When LIU Brooklyn locked out its faculty, they sent us out onto the sidewalk with all of the skills we use every day to make teaching and learning great in the heart of the Blackbird Nation. As we use these skills to organize effectively against them, it is clear that they have made a critical mistake.
I am a member of the faculty locked out at LIU Brooklyn. I am a librarian, and we have faculty status at my university. I am also secretary of the Long Island University Faculty Federation, a role that includes lots of minutes taking, organizing agendas and files, and communication with the executive committee and the membership around issues related to our contract.
If this had been a normal fall, I would have been busy sending emails and making phone calls to set up the teaching calendar in the library for LIU Brooklyn librarians and faculty. I am Coordinator of Library Instruction, which means it is my job to connect librarians and classroom faculty to facilitate information literacy instruction for our students. We teach about 150 classes every fall in concert with our First Year Seminar, first year composition, and Core Seminar, as well as courses in the majors and our graduate programs. Every class that meets in the library needs to be assigned a day, a time, a classroom faculty member, a librarian, and a teaching lab.
Library instruction coordinators in higher education all over the country are doing this work right now, on massive scales. And I believe most of them would tell you the same thing: there ought to be a software program that does this, but there isn’t one. No Doodle poll, SurveyMonkey, or shared Outlook calendar can pull off a complicated teaching program in a library. It is, like most things, fundamentally reliant on the cultivation of human relationships. We have to see each other and talk to each other and call each other on the phone.
Now I am spending all of my time sending emails and making phone calls, and mobilizing my colleagues to send email and make phone calls on behalf of our struggle against the lockout at LIU Brooklyn. It turns out I have years of experience doing this. I am good at it. We are turning out in big numbers and making a lot of noise. And it isn’t happening because of a handout or a flyer but because we’re talking to each other, on the phone and on the picket line, organizing for a win.