Following the 2016 RLC national gathering in Brighton, a “Barriers to Engagement” document was created on our RLC Sandstorm site. It was advertised via email and Facebook, and was the pinned tweet for @RadicalLibs until February 2017. The aim of the document was to facilitate positive feedback that would help RLC improve its behaviours and practices.
This blog post is an attempt by the admin committee to create clear action points from the document. In the spirit of openness, the document is still available so you can see how we have tried to create an action point for each suggestion. These are only the ideas of four people and are not expected to be concrete rules for RLC; instead they are intended to form a basis for further discussion and additional suggestions. It is expected that these action points will change over time, as we become aware of other barriers.
This blog post will be discussed at the 2017 RLC national gathering in Glasgow to ensure that RLC is actively attempting to mitigate barriers to engagement within the group. Through this, we hope to encourage greater diversity among those participating in RLC activities and committees.
Special thanks to Katherine Quinn, who was prompted by one of the suggestions to contact other organisations and discover what they were doing in that area. Her full report can be seen at the end of the shared document.
Organisation of RLC
1) Clearer information about the admin committee has been put on the website, which includes inviting volunteers to be part of the committee and also information about RLC’s history [coming soon]: ‘Who is RLC’
2) A glossary of terms and suggested reading have been created to provide pointers for those who feel that they need a better understanding of radical theory in order to participate in discussions:
3) A manifesto has been created, but this has not really been added to. Maybe this could be one of the points for discussion at the 2017 national meet-up?
4) It is acknowledged that training is available, which could help RLC to reflect on itself and our aims – for example, http://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/training. Making use of this training would only be possible at a national meet-up, but we would then still have the problem of effectively excluding those who were unable to attend the event. Maybe this could be one of the points for discussion at the 2017 national meet-up?
As far as we are aware, there are no longer any regular regional meetings. The following points are things to be considered should regional meetings start up again, or for the next national meet-up in July 2017. A document has been created and will made available on the website, the contents of which set out the things that should be taken into consideration when organising RLC events. It is possible to add to this document, so please send any suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @RadicalLibs.
5) Venue accessibility should always be the main factor to consider when arranging venues for events and meetings – for example, try to avoid organising events in pubs or bars so that this does not make people feel excluded on the ground of religious beliefs, and when organising London events at LARC, try to book the downstairs room for mobility reasons.
6) Communications accessibility should always be the main factor to consider when facilitating discussions – for example, using colour communication badges http://autisticadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ColorCommunicationBadges.pdf. There are various existing source of information on this topic, for example:
7) Encourage a child-friendly atmosphere and/or try to establish crèches alongside meetings as required. For the 2017 national gathering in Glasgow, Jess Haigh has volunteered to lead with this and is on the organising committee who are going to be asking “if you would require childcare in order to attend the meeting, what would your needs be?” to best plan for this.
8) When determining the date on which to hold a meeting, use date-picker software like Doodle, Loomio, or Sandstorm’s Framadate to select the date that is best for the majority of people.
9) There are some tools that can be used to encourage participant involvement and enable people to get the most out of an event. However, it is essential to be aware that these may directly conflict with certain other steps taken towards ensuring the accessibility of communications (for example in the case of red badge wearers under the colour communication badge system).
KQ to look into proposing a session in Glasgow that enables collaborative feedback discussion about questions such as “why do I want to be in RLC?” “if RLC didn’t exist as it is, what would I want in its place?” and “do I feel part of what I have described?”
Examples of facilitation tools are available from e.g. https://www.trainingforchange.org/tools/facilitation
10) We obtained contributions to a document of recommended actions and practices of radical behaviour, which was used to create a blog post. https://rlc.radicallibrarianship.org/2017/02/15/radical-librarianship-in-daily-practice/
11) It was suggested that we could have a specific, journal-based chat on Twitter – i.e. #radjc – to look at articles relating to radical librarianship. This would provide both for theoretical discussions and for conversations around more practical topics, utilising both #radjc and #radlibchat. Although this would be affiliated with- and promoted by RLC, people should not feel obliged to participate if they do not want to, or if they cannot spare the time. In order to do this, we would need volunteer(s) to organise #radjc.