Making meaning 20170326

My head is full after a busy ACRL conference and keeping up with the consumer health informatics course I’ve been teaching this semester. I’m used to playing multiple roles, but the role of graduate instructor is a new and demanding one. I dislike grading as a summative assessment activity; I would much rather give students 2-3 opportunities to create and improve a product. On the other hand, I have a limited amount of time to review and assess their work, particularly since I’m teaching this course on overload. So I’m stuck here, in the tension between what I think is best for student learning and what I can actually provide. I certainly have more empathy for teaching faculty now. To counter the frustration, I’ve been filling my interstitial time with reading and knitting rather than Twitter and news, to remind myself how much more rewarding creative activities are than getting angry about the state of the world.
Top of my personal list last week was The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith. I took two sorely needed vacation days since it’s spring break at MPOW. The past month has been so full of meetings and consults that my brain hasn’t gotten its usual process and decompress time. It was spinning frantically until it froze up, like the old Windows blue screen of death. I might have let it go too long.
This week, mostly during down times at ACRL, I dove into bell hooks’ feminism is for everybody. Her vision of feminism – “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” – is light years from my impressions of feminism growing up. I had strong female role models in many ways, but their strength was bound by their acceptance of the limits of patriarchy. I did not witness sisterhood, women putting women first. In fact, I was surrounded by the opposite. I don’t want my daughter to grow up as a woman the way that I did – being told to ignore unwanted sexual advances rather than speak out, silencing my voice because I was a woman studying science, or feeling uncomfortable with many women my age because they valued male attention over female friendship. I am so fortunate now, with a great job in a library that values my voice, with a husband who respects me as a partner in our life together, in a place where my whiteness affords me more than I can see. The challenge is figuring out how to lend my privilege to support women in a state with a horrible track record on health and women’s rights. Like carving out time to work with Indy’s chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice and Indy10 (the local Black Lives Matter group) and the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.
Back at ACRL, the Open Science panel with Eka Grguric, Vicky Steeves, Robin Champieux, and Jeff Leek was great. Eka offered a great introduction to open science, which was a nice refresher and introduced a couple of new resources I want to check out. Vicky talked about her unique role as a reproducibility librarian and the technical and cultural challenges in reproducing results. Jeff described his experience as an open scientist and shared some of his tech tricks (like using plain-text files on Github to drive his professional website). Robin wrapped up the panel by talking about building an open science community at OHSU. So now, I get to strategize with my fellow data librarian at the med library how to bring those ideas back to IUPUI. I had a small epiphany, I think, about the way in which open research extends the democratic principles of open access to the process of knowledge creation. It acknowledges that those conducting the study do not have all the answers and that some of those answers may come from unexpected places, even citizens who have a unique skill or perspective. That reproducibility is, in part, about opening up the research process and making explicit that which has previously been implicit and available only to “experts” in the field or topic. Hence, the power of citizen science efforts like Foldit and Galaxy Zoo. It definitely gives me something to discuss with our Public Scholarship Faculty Learning Community, who are working to increase support for and recognition of co-created knowledge with the community.

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