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



In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Beyond Fake News

June 1, 2018

A 2016 study of the web evaluation skills of middle school, high school, and college students by Stanford University’s History Education Group found that young people are quite likely to be duped by misleading or false information. Even Stanford’s own students, when evaluating articles from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the conservative fringe group … Continue reading Beyond Fake News


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Get Out of the Library

May 1, 2018

Many libraries have turned to embedded librarianship as one solution to better serving patrons and demonstrating value to their communities. The term comes from the expression embedded journalism, which was first used at the start of the Iraq War in 2003 when journalists traveled with military units and reported from within the action itself. Similarly, … Continue reading Get Out of the Library


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

We Can, But Should We?

March 1, 2018

In K–12 and academic libraries, this is becoming increasingly possible with learning analytics systems that aggregate student data to make trends visible. The systems also allow advisors, instructors, and other stakeholders to use the trend data to identify a student at risk based on specific characteristics or behaviors. They allow educators to intervene, often before … Continue reading We Can, But Should We?


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Learning to Teach

January 2, 2018

In that first professional job, at a small library, all librarians—from the director to the systems librarian to the head of technical services—taught classes. None of us had been prepared by our coursework to teach, and no on-the-job training was provided. While my initial efforts to teach information literacy were cringeworthy at best, I learned … Continue reading Learning to Teach


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Less Is Not More

November 1, 2017

When I was in library school 14 years ago, I didn’t hear anything about workload, emotional labor, self-care, or burnout. What I did hear a lot about was how librarians are creative, resilient, and good at doing more with less. My first job as a librarian was at a small library where we were constantly … Continue reading Less Is Not More