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University librarians now trained on how to crack down on microaggressions

Gone are the days when the worst thing you might receive from a librarian is a stern look and a “shush!”

Apparently the dangers of microaggressions lurk even within campus libraries, so much so that the staff from the University of Minnesota libraries requested and received a professional development training on them.

With that, a 36-page “Identifying and Responding to Microaggressions” PowerPoint training was developed and presented in 2014, a training still currently offered online on a University of Minnesota website as a resource for librarians.

The educational tool aims to “discuss how microaggressions can impact the work we do in libraries” and identifies “some ways to respond to microaggressions,” calling them “subtle,” “ambiguous” — even “unintentional.”

Among the advice?

The training states that when correcting library users for using a microaggression, make sure it is “safe” to do so, and also “stay away from being sarcastic, snide, mocking or arrogant (even though this can be very tempting).”

It encourages librarians to educate people on the proper way to conduct themselves, as well as to help them “unlearn” bad behaviors.

As for the microaggressions themselves, the PowerPoint warns statements such as “that’s so ghetto” and “where are you from” are a no-no. Asking an Asian person for help with math or science is also a microaggression, as well as saying that “the most qualified person should get the job,” the lesson instructs.

“Men and women have equal opportunities for achievement” also a microaggression, as it suggests the playing field is even, it adds.

So-called macro-level microaggressions include “a college or university with buildings that are all named after white heterosexual upper class males.”

In a statement to The College Fix, the University of Minnesota Libraries said that in 2014, libraries staff requested the professional development training regarding microaggressions.

“The Libraries worked with its Diversity Outreach Collaborative to offer such a training for staff,” the statement said. “The objectives of the workshop were: Introduce participants to the concept of microaggressions; facilitate conversation about how microaggressions can affect the work in the libraries; develop ideas on how to address microaggressions when they happen.”

“The content of the training is still posted on the Minitex website (a partnership between the U of M and Minnesota Office of Higher Education) as a resource for library staff. This was a one-time informational workshop for staff and is not part of any formal curriculum.”

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About the Author
Peter Van Voorhis -- UC Irvine