Remote Anti-racism

You might want to adopt anti-racism practices, but concerns about COVID-19 may make you unsure what you can contribute or what role(s) you can take on. Librarians can help.

You might want to adopt anti-racism practices, but concerns about COVID-19 may make you unsure what you can contribute or what role(s) you can take on right now. 

Mother showing her young daughter the mural and shrine for George Floyd in Minneapolis, June 2020. Photo credit: Kate Kipling

Mother showing her young daughter the mural and shrine for George Floyd in Minneapolis, June 2020. Photo credit: Kate Kipling

This is where libraries and librarians can be a big help: we’re dedicated to finding answers to questions like  “What can I do?” Before we get to that question, take a quick look at linked resources for other questions you might have right now:

What can I read? 

See the BC Libraries Statement on Racism and Current Events, which includes a reading list, and the currently featured virtual book display, The Criminalization of Black Bodies.

What else are libraries doing to challenge racism?

Check out the online archives Documenting the Now, Project Stand, Blackavists, and Witness.org.

How do I find reliable news? 

Read the BC Libraries Blog entry Finding Reliable News, and learn a straightforward process for fact-checking news items you find in your social media feed during a time of crisis when many breaking stories are developing quickly.

What can I do?

These resources provide recommendations and suggestions for how to get involved, but at a safe social distance:

  • 12 Ways You Can Be an Activist Without Going to a Protest: This article, published after the events in Charlottesville, provides a list of recommendations for how to get started as a remote activist. (by Felicia Fitzpatrick in August 2017)
  • Find Your Representative | house.gov: One of the most impactful ways of making your voice heard is by reaching out to your representatives in Congress directly. Don’t know who they are? This website will tell you, and give you all their contact information.
  • How Can I Be An Activist Without Going To A Protest? This article provides additional ideas and resources for online and remote activism. (by Vanessa Pelz-Sharpe in November 2016)
  • WhiteAccomplices.org: Drawing from ideas and resources developed by POC, this website provides support to White people who want to find ways to act for racial justice. (Compiled by Jonathan Osler)
  • Activists pick up their phones and move online as coronavirus curbs protests: How have activists and other organizations, such as political campaigns, been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and limited in-person contact? How can those who want to volunteer for those campaigns and organizations help if there’s no door-to-door campaigning? This article details the new steps being taken and how everyone can get involved. (by Justine Calma in March 2020)
  • Scaffolded Anti-Racism resources: If you want to share materials with friends, recognize that people are at different places on a continuum of knowledge about and comfort with anti-racism. This Google Docs list provides readings and exercises appropriate to where people are on the anti-racism continuum. (Created by Anna Stamborski, Nikki Zimmermann, and Bailie Gregory in the Divinity School at Princeton)
  • Antiracism Resources The resources in this Google Docs list were compiled specifically for white parents to help raise children with anti-racist values. (by Sarah Sophie Flicker & Alyssa Klein in May 2020)
  • Protesting Safely If you decide after all that you just can’t stay in your house while history is unfolding, this Vice News article will help you protect your digital safety when you join a protest.

Finding Reliable News

The confusing deluge of news might make you uncertain that you’re basing knowledge of events on dependable sources. Here are some simple, quick tips to do your own fact-checking.

When emotions run high in ambiguous, fraught situations, people retreat to what they’re sure of: their own beliefs and values, often accompanied by righteous anger. Righteous anger feels good partly because it seems to simplify complexity and clarify ambiguity.

But when the online “reality” we’re seeing is generated by algorithms based on anger-driven shares and likes and reactions, reality can quickly become a hall-of-mirrors of outrage-driven and polarized information, or even misinformation. As a first step toward building a world based on justice, let’s build it on a firm foundation of facts. Which leads us to the first strategy for finding and sharing dependable information:

Stop sign

It’s that simple: just stop. Don’t retweet, don’t share, don’t like, don’t Google. Hit pause. Information-seeking takes slow, mindful attention. Anger wants to move fast and break things. Give your reaction a few minutes to settle down.

1. Step away

Social media is designed to be addictive, and moral outrage is the fastest-selling drug. If you find yourself scrolling endlessly and/or looking for chances to display your righteousness (or your high-minded neutrality) take a social media break.

2. Pop the bubble

Does your social media network mostly affirm what you believe? Pop that bubble and go in search of more diverse views. Not sure where to start for other perspectives? Try allsides.com, a news aggregator that sorts into right, left, and center.

Re-engage mindfully

Sign: "Take care of head" translated from Chinese characters

Here’s a fact-checking process you can use to check the truth of a story, based on the one in Mike Caulfield’s book Web Literacy for Student Fact-checkers:

1. Look for existing fact-checks

Check fact-checking sites on the internet: Snopes, factcheck.org, and Politifact are all dependable. Give each of those a quick look. If they haven’t covered it yet, take the next step.

2. Look upstream

A lot of news shared on social media is recycled: tweets re-packaged in online stories, details from news articles quoted in blog entries, or even news stories themselves recycled by other news outlets. Find the original source, where the story first entered the news cycle. The purpose: to evaluate whether you can trust the actual source, never mind your friend who shared it or the online article that summarized it.

3. Look sideways

If you’re unfamiliar with a source or news organization, go sideways: Google details about the news outlet and/or the journalist. Do other news outlets regularly quote them? Have they won awards? Has the journalist worked at news outlets you’ve heard of? A shortcut: NewsGuard is a browser plugin that checks news outlets’ ethical standards.

4. Look close

Now examine the original item itself, specifically looking for answers to these questions: What happened? Who did the journalist interview to find out? Are the sources named? (Is it just “a police spokesperson” or is it “Captain so-and-so”?) Did they talk to more than just officials (who are likely to spin a situation to their advantage)? Are there multiple perspectives, or does the whole story depend on one source? Are there photos or videos that confirm the claims? How much of the story is designed to influence rather than inform?

5. Side-eye photos and videos

Things people do with photos: mis-attribute (that was Paris in ‘07, not DC in ‘20), crop, and edit. (You know how easy it is to alter an image using a cheap or free app on your phone.) Things people do with videos: mis-attribute, edit, film from limited perspective, crop, and edit audio. IOW, always get verification that the image or video you’re looking at is complete, unaltered, and sourced and attributed diligently. First Draft News’ Verification Toolbox is what many journalists use.

When a story passes muster, do your part to nudge social media algorithms towards credible sources: share, like, and retweet the story passionately, and share how you confirmed it, to help your friends learn how to help build a fact-based reality.

Interested in more tools? Check out BC Libraries’ News Literacy guide.

Still angry? That’s understandable. Channel that energy into action.

BC Libraries, COVID-19 Edition, Part II

This is the second of two profiles of how BC Libraries staff have continued to bring you resources and services during the COVID-19 closing.

Since the closing of BC Libraries in mid-March, BC Libraries staff are working from home and at O’Neill and Bapst Libraries to provide you with the resources and services you need. The profiles and photos in this second part of a two part series show how–like the rest of the BC community–library staff have been adapting to new and unfamiliar circumstances.


My home “workstation” is my reading chair with a pillow on my lap and a laptop on the pillow in a 700 sq. foot apartment with a husband and a very barky dog. One day a week I venture into my actual work station in O’Neill as part of the access services skeleton crew. This has been challenging but in course reserves we love making a difference to students and I love being able to help them every day.

Cindy Frueh, Course Reserves Manager, Access Services
Cindy Frueh, Course Reserves/Media Manager, Access Services, processing reserve requests at her desk in O’Neill Library
Cindy Frueh, Course Reserves/Media Manager, Access Services, processing reserve requests at her desk in O’Neill Library

I truly miss browsing the stacks. I also miss random education conversations with patrons about something funny that happened with a teacher in the classroom or dissecting children’s literature. I miss people dropping by my office just to talk.

Tiffeni Fontno, Head, Educational Resource Center

Ravioli the rescue cat has proven to be a pro at adapting to changing circumstances while I work from home: instead of chewing through my laptop charging cable as I answer chat questions from library patrons, she now tries to eat fabric scraps and maim herself on the seam ripper while I sew fabric masks for the staff still working at the library. I still haven’t been able to train her to answer any references questions, and I’m fairly certain she can’t even read. Still, she’s figured out exactly where her treat jar is, so I’m confident that with a little tutoring, she’ll be able to locate the database list on the library website soon.

Jessica Hinson-Williams, Instruction Services Librarian
Ravioli, Apprentice Safety Services Specialist, learns how to sew masks, under the capable tutelage of Jessica Hinson-Williams, Instruction Services Librarian (not pictured).
Ravioli, Apprentice Safety Services Specialist, learns how to sew masks, under the capable tutelage of Jessica Hinson-Williams, Instruction Services Librarian (not pictured).

My COVID-19 workspace has definitely felt more confining. I’ve tried out several locations at home but have yet to settle definitely on one. The workday now seems more exhausting. Being bound to the computer has taught me just how much I appreciate “interruptions,” (i.e., daily encounters with colleagues and users), which is what I miss most. As I see it, the opportunity presented by the current crisis is twofold: 1.) developing a greater facility with various technologies; and, 2.) accomplishing some important behind the scenes projects. My message for colleagues and patrons is identical: Stay safe, and I miss you!

Steve Dalton, Head Librarian, Theology & Ministry Library
Steve Dalton, Head, Theology & Ministry Library (not pictured) has experimented with three workspaces at home. One was too hard, one was too soft, and one was just right.
Steve Dalton, Head, Theology & Ministry Library (not pictured) has experimented with three work-spaces at home. One was too hard, one was too soft, and one was just right.

Needless to say, working from home during a pandemic has been stressful at times. I can get overwhelmed conducting all of my daily activities out of the same space and trying to manage the intensified modes of communication patiently, and effectively. What helps me, though, is the thoughtful messages I get from faculty, students, and other colleagues who take the time to write a caring message in an email or in an instant message. They help me to remember that how I communicate during these times is just as important as what I communicate.

Jen Butler, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer , Theology & Ministry Library
Jen Butler, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer, Theology & Ministry Library, taking a cat-break with Samson while working from home in her nice weather work space.
Jen Butler, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer, Theology & Ministry Library, taking a cat-break with Samson while working from home in her nice weather work space.

Working in Library Systems, I can perform most work remotely with relative ease. I don’t have a dedicated office, so I move around a lot: working on servers while sitting on the couch next to my son, doing design work at the dining table, or sitting at the kitchen counter for virtual meetings. With daycare closed, the biggest challenge has been balancing work and family time. I no longer have the benefit of clear separation. I never expected work to look like this, but having the family around also helps maintain good humor.

Luke Gaudreau, Discovery Systems Librarian, Systems
Luke Gaudreau, Discovery Systems Librarian, multitasking at home.
Luke Gaudreau, Discovery Systems Librarian, multitasking at home.

Were it not for the horrible, dire situation fueling the move to remote work, I’d be 100% happy with it.  The online meetings and consultations are going very well, the library is working so hard to meet user needs and support students and faculty in this transition, and the coffee in the staff lounge is so much better…

BC Libraries staff member

Kevin Saffo, Interlibrary Loan Lending Specialist, keeping the books coming and going in the ILL office in O'Neill Library.
Kevin Saffo, Interlibrary Loan Lending Specialist, keeping the books coming and going in the ILL office in O’Neill Library.
Luc Benjamin, Morrissey ‘21, scanning microfilm in O'Neill Library.
Luc Benjamin, Morrissey ‘21, scanning microfilm in O’Neill Library.
Lynda Musilwa, Morrissey ‘20, pulling books for scanning and ILL in O’Neill Library.
Lynda Musilwa, Morrissey ‘20, pulling books for scanning and ILL in O’Neill Library.
Sr. Maria Okeke, Lynch ‘20, pulling and shelving books for scanning and ILL in O’Neill Library.
Sr. Maria Okeke, Lynch ‘20, pulling and shelving books for scanning and ILL in O’Neill Library.
Mary Lafferty, Administrative Assistant, keeping the administrative office in O’Neill Library running on time.
Mary Lafferty, Administrative Assistant, keeping the administrative office in O’Neill Library running on time.
Nicole Kubishta, Evening Access Services Assistant, O’Neill Library, scanning for ILL and course reserves in O’Neill Library's ILL office.
Nicole Kubishta, Evening Access Services Assistant, O’Neill Library, scanning for ILL and course reserves in O’Neill Library’s ILL office.
Sally Wyman, Head, Collection Development & Research Services, overseeing a major temporary shift to connecting patrons with online materials from her home office.
Sally Wyman, Head, Collection Development & Research Services, overseeing a major temporary shift to connecting patrons with online materials from her home office.
Valdon Sewell, Morrissey ‘22, pulling and reshelving books for ILL and scanning in O’Neill Library.
Valdon Sewell, Morrissey ‘22, pulling and reshelving books for ILL and scanning in O’Neill Library.
Sarah Melton, Head, Digital Scholarship, keeping digital library initiatives running under the watchful supervision of her cat, Chimera.
Sarah Melton, Head, Digital Scholarship, keeping digital library initiatives running under the watchful supervision of her cat, Chimera.
Young Moon, Head Librarian, Resource Acquisition & Management, in his home office, a.k.a. dining room.
Young Moon, Head Librarian, Resource Acquisition & Management, in his home office, a.k.a. dining room.

BC Libraries, COVID-19 Edition

This is the first of two profiles of how BC Libraries staff have continued to bring you resources and services during the COVID-19 closing.

Since the closing of BC Libraries in mid-March, BC Libraries staff are working from home and at O’Neill and Bapst Libraries to provide you with the resources and services you need. The profiles and photos in this first part of a two part series show how, like the rest of the BC community, library staff have been adapting to new and unfamiliar circumstances.


My biggest challenge with working from home has been finding *just* the right spot in my house: somewhere with 1) a door that closes 2) a desk (I ended up creating one with a filing cabinet turned sideways, a board, and a clavichord) and 3) adequate Wifi. That last was the hardest part! The best part about working from home? Not commuting!! With two hours of extra sleep per day I’m finding I can actually be somewhat coherent in those 3:00pm meetings! Now the question is, how to keep that up when we go back?


Emily Singley, Head of Library Systems
Emily Singley, Head of Library Systems, working from her home office

Three staff members continue to work onsite at Bapst Library, scanning books and articles for Interlibrary Loan. We miss the students and we miss huge tours rumbling up the Gargan Hall staircase. We look forward to welcoming the BC community and our visitors back to the library and directing them to Gargan Hall and our lovely stained glass windows.


Bapst Library Staff Members
Anne Marie Dolan, Evening Supervisor, Bapst Library, scanning ILL request, empty candy machine in background (Photo: Laurie Mayville)
Arlene Feinberg, Daytime Coordinator, Bapst Library cropping an ILL scan (Photo: Laurie Mayville)
Continue reading “BC Libraries, COVID-19 Edition”

Student Employee Profile: Jenna Grossguth

Meet Jenna Grossguth, a sophomore who, under normal circumstances, works at O’Neill Library’s circulation desk.

Jenna Grossguth, BC ‘22

First things first, who are you? Where are you from?
Jenna Grossguth, from West Warwick, Rhode Island

What graduating class are you? And your major?
Class of 2022, Business major with an Italian minor

What made you decide on your major?
It offers a broad set of skills and will hopefully help me to break through into the fashion world.

Are you working on anything interesting right now?
Aside from schoolwork, I tend to write poetry in my free time.

How is your time at home?
I like the relaxed environment that I am in, as both my parents work during the day. It is nice to have the complete silence that you can’t typically find at BC.

What is/was your role in the library?
As a student employee, I hold both stacks and desk shifts which include locating and reshelving books, helping patrons find books, checking in/out books to patrons, and any and all things you could think about working in a library!

Which shift is your favorite to work? And your least favorite?
My favorite are desk shifts, as they’re the most laid back and let you interact with the most people. My least favorite are stacks shifts, but specifically when I have to shelve books as this typically takes me an hour to shelve one cart.

How has the transition to online classes changed your learning experience? Do you like this better or do you prefer being in-person?
It has definitely proved to be a challenge. Learning for me is harder when instructed online. I find it hard at times to find the motivation. Thankfully, my professors have been quite understanding with how they grade assignments since this change?

Have you started using library services differently since classes went online?
Aside from not having to log my weekly hours at the library on [online scheduling software], I have yet to find a way to use library services differently. [Note: the library has updated many services to meet the needs of online learning.]

What is your favorite thing that the library offers?
Therapy dog days. Sometimes I even get paid to work with these furry friends!

Any advice/tips to help students get the most out of the library?
If you are wondering if the library has something, just ask! Chances are we do! [Note: We can usually get it through Interlibrary Loan, or now, during Coronavirus, electronically via many options.]

How has working in the library changed your view?
Working in the library has helped me make strong friendships that I would not have made if I worked somewhere else. My bosses are pretty great too ☺

Are you watching anything good on Netflix right now?
Law and Order: SVU, Grey’s Anatomy, and Hawaii Five-O

Found any fun ways to occupy your time that aren’t Netflix?
I like to take my two dogs, Bella and Willow, on weekly walks to give myself some escape from all the craziness that’s going on.

Any words of encouragement for the BC community?
Everyone should hang in there. We are a community and no matter how hard it may seem to be at times, through each other we can find the strength to get through this tough time. Eagles are meant to rise!