Library Instruction West 2020
Seattle, Washington
July 22-24
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Friday, July 24 • 9:30am - 10:45am
Harm Reduction & Threat Modeling for Library Instruction

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Harm reduction and threat modeling are helpful ideas to explore library work and teaching. In the Library Freedom Institute, a six month digital privacy training program for library workers, we learned that harm reduction is a concept from the public health field that destigmatizes risky behaviors, while working to give people safer options. Threat modeling is a framework for identifying safety risks and the changes that can be taken to minimize those. Rather than shaming people for their behavior, harm reduction recognizes that we make decisions out of the complexity of our lives, and we can seek change while also meeting people where they are. A harm reduction approach aims to make choices less stark: even small changes with students or in your organization make you safer, and your community potentially more just.

These concepts can frame discussions around the parts of libraries we and students engage with on a daily basis, encouraging us to consider the strata of information privilege and the interplay of limits and realities. For example, how can you best work within systems that are built to hurt you (such as digital tracking embedded in our online research tools)? Historically, US libraries have been called to “educate the masses” and assimilate others into White culture. This extends into the standard one-shot in an academic library, as we reinforce ideas of what counts as scholarly or authoritative, often without questioning underlying power structures. We will use harm reduction to frame a reflective conversation about these and other concerns that participants bring.

Attendees will participate in demonstration versions of in-class activities that the presenters frequently teach, including a threat model focusing on the instructional technologies they use in the classroom and a digital privacy spectrum activity, and will leave with tools they can practice with students in the classroom and with colleagues.

avatar for Kelly McElroy

Kelly McElroy

Student Engagement & Community Outreach Librarian, Oregon State University
Kelly McElroy is the Student Engagement and Community Outreach Librarian at Oregon State University Libraries & Press. She received her MLIS and Master of Archival Studies from the University of British Columbia. She organizes with her communities as a coordinator of the annual Zine... Read More →
avatar for Claire Lobdell

Claire Lobdell

Librarian, Greenfield Community College
I'm the distance education librarian at Greenfield Community College, where I teach information literacy skills to in-person and online students. I’ve worked for close to a decade in libraries and archives. In 2017, I published South Windsor, an installment in the Images of America... Read More →

Friday July 24, 2020 9:30am - 10:45am AST
MGH 228 (Seats 35)

Attendees (3)