All of the meetings I listed on my week ahead post were productive and useful and that’s usually a recipe for a good attitude going into the weekend, but this time I still ended the week feeling stuck and disheartened. A meeting that wasn’t on my calendar when I wrote that post was our annual capital planning meeting to discuss space issues and needs — not the internal to the library stuff that we manage, but the big-picture and big-ticket pieces that we rely on the university to support. And the capital planners and facilities managers and project managers are dealing with major, huge issues out of their control — inflation and supply lines — and you can just see it in their faces. It’s a lot.
I am a root causes, fix it the right way kind of person and that is always going to be a challenge as a middle manager in a big organization — stuff’s out of our control, that’s just real. But when the world is this broken, I need to be able to think on a level that is not root causes — because if I can’t that’s a recipe for anxiety and burnout and the kind of deep existential dread that we’re experiencing enough in our non-work lives — but thinking at non-root causes can also feel kind of pointless. This is a tough thing to navigate.
Anyway, that’s why I want to shout out that I finished Beyond Accommodation: Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Disabled Library Workers by Jessica Schomberg and Wendy Highby. I mean, I am always pretty proud when I manage to finish a book, but what I really want to shout out is the book itself.
A lot of times when I read things that are about building an inclusive workplace, no matter what the focus of that inclusion is, I come away with one of two things — a really good understanding of the structural issues creating the marginalization, exclusion or oppression and why I should want my workplace to be inclusive, or a handful of concrete strategies that I can take or an individual library worker can take, with no real connection back to root causes. As a big-picture, root causes, type of person I gravitate towards reading the first type of book, which means that I often end up with an unfocused desire to do more and an ongoing feeling of not enough.
This book navigated that tension really beautifully. The authors discuss and theorize and analyze root causes and structural issues (and what needs to be done about them) while also using local, organizational and individual lenses to address the same issues. It was a breath of fresh air in a frustrating week and I highly, highly recommend it.