What’s Your Normal? Feature Series: “Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Great Battle”

During the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, Texas, David Lankes led a two-day conversation on empowering our communities to seek, define, and use our voices for positive transformation. A key point Lankes made during these sessions is the idea that libraries can, and should, play important roles to foster such change. He also offered that transformation of our communities needs transformation of the profession. First, we must ask some questions, converse, and seek understanding of our community’s constituencies.

APALA’s What’s Your Normal? feature series fosters such understanding through professional and personal insight. Within this spirit, I wrote the third essay, “‘Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Great Battle.’” Through it, I hoped to bring awareness that disability is not just something that manifests within an individual person’s body and mind. Societal forces and interactions create conditions that define ideas we take for granted: “disability,” “Asian,” “American,” “normal.”   These, in turn, affect us, our institutions, and our libraries’ patrons. Seeking to foster empowerment and transformation in our communities requires us to better understand the concerns and issues our patrons have, regardless of how these are clearly and loudly expressed.


Melissa Cardenas-Dow
APALA Web Content Subcommittee Chair 

What’s Your Normal? Feature Series: More Than Enough

The concept of “normal” is filled with ideas we often take for granted. It is also filled with anxieties about measuring up to those ideas, which can sometimes be too lofty to be realistic or attainable. One such idea is the notion that “normal” constitutes only one, undisputed identity. The second essay in the new APALA What’s Your Normal? feature series comes from APALA member Alanna Aiko Moore, the Interim Assistant Department Head for Information Services and User Education and the Librarian for Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies for the Social Science and Humanities Library at University of California, San Diego. In her essay, “More Than Enough: Embracing Multiple Identities,” Alanna offers a slice of her personal life—shaped by more than one identity intersecting others. She asks, “What does our community look like?  What intersecting identities are present?” A list of resources on bisexuality and multi-racial identity accompanies Alanna’s piece.

Thank you, Alanna, for a very thought-provoking essay. Felicitations to you and Jan!


Melissa Cardenas-Dow
APALA Web Content Subcommittee Chair

What’s Your Normal?: A New APALA Feature Series

APALA is launching a new series called “What’s Your Normal?” that will feature personal essays, accompanied by resource lists, highlighting the different kinds and forms of identities within APA populations.

The idea for this series is an essay, entitled “Six Yards of Normal,” written by Gurpreet Kaur Rana, who is Sikh Canadian and Global Health Coordinator at the Taubman Health Sciences Library at the University of Michigan. I had asked Preet to write an essay in response to the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on August 5, 2012, and what she came up with was an extremely personal and poignant essay, in which we learn a little bit about what is “normal” for her. I was especially struck by her last sentences:

We need to have a discourse on “normal”. You need to learn about my “normal”.  I need to learn about your “normal”.  We need to be aware and educated about the communities and people that make up the fabric of this country.  Our differences do not make us different.

Preet is absolutely correct about the need to have such a discourse. Hence, the idea for the series was born.

Six Yards of Normal” is the inaugural essay in the “What’s Your Normal?” series. The hope is that APALA members (and other interested parties) will heed Preet’s call to “learn about your ‘normal’” and offer a slice or two of what is ordinary or typical in their our individual lives but may be uncommon for or unknown to others. By sharing our stories, I believe that not only will we learn about each other, but we would also showcase the diversity of identities within APA populations.

Each essay will be accompanied by a list of resources, to which others are free to contribute. The links will eventually be compiled, expanded on, and put in the resources section of the APALA website. With the personal glimpses in the essays and the vetted resources in the lists, this series, thus, offers us the opportunity to provide both subjective and objective information.

If you are interested in contributing to the series, please send your essays, along with a list of resources, to Melissa Cardenas-Dow (melissa.cardenasdow[at]gmail[dot]com). These will be published at regular intervals and will go in the features section of the APALA website.

Jade Alburo
APALA President, 2012-2013


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