Rutgers prof helps librarians avoid virtual microaggressions

A Rutgers University professor is scheduled to present a webinar next month for college librarians on “mitigating microaggressions in virtual reference.”

During the February 21 webinar, Professor Marie Radford and researcher Lynn Silipigni Connaway will discuss microaggressions committed during virtual library help sessions, such as the one advertised on Rutgers’ own library website.

The event description defines microaggressions as “intentional or non-intentional verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities towards marginalized individuals,” claiming that these heinous behaviors are “subtle, nuanced, and difficult to detect and address, especially in virtual environments.”

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The presentation will look at research on microaggressions, including “qualitative content analysis” of sessions from QuestionPoint, a “virtual reference service” that provides “24/7” online support for many libraries.

“In this time of heightened online conflict,” the description states, “attendees will be provided with research-based examples and guidelines to help them to both recognize microaggressions and to minimize them to enhance service excellence.”

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Radford’s other research includes “postmodern approaches to media stereotypes of librarians/libraries,” according to her faculty bio, which also notes that she “gives frequent keynote speeches and scholarly papers at national and international library and communication conferences and publishes widely in LIS [Library and Information Science] journals.”

Her latest book, co-authored with Gary Radford, is the 184-page Library Conversations: Reclaiming Interpersonal Communication Theory for Understanding Professional Encounters.

Campus Reform reached out to Radford and Connaway for comment, but has not received responses from either.

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