "romanticized notions of innovation" from Poggiali reading sticks out for me as a dangerous trend in librarianship #critlib
  100. A2: Where does the idea of teaching consumer literacy fall in our professional duty? #questioningconsumption #critlib
  101. Q2.5 Does this tendency undermine the ‘core values’ of librarianship?
  102. Q2.5: does this tendency undermine the core values of librarianship? #critlib
  103. @ibeilin A2.5: Can/should we assume the core values of librarianship are automatically anti-consumerist? #critlib
  104. @ecmacinnis no I guess not - but maybe they're 'neutral' (?!!) on consumerism? #critlib
  105. @ibeilin My immediate response to that was 'but nothing is ever neutral!' Librarianship developed in a consumerist context, ergo.. #critlib
  106. The marriage of "green" and consumerist ideas seems really prevalent in the lit on new lib bldg construction these days. #critlib
  107. Like, here's this new LEED certified building complete with an Apple store-like service model. Thanks. #critlib
  108. A2.5 We should consider the impacts our purchases have on other communities in terms of "the public good," not just on our own #critlib
  109. A2.5 Contributing to oppressive working conditions in China by purchasing Apple products is a problem in terms of "public good" #critlib
  110. This is great. So much to chew on. Next question! #critlib
  111. Q3 How can libraries not only be more environmentally responsible but also consume and produce less?
  112. Q3 How can libraries not only be more environmentally responsible but also consume and produce less? #critlib
  113. Anyone got an environmental sustainability initiative on their campus? #critlib
  114. @ifrank at my previous POW, the library had one. It kind of sputtered tho but it was a good idea #critlib
  115. @ifrank and current POW dies as well. Also ethical investing of endowment funds etc. #critlib
  116. @ifrank Yes and in fact our library was awarded two of the campus awards last spring. #critlib
  117. @cat_lager A3 serve as ROLE MODELS examining consumption habits. Model real change to each other, to our patrons. #critlib
  118. A3: I think too learning to model sustainability w/out being preachy or condescending. Being honest w/ourselves about our impact. #critlib
  119. My stepmom is watching a video on "Amazon Prime Day" as we speak! I think it's a good reflection of consumer mindset #critlib
  120. @KaraKaraPW Yes! Ethical consumerism as pedagogy. Perhaps unrealistic to expect systematic changes in how / what we consume #critlib
  121. a3 need to learn to balance professional drive to preserve/acquire as much as we can afford to w/concerns re sustainability #critlib
  122. a3.1 & these are sometimes [often] conflicting concerns/values & we have to learn to live with/acknowledge/work with this tension #critlib
  123. A3 Within my library department, we compost and have different receptacles for recycling printer paper, glass & plastic, etc. #critlib
  124. A3 I think Mandy Henk's book on sustainability & libs suggested that lib admins should subsidize greener transportation to confs #critlib
  125. A3 I'd love to see a funding model that incentivizes better transit, inc more time off work to do longer-form transport like trains #critlib
  126. A3 Aside from taking discarded books home for art projects? #critlib
  127. A3. Awareness is essential. And learning and teaching each other. Two things I think librarians are already pretty good at. #critlib
  128. Seek out student groups interested in the environment and listen to their ideas about e-waste issues on campus #critlib
  129. A3: Straight to librarian jail for anyone who prints an email :D #critlib
  130. @LaurenMWallis #critlib (psst...I do print off copyright permissions I receive via email)
  131. @LaurenMWallis haha yes! but also must remember that 'limitless' cloud storage also has a carbon footprint, not better by default #critlib
  132. A3 Don't always assume more collections or tech=better. Instead, how can we achieve our goals through means other than consumption? #critlib
  133. what do you think libraries consume too much of? #critlib - what can we cut out more of or entirely?
  134. @ibeilin we consume (read: perpetuate) products of unethical labor. There's a reason #OA has adopted enviro speak. #critlib
  135. @nora_almeida yes, the labor issues are inextricably entwined, hence the original plan for this #critlib convo!
  136. @ibeilin some colleagues' work: digital preservation is often done at a higher quality than needed #critlib [s/o @_karin_jones_ :)]
  137. @cat_lager I'm an acq person, so my brain immediately goes to collaborative coll dev and shared print archives. #critlib
  138. #critlib 1/2 Also sometimes accessibility and sustainability conflict. I process onscreen words slower than printed - should not stigmatize
  139. #critlib 2/2 resources being used to make materials and services more accessible. We can't all "be green" in the same way.
  140. A3 I wonder how we can share more resources w/o increasing dependence on electronics or fossil fuels for ILL delivery #critlib
  141. Q3: ask vendors & assocs not to produce print flyers, conf programs; same for #PD programs (thinking of Immersion @lisalibrarian) #critlib
  142. @nicholsonkp while could decrease # of pages thru careful edits w/o paper at all... requires e which is also consumption? #critlib
  143. @nicholsonkp Friend+fellow UIUC fac Eric has this awesome site w resources for green design incld printing:  http://re-nourish.com/?l=home  #critlib
  144. A3 Maybe switch to using less resource-heavy *nix OSes instead of Win/Mac, although that'd be a _^HUGE^_ cultural/resource shift #critlib
  145. A3.1 As corollary: if policies => can't buy devices with that goal in mind, try to set up program for end-of-library-life donation #critlib
  146. During the Carter administration, campus raised temp in bldings = mold in the library!. Conservation in 1 area led to problem! #critlib
  147. Q4 How can libraries/librarians take collective approaches, rather than consumerist-individualist ones, to environmental problems?
  148. Q4: How can libraries/librarians take collective approaches, rather than consumerist-individualist ones, to environmental problems? #critlib
  149. A4: Stop the textbooks. Lifecycle problem. Sustainability problem. Pedagogy problem. #critlib
  150. @nora_almeida Reminds me of issue w/planned obsolescence in the readings. Consumerism sustains itself easily. #critlib
  151. @ecmacinnis @nora_almeida and we have SO MUCH planned obsolescence in our library tech! #critlib
  152. @ecmacinnis For sure. I think it's about resistance and about alternative pathways. #critlib
  153. A3: libraries could continue to do what they do well: enabling people through education, showing how to contact their reps, etc. #critlib
  154. A4 consortial purchasing allows for fewer materials to be shared among a group of materials #critlib
  155. A4: Library-wide recycling (& composting) initiatives. At some academic libraries, I've seen limits enforced on printer output. #critlib
  156. @GinaMurrell1 that's such a hard one to enforce! patrons get angry about it. But it needs to be done #critlib
  157. @ibeilin @GinaMurrell1 challenge-cuts against addressing inequality. some students have $ to copy/print elsewhere but some don't #critlib
  158. @GinaMurrell1 Have experienced conflict between professors' expectations and libraries' limits.. can be rough as a student. #critlib
  159. @GinaMurrell1 uni where I taught before had limits on number if photocopies/printouts faculty could make for courses #critlib
  160. @GinaMurrell1 We have a per-printjob limit & someday will have a per student per semester limit (unless they buy more). #critlib
  161. A4 Consortial purchasing/use, esp of specialized/"demo" devices? Also workshops to teach patrons how to reuse tech, how to ILL, etc #critlib
  162. @foureyedsoul & our maker spaces/labs/etc should have tools & emphasis on maintenance, repair, and reuse #critlib
  163. @oksveta @foureyedsoul excellent point! We need to remember how much energy is consumed in the recycling process... #critlib
  164. @oksveta Absolutely! #makerspace folks, please incorporate/prioritize repair & reuse into your previously-scheduled awesomeness. #critlib
  165. a4 build relationships/provide resources & expertise to activists & scholars working on climate change & enviro justice issues #critlib
  166. Great example of sharing resources to reduce waste, but getting stuff from one place to another takes fuel! #critlib  https://twitter.com/historivist/status/621131903538696192 
  167. A4. Collaboration with community based activist groups? Offering of support/space/solidarity? #critlib
  168. So much of the 'green movement' is inherently classist, ableist, etc. I suspicion 'ethical consumption' is part of the reason why. #critlib
  169. I learned last week (at ReCAP) that shared offsite storage can actually save a lot of energy and waste, and preserve #critlib
  170. ...of course, ReCAP required a massive investment from rich institutions first... #critlib
  171. A4 Small step: find avenues (preferably local) other than the Dumpster for weeded materials or donations outside coll policy #critlib
  172. A good place for weeded materials would be  http://pagestoprisoners.org/  — perhaps similar or start near other libraries? #critlib @historivist
  173. @foureyedsoul @historivist challenge for state institutions. not always allowed to transfer state property. #ethicalquandry #critlib
  174. @lisalibrarian @historivist So state sometimes _requires_ discarding rather than transferring, even to another state facility? #critlib
  175. @foureyedsoul @historivist Can transfer (sometimes) to another state institution. But recall that most jails/prisons aren't "state" #critlib
  176. @historivist @foureyedsoul Yes, if donated materials, can refer. But, not weeded which was what @foureyedsoul had mentioned #critlib
  177. @foureyedsoul @historivist and those volunteer organizations that serve prisoners definitely are not state institutions #critlib
  178. @lisalibrarian @historivist Far too many private/for-profit prisons. The state-run ones wld prob rely on 3rd party progs like p2p #critlib
  179. @lisalibrarian @historivist ARGH! I intended donated as well but only so many characters. Good to know at least those can be. #critlib
  180. @foureyedsoul @historivist I just mean that they are county or federal rather than state. But, yes. #critlib
  181. @foureyedsoul @historivist The library's labor costs for donated materials is HUGE tho. Very expensive to accept donations. #critlib
  182. @lisalibrarian yes, I'm learning that now as I field all kinds of requests to donate in my new job! @foureyedsoul @historivist #critlib
  183. @historivist @lisalibrarian I was thinking same thing—might be useful to have a "please consider these programs as well as us" #critlib
  184. Q5 What are some 'ethical quandaries' that could become learning experiences for students, as Jennifer Poggiali suggests?
  185. Q5 What are some 'ethical quandaries' that could become learning experiences for students, as Jennifer Poggiali suggests? #critlib
  186. A5: Tracking the life cycle of resources is a good place to start. Which people, which resources, were sacrificed for my laptop? #critlib
  187. A5: Challenge the fuzzy feel-good of 'going green.' Are we doing it for activist cookies, or because the world's falling apart? #critlib
  188. A5: But at the same time, there are and should be different levels of engagement for different abilities and interest levels. #critlib
  189. @ecmacinnis yes, because it can so easily become another cudgel wielded by the privileged to maintain their superiority #critlib
  190. @ibeilin Exactly! Dehumanizing to have to defend my choices. Puts systemic blame squarely on individuals' shoulders. #critlib
  191. @BroAJK I know that modeling + advocacy doesn't = collective action but I feel like it's a start #critlib
  192. @BroAJK I think it's easy to lose sight of the why. (ethical) consumerism is also about lifestyle. It's automatic (or not). #critlib
  193. @cat_lager A5 re-use of paper printed on one-side can accidentally violate privacy #critlib
  194. A5: Quandary to provide access using systems in place v. rejecting corrupt systems and not serving those in need (info, food, etc). #critlib
  195. a4 obviously there are 1,000,000 things we need to consider 4 any decision, but sustainability shld be priority & not afterthought #critlib
  196. a library's carbon footprint is arguably much larger than "how many pages can students print?" look at building energy use... #critlib
  197. because I didn't see it a lot in this #critlib... libraries must consider how climate change threatens our missions in many concrete ways
  198. @eiratansey as we see more extreme weather from climate change, libs are going to play an essential role in disaster response #critlib
  199. @deweysnotdead @eiratansey Would love to see a #critlib chat about disaster response and libraries' roles.
  200. A5 #xcellent q 4 instruction/programming librarians, but I would say promote awareness building/cognitive dissonance #critlib
  201. A5 By purchasing this product/service or engaging in this initiative, what are my actions really supporting? And am I OK with that? #critlib
  202. Maybe ultimate sustainability questions: what actions preserve the most social good and how the heck do we tell? #critlib
  203. @ecmacinnis & how do we cope w/ the fact that there is no neutral/objective way to measure social good while still working for it? #critlib
  204. A5 Quandary: environmental impacts stemming from desire to teach/learn new technologies or do DH work #critlib
  205. @historivist Topic opens up really rich conversations around enviro issues IMO #critlib – esp. as tech is oft marketed as 'green'
  206. #critlib pitches & thanks to our excellent moderators
  207. Yikes! the hour has almost passed. Keep on going, but please share your pitches! #critlib
  208. Pitching for @projectARCC tonight - a dynamic group of archivists coming together to respond to climate change #critlib
  209. Thank you everyone for new resources to check out and new questions to consider. #critlib
  210. This is another #critlib topic that should be revisited soon, as well as the labor connection...
  211. A'right, #critlib - thanks for the great chat, as always! Hope you all have a great night :-)
  212. Thanks everyone for coming tonight! Again, if you'd be willing to storify, just holler. #critlib
  213. Another great #critlib chat! Thanks @cat_lager & @ibeilin for some very excellent moderating!
  214. thanks for an informative #critlib on a subject I find totally overwhelming...
  215. @cat_lager I can do it tomorrow evening while powering through last few episodes Twin Peaks #critlib
  216. Thanks for all the new people for participating in a great #critlib tonight. And thanks for topic & moderating, @cat_lager & @ibeilin!
  217. First time turning up at #critlib was very enjoyable. My thoughts are provoked. Thanks all!