Author Archive: Meredith Farkas


Meredith Farkas

When Speech Isn’t Free

May 1, 2020

I take issue with the notion that libraries are ensuring all voices are heard when they let hate groups speak. Hate speech considered in a vacuum might look merely offensive, but when viewed in a historical context, that speech is inextricably linked with physical violence. Young men marching with torches and chanting “Jews will not … Continue reading When Speech Isn’t Free


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Representation Beyond Books

March 2, 2020

There are countless stories about the harm done when people grow up not seeing themselves reflected in books and media. This is the impact whiteness can have on those outside of the dominant group. Whiteness centers white faces, values, and experiences and is frequently invisible to those in the dominant culture. Whiteness isn’t the only … Continue reading Representation Beyond Books


Meredith Farkas

Your Library’s Story

January 2, 2020

The idea that the library data we all collect and share could be used against us is troubling, and it has left me thinking about how important it is that library workers find ways to control the narrative about our own value. In an era of shrinking budgets, libraries must find ways to tell our … Continue reading Your Library’s Story


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

A Job Well Done

November 1, 2019

Professional awards embody a vocation’s values. But what message is sent when the majority of awards recognize a single large innovative project or publication? When most recognition is for individual achievements, what does that say about how our profession views teamwork? As much as we might wish to believe librarianship is unique, it is still … Continue reading A Job Well Done


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Process Matters in Design

September 3, 2019

Participatory design is more than a needs assessment, a focus group, or even an ethnographic study—stakeholders actively contribute to defining problems and designing solutions. They are considered equal members of a research and design team rather than treated as research subjects. Given the diversity of library design projects and our user-centered focus, it seems a … Continue reading Process Matters in Design


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Is “Fit” a Bad Fit?

June 3, 2019

A major issue with hiring for cultural fit is the potential to stifle diversity. We are all influenced by cognitive biases, the shortcuts our brains are programmed to take to help us make decisions. Those biases often lead us to value and want to be around people who are more like us. Whether that means … Continue reading Is “Fit” a Bad Fit?


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Barriers to Diversity

May 1, 2019

Sometimes structures are designed to help the same people they unintentionally harm. Most LIS programs encourage or even require students to complete a practicum or internship where they get real-life work experience. For some, this can lead directly to a job at that institution; in other cases, LIS students gain valuable skills that make them … Continue reading Barriers to Diversity


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Unintentional Inequity

March 1, 2019

Libraries rarely design services to specifically exclude certain patron groups, but exclusion is often the unfortunate result of not considering the unique needs and circumstances of all community members. For example, after my son was born, I noticed that my local library offered programs for babies and toddlers only on weekday mornings. This made their … Continue reading Unintentional Inequity



In Practice by Meredith Farkas

When Values Collide

November 1, 2018

Another core value is intellectual freedom, and we have a long and proud history of supporting it in the face of censorship. Because we attempt to represent a diversity of perspectives in our collections, displays, and programming, most libraries contain material that some patrons might find offensive. But what if a perspective repudiates the dignity … Continue reading When Values Collide