Women's Studies Section
Note: this is an archived HTML copy of the spring 2000 WSS Newsletter.
WSS Annual Program:
Come share your insights, ideas and experience of women's studies scholarship and librarianship at the turn of the millennium. Join one of four group discussions on the following topics:
We hope the session will stimulate
thought and discussion and help the Section chart new
At a recent meeting of a women's studies faculty reading group at my institution, the evening was devoted to a discussion of an article called "The Impossibility of Women's Studies" by Wendy Brown (Differences, 1997). The essay offers a series of arguments (several having to do with the category of "woman" and the problem of defining a course of study) about why women's studies has become increasingly untenable as an academic discipline. The essay drew the largest number of faculty of any of our previous meetings. Everyone wanted to talk about Brown's essay, but no one seemed very sympathetic to her arguments. However, I personally found her description of some of the difficulties in building and maintaining a women's studies program in the nineties to be quite compelling.
The closest Brown comes to a recommendation is a question about whether current women's studies courses might make more sense if they were integrated into large interdisciplinary programs (not unlike the mainstreaming women's studies scholars talked about in the 80's). Although this certainly didn't sound like a solution to me, it did make me wonder (since I was prepared to grant some of her arguments), whether the moment might not have arrived to consider a similar step for women's studies librarianship. Do we still need women's studies specialists in academic libraries? I do agree with Brown that a great deal of excellent feminist scholarship has become an integral part of many (though I would say, too few) academic disciplines. Still, I am a long way from concluding that what we need is a more decentralized structure for acquiring or supporting feminist scholarship. I know that there are institutions without women's studies librarians, but I hope that they are not the model for theu pcoming decade. Wendy Brown was an interesting read. One day there may be no reason to maintain a specific institutional locus for women's studies teaching or library support. For now I have to agree with my women' studies colleagues that the millennium has not yet brought us that moment.
If you are interested in discussing
this or any number of other issues bearing on women's studies librarianship,
please attend our program at ALA in Chicago. It will be called Taking
the Temperature of Women's Studies in the Year 2000 and it will provide
the opportunity for in-depth discussion about both abstract and practical
issues. These include interdisciplinarity, instruction, electronic resources
and the place of women's studies in academic institutions. The program
will open with the presentation of two new awards in women's studies.
I hope to see many of you there.
The WSS Awards Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the first annual ACRL WSS awards for achievement in womens studies librarianship:
Searing and Westbrook will each be presented with their awards, a cash prize of $1,000, and a citation at the WSS Program at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago on Monday, July 10, at 9:30 a.m.
Susan E. Searing is Library and Information Science Librarian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Searing has been instrumental in the creation, development, and recognition of womens studies librarianship as a field. Through her truly exemplary scholarship and her dedication to and passion for the field, she has served and continues to serve as a role model for many. Ms. Searing was a founding member of the Womens Studies Section, and served as the Womens Studies Librarian for the University of Wisconsin System from 1982 to 1991. Among her publications are Women's Studies: A Recommended Core Bibliography, 1980-1985 (co-authored with Catherine R. Loeb and Esther F. Stineman, Libraries Unlimited, 1987), and Introduction to Library Research in Women's Studies (Westview Press, 1985). She was the 1992 recipient of the ALAs Scarecrow Equality Award.
Lynn Westbrook is Assistant Professor in the Texas Womans University School of Library and Information Studies. The Significant Achievement award honors the important research presented in Westbrooks book, Interdisciplinary Information Seeking in Womens Studies (McFarland & Co., 1999). Interdisciplinary Information Seeking in Womens Studies provides information critical to any librarian involved in the support of womens studies scholarship in an academic setting, and addresses fundamentally important questions for womens studies librarianship that have not been previously explored in a systematic way. The data Dr. Westbrook presents, as well as her analysis, represent a major step forward.
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Womens Studies Section
Members of the Womens Studies Section (WSS), the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), and the Feminist Task Force (FTF) met during the Midwinter meeting to talk about ways in which the goals and work of these three groups intersect. During the meeting, participants worked to identify important issues, to pinpoint the shared work of WSS, COSWL and FTF, and to develop some strategies for future action.
Participants in the discussion identified the lack of pay equity for women in the field, the necessity for cooperation among the womens groups in ALA, and the urgent need to recruit new members to these groups as three issues of critical concern. The following actions were suggested accordingly:
Participants also addressed other concerns, including the need for better salary and job negotiation skills for women, more career path mentoring to help women move into management positions or to move from one work environment to another (e.g., academic library to commercial sector), the marginalization of womens studies programs on academic campuses, and the lack of existing research relating to technology and gender issues.
The Introduction to Womens Groups at ALA is held each Annual conference. This years session will be on Saturday, July 8 from 11:30-12:30. Check your conference program for the location, or watch WSS-L or FEMINIST.
Not a member of those listservs? Then...
On the Web:
ACRL Womens Studies Section
Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table
Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship
LAMA Women Administrators Discussion Group
Core Lists in
Women's Studies: A WSS Project
The 2000 Core Lists are now available! They are intended to assist librarians in building womens studies collections. Each list consists of 20 to 75 books currently in print, with the most important five to ten titles starred. Each January, the lists are updated to drop out-of-print books and add newly published titles.
Are you interested in creating a new list? You will be asked to update your list each year. We need volunteers to update the lists for philosophy, international politics, and politics. Please contact either of the editors for more information if you are interested.
Current editors of the lists are:
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The WSS Newsletter is looking for an assistant editor for 2000-01. The position begins right after the Chicago Annual Conference, and the person will serve as editor during 2001-02. This is a great opportunity to get published and learn all about the Section. Interested? Contact Regan Brumagen (email@example.com or 607-431-4440) for more information.
Social and Education Committee
Present: Pricilla Atkins, Sally Willson Weimer, Connie Phelps, Shelley Arlen. Absent: Melinda Brown, Jennifer Evans, Kalina Grewal, Anne Moore. Guest: Victoria Williamson
The Committee approved the annotated version of the Women's Political Activism Web Sites list that we have compiled. Shelley Arlen will finalize the draft and determine how to add it to the WSS web site.
In light of the committee's name change to Instruction Committee, we discussed what our goals should be and what projects we might work on. We believe that the committee should concentrate on Goal 1 of the Strategic Plan:
We decided to create a web site for librarians who are or will be giving library instruction to women's studies classes--primarily of use to new librarians but also perhaps of use to those who have been teaching for these classes. We will particularly focus on electronic databases of use and give examples of good keyword and subject searching, using terminology of the field.
To begin, we will examine print and online sources. Shelley Arlen will find the citation for a related article by Ruth Dickstein, et al. (And here it is: "From zero to four: a review of four new women's studies CD-ROM products." (Women's Studies on Disc, Women's Resources International, Contemporary Women's Issues, Women "R"). Author: Dickstein, Ruth.; Evans, Marcia.; German, Lisa B. Source: The Serials Librarian. Date: 1998.)
Specific assignments were made:
For each database, we will give a brief description, tell how it is useful to women's studies, give examples of search strategies, use appropriate (and helpful) terminology where possible, and indicate truncation symbols.
Committee members who were not able to attend the meeting can email Shelley Arlen (firstname.lastname@example.org) with their database choices to work on.
At the Annual Conference, we will bring drafts of our work and discuss further objectives, databases, etc.
--Shelley Arlen, Chair
Electronic Resources and Access Committee
At Midwinter the committee continued work on the womens studies journals core list project. The committee appreciates all the suggestions that were sent in response to our postings on the section discussion list. During our discussion in San Antonio, we decided to create a short (25-30 titles) list that would be appropriate for any college or university library wanting to support study and research from a feminist perspective. The basic list we compiled at Midwinter includes these titles: Differences, Feminist Collections, Feminist Periodicals, Feminist Review, Feminist Studies, Frontiers, Gender Issues, Hypatia, Journal of Lesbian Studies, Ms., National NOW Times, New Books on Women and Feminism, NWSA Journal, off our backs, Signs, Womens Review of Books, Womens Studies International Forum, and Womens Studies Quarterly. In Chicago we will complete the project by adding titles more specifically relevant to the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.
--Sandy River, Chair
Collection Development Committee
--Flora Shrode, Chair
NEW -- Research Committee -- NEW
The Ad Hoc Research Committee met at ALA Midwinter to define the purpose of the Committee and discuss whether the group should seek regular committee status. For those who are not familiar with the genesis of this committee and where is going I will give you some background. At Annual last year, a group of us were discussing the fact that many of us come to WSS from a research background, some of us not having women's studies as our main job description but still wanting to be involved in the library discipline. Some section members are interested in research in WS but gravitate to other committees in order to be involved in the section. It was proposed that an Ad Hoc Research Committee be developed in order to discuss whether this is truly a section need and to explore what the Committee would do. In addition, we could then propose that the group become a standing committee. Marlene Manoff asked that the group not meet during regular section committee meetings since many of its members are currently active in other committees.
The group, consisting of: Dolores Fidishun, Chair, Cindy Ingold, Kelly Hovendick, Laura Micham, Theresa Tobin, Marlene Manoff, Sue Searing and Kris Gerhard met over lunch after the discussion meeting. The group felt that a Research Committee would definitely fill a need within the section and that we should seek status as a regular committee. Some ideas of what the committee might do included: data collection for section use and general purposes (this came out of the discussion meeting), encouraging and facilitating research collaboration and consultation, disseminating publication and presentation possibilities, promoting research through the generation of research topics and publicizing funding possibilities (ex. grants.), propagation of good research and discussion of current research issues. The Committee also came up ideas of various ways to do some of the above activities.
It was decided that we should propose that the committee be made official looking at the following schedule:
This schedule will allow input from WSS members and time for discussion, plus, it will allow those who wish to move to this Committee to transition off the committees and tasks they currently serve.
We invite anyone who is interested in this group to contact Dolores Fidishun at email@example.com or 610-648-3227. We will be meeting at Annual at 12:30 on Saturday after the Introduction to Womens Groups at ALA session. Location will be announced later.
We also invite comment on the draft of the proposed charge of the Committee (send comments to Dolores at the above address):
The Research Committee will identify needed research, facilitate collaboration in research, facilitate the acquisition of skills related to research and publishing, and promote an awareness of existing and ongoing research related or applicable to womens studies librarianship and resources.
Key: SHER = Sheraton Chicago, HYT = Hyatt Regency Chicago, INT = Hotel Intercontinental
The Womens Studies Section Newsletter is published semi-annually by the Association of College and Research Libraries Womens Studies Section, a division of the American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. (800-545-2433, ext. 2519. The Womens Studies Section Newsletter is available to all section members at no additional cost.
The WSS Newsletter welcomes contributions from readers. Send articles, items of interest, and news to the editors, preferably in electronic format. ©American Library Association, 2000 ISSN 0895-691X