What Standards Do and What They Don’t

I had a super busy spring schedule of talks, and spent a bunch of it trying to work through my feelings about the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and the Standards for Information Literacy for Higher Education and what these two documents have to tell us about the professional infrastructure of “information literacy.” I gave three versions of this talk, first at Purdue University Libraries, then at UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, and finally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, at the Pennsylvania Library Association College & Research Division Spring Workshop. I am grateful to the librarians, library students, and library faculty who shared thoughts and feedback on this initial foray into understanding the relationships between standards and power in the field. Meghan Sitar and I have a chapter that explores some of these questions forthcoming in one of the volumes due out soon from Kelly McElroy and Nicole Pagowsky. Thinking more about and through power and professional practice standards will be the subject of my sabbatical research next spring. In the interest of getting stuff out into the world, I thought I’d post the content of the latest version of that talk here:

I want to begin by thanking Leslie Christianson for the invitation to join you here today, and the work she and her colleagues have put into organizing today so that everything feels easy, like no work was done at all. I’d also like to thank Jim Frutchey for driving me to campus and for the ride he’ll give me to the bus station at the end of the day. I don’t know how to drive, and am always so impressed with people like Jim who do. I also want to acknowledge the work that went into making sure we have a working projector and microphone this morning, for getting me this bottle of water, reserving this room, setting up enough chairs for all of us, and taking care of all the other tasks that went into making this morning happen. I don’t know who did that work, but I am grateful. We don’t tend to notice the work of the person who sets up the chairs unless there aren’t enough chairs in the room, in which case it becomes all too obvious. I have organized events like this one before, and the only time anyone has noticed is when the coffee has run out.

This invisible, infrastructural work, and the material objects, spaces, and potentials that infrastructural work creates, is what I’d like to talk about today. Just as the labor that produces and maintains infrastructure—ordering chairs and coffee, making sure the right dongles are in the room—is often invisible, infrastructure itself isn’t seen if it works well. As librarians, we often measure our success by the seamlessness of our transactions, by our capacity to disappear beneath a user experience we’ve engineered our way out of. And even when things go wrong, when our link resolvers end in error messages or our proxy servers fail, we tend to talk about the traffic and not about the roads. Today, I’d like to talk about the roads.

Like you, I work in an academic library in 2016. My job consists of many things, from fixing the stapler to teaching information literacy at the thresholds (or at least trying to demonstrate that I am doing that) to sitting in meetings trying to decide how to handle delays in our interlibrary loan processes. One part of my job is the periodic generation of reports related to outcomes assessment and strategic planning. These reports are meant to cyclically update my dean and other administrators on the status of various projects, from the capital plan to increase student seating, to meeting learning outcomes benchmarks in our information literacy program. Most recently, we were directed to find a way to track student engagement with the library as a result of outreach initiatives in the Writing Across the Curriculum department, recently relocated to the fourth floor of our library as we try to make ourselves a learning commons by throwing away all of the print periodicals. Very little of what I do does not end up measured and much of what we get in terms of resources—book budgets, floor space in our buildings, new faculty and staff lines—depends on our ability to generate data and produce a narrative that demonstrates that we are meeting defined outcomes goals.

Where do those goals come from? Sometimes, they reflect something we care a lot about. My colleagues Kate Angell and Eamon Tewell are currently assessing whether a particular classroom exercise in our sophomore seminar program successfully teaches students to be critical of received notions of authority. We care about that a lot. But we are also asked to measure things that we care about only a little, usually related to outcomes developed to align with goals at the program, campus, university, and institution level. We hear a lot about alignment. Our institutional goals are aligned with our regional accreditor’s standards for excellence in higher education. Adjacent to these institutional compliance requirements, we align our departmental and program goals to various standards, guidelines, and frameworks that emanate from our professional body, the Association of College and Research Libraries. While these standards are not binding, they do authorize us to conduct much of the work we do in our libraries.

We also develop our assessment tools in relation to these goals and objectives. Where we fall short in our measurements, we design changes to our practice that respond to those weaknesses, and then we measure the effectiveness of those changes. We do pilots and surveys and focus groups, use rubrics and pre-tests and post-tests. And all of it is fodder for the reports that end up filed somewhere, used for purposes that are not always obvious or even real, I suspect, required for compliance with various policies generated inside and outside of our institutions. When I get back to campus on Monday, colleagues and I will begin assessing information literacy learning outcomes in a batch of nursing student research papers, and this will consume many faculty hours over the next few weeks.

All of this work happens inside of an infrastructure of outcomes and measurement generated by the existence of standards. And yet, we rarely have discussion of the daily effects standards documents have on our work lives. For example, when our field engaged in the process of revising the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and produced the Framework for Information Literacy in its place, we debated the content of each document vigorously. But we did not spend much time talking about the reasons we want professional standards like these in the first place. Instead, we focused our debate on the content of these documents—do we believe that threshold concepts explain student learning, or not?—and left the sausage-making of strategic planning, outcomes assessment, and budget allocations largely outside of these conversations altogether. I am interested in a discussion of the productive work that standards do for us, as well as what they don’t do. Such a conversation shifts the discussion to one of infrastructural effects that, I think, might help us think more strategically about the ways we interact with these documents in real life.

WHAT IS INFRASTRUCTURE?

I want to step back a bit to talk about what I mean when I talk about infrastructure. The Oxford English Dictionary defines infrastructure as “A collective term for the subordinate parts of an undertaking; substructure, foundation.” Normally when we think of infrastructure, we think of physical things, sewer pipes and highways and bridges, all the mechanical stuff of material life. When it works, we don’t see or think about infrastructure at all. We turn on the lights, not thinking about the wires. But when infrastructure goes wrong, the effects can be enormous. Think about the people of Flint, Michigan, turning on their faucets to get a glass of water, only to find that infrastructure problems—the leaching of lead into the water pipes—are filling their cups with poison.

Infrastructures are enormous, complicated, and require plans that can scale. Essential to these plans are standards. Standards ensure that the width of train tracks is consistent so that trains can travel across state lines, or that books are collated with other books on the same topic on library shelves. They are instruction manuals that make infrastructure possible. Standards are tools that order the world so that it can be navigated and comprehended without being made new each time. As Lawrence Busch put it in his book “Standards: Recipes for Reality,” standards are “the ways in which we order ourselves, other people, things, processes, numbers, and even language itself.” Standards, along with rules, regulations, and mores, produce a legible, coordinated, and organized world, governing interactions among and between people and things, allowing us to reliably insert a plug into a socket to access energy. Infrastructure produces the ground we stand on, the heat and light, the water, the roads we drove to arrive here today, the flight patterns that kept my plane from crashing into another in midair. Standards are the instruction guides that produce this infrastructure.

Libraries are networks of nested and intersecting infrastructures, all of which are governed by standards that gain efficiencies of practice and enable collaborative and cooperative work. The American Library Association describes four general areas where standards and guidelines are recommended for professional librarian practice: service, procedural, educational, and technical. Classification standards like the Dewey Decimal System, BIBFRAME and MARC 21 organize resource description. CQL and Z39.50 govern information retrieval systems. NISO generates standards that order nearly every aspect of library technical practice, from the metrics and statistics we gather to the quality of paper deemed acceptable for our collections. RUSA develops behavioral guidelines for reference librarians. Information literacy librarians are governed by a “constellation of documents” from ACRL that define what information literacy is.

The past few years have been marked by a shift from the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education that were passed in 2000, to the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education, adopted by ACRL at Midwinter this year. Professional conversations have focused on the differences in content between each document. One is seen as prescriptive and the other suggestive; one mechanical and the other expansive. Leaving aside these conversations for a moment, I want to discuss what both documents share: status as a defining document of information literacy authorized by our professional body to guide information literacy instruction in academic libraries.

As standards—and despite its protestations, I would classify the Framework as functionally a standard (and more on this later)—these documents do infrastructural work in our field. They produce the contexts in which many of us do our work as teaching librarians: the classrooms we can schedule as our own, the capacity to hire more librarians like ourselves, and a reason for standing in front of a classroom each day. Standards are productive, and I’d like to talk next about four infrastructural effects that standards have for librarians like us.

  1. Standards produce professional identities

Standards help produce professional identity. When I talk about identity, I mean, the way the self understands itself to be a certain kind of self. We all have multiple and intersecting identities. I understand myself to be a woman, a runner, a white person, a librarian. Identity is a way of relating to the self, as well as a way of relating that self to others. I see myself as a runner, which allows me to connect with other people who see themselves as runners, and sometimes we go for runs together. Similarly, I see myself as an information literacy librarian, which allows me to connect with others who also see themselves as information literacy librarians. As a consequence of this shared identity, we sometimes gather together to talk about what it means to be information literacy librarians.

Standards do the work of helping us construct professional identities as we define ourselves in and against them. As an instruction librarian, I have opinions about the Information Literacy Competency Standards and about the Framework, and I am a teaching librarian in some ways due to my engagement with and opinions about these standards documents. If identity is understood to be discursive—I am what I talk about with others—then the standards are a part of my discursive identity. How many of us were called in some way to have an opinion in the Framework debate over the last two years? How many of us had or continue to have strong opinions about the Framework or the Competency Standards? When we discuss and debate standards, we develop our professional identities. Lisa O’Connor has described the information literacy standards movement in academic libraries as in part about “securing a jurisdiction,” or defining a space for ourselves where we consolidate our professional identities through the iterative practice and discourse about of this thing called information literacy. To anticipate a critique, it’s certainly true that we don’t all structure or research or practice or discourse around standards documents. Lane Wilkinson, head of instruction at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has said that he and his librarians have roundly rejected the new information literacy Framework, finding that it is not useful. Even a wholesale rejection requires engaging, considering, articulating, and proclaiming, and this discursive work, produced by the existence of standards, plays a role in defining ourselves as librarians to ourselves and to each other.

  1. Standards assist us in articulating claims for resources within our institutions

Standards help us to articulate claims and advocate on behalf of those claims for resources within our institutions. Inherent in standards is a claim to an ideal or correct way of doing or being. The Information Literacy Competency Standards, for example, posit an ideal “information literate student” who is brought into being by teaching librarians whose lessons are organized around those competencies, which can then be measured so that librarians can prove that they have been successful. This approach to teaching and learning has been heavily critiqued, called a Procrustean bed by Christine Pawley—students are violently forced into a model that does not fit them all—and challenged by Maura Seale as an example of the ways that dominant ideology reproduces itself at the expense of less enfranchised others. If we leave these critiques aside for a moment, we can see that standards have effects beyond the immediate context of a classroom teaching and learning situation.

Because standards posit an ideal, we can measure whether or not our students are achieving that ideal. Are we good enough, or not? Let’s find out! Because of this rather simple and straightforward definition of the problem, standards offer us simple and straightforward way of reporting on our work. Using these reports, we can ask for resources—more faculty librarians, new technology in our classrooms, mandated time in classrooms—to help us improve our work. An example: In my library, we have used the information literacy competency standards to design assessment tools including pre- and post-tests for new students as well as and rubric-based assessments of end-of-program student artifacts. Each year, we use these tools and others to report on how well our students are achieving relative to the standard. Our assessment process is quite mechanical, and requires us to report data on comparative student learning strengths and weaknesses: students are better at defining an information need than they are at retrieving relevant information, for example. The report is designed so that we can never achieve the ideal—which is maybe the point of ideals—and are always, annually, pointing to an area where we could do better. We use our gathered data to develop interventions that we think will help us improve student learning in identified areas—those interventions always require resources of some kind. If we can provide evidence that information literacy instruction improves student learning outcomes in some areas, and that we need more of it in order to be successful, we can make an argument that we need more resources to help us do more information literacy instruction. Sometimes we get them. In recent years, the administration has started demanding that all new faculty line requests include evidence that outcomes assessment reports have been diligently completed and filed, and that assessment of those assessment reports demonstrates that we are improving.

Cathy Eisenhower and Dolsy Smith lay out the argument for standards as a mechanism for generating resources in their contribution to Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods. They posit that mechanical, ‘assessable” approaches to instruction have been invaluable in terms of helping librarians demand institutional resources that give us classrooms to teach in and students to teach. The assessment-focused corporate university puts the library in what Eisenhower and Smith call a “stuck place,” forced to accommodate these kinds of demands in order to have classrooms to teach in. What we do in those classrooms can easily sidestep the information literacy standards and focus on more critical content or method. The strategic deployment of standards for resource claims is what matters.

To anticipate a critique: to some extent I worry that this is the fantasy sold to us by higher education administrators as well as proponents of the movement for “articulating library value.” As I watch resources get distributed in my university these days, the process seems much more brute—resources flow to the priorities of the university president and select deans and faculty members who hold power for other reasons. There is a future paper here, I think, looking at the work that stories about value and demand do in libraries specifically and higher education more generally.

  1. Standards help us speak to other standards

The capacity to speak in standards helps us speak to others who also speak standards. Lisa O’Connor has done great historical and archival research that links the project of information literacy to the project of higher education reform in the 1980s and 1990s. Institutionalizing standards helped give librarians a place at the higher ed reform table. Specifically, O’Connor points to the 1983 “Nation At Risk” report and the second Bush administration’s Spellings Commission as triggers for the information literacy standards project. The 1983 report generated a series of recommendations that included increased emphasis on standardized testing and assessments. The 2005 Spellings report extended this emphasis, introducing quality and accountability, concepts from the private sector into higher education. In both cases, librarians did not have a significant voice in the discussions. O’Connor argues that the American Library Association’s first task force on information literacy arose as a response to these exclusions, convened to define for librarians and external bodies the role of librarians in these conversations. By the time the Competency Standards were adopted, this purpose had been woven into the warrant of the document itself. Information literacy was more than what librarians did during the day; information literacy required “the collaborative efforts of faculty, librarians, and administrators.” Standards in libraries not only help us argue for a place at other people’s tables, they help us make a table of our own, one that we can then use to invite others to sit down and talk on our terms about the centrality of the library in higher education.

The new information literacy framework is even more explicit about the role such documents play in connecting librarians to other higher ed conversations: “The Framework opens the way for librarians, faculty, and other institutional partners to… create wider conversations about student learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the assessment of learning on local campuses and beyond.” Standards documents are intended to work as bridges between the library and other institutional players.

A particular example of this work can be seen in the incorporation of information literacy as an outcome or goal at the scale of regional accrediting bodies. My institution is accredited by the Middle States Council on Higher Education. The “characteristics of excellence” that governed Middle States accreditation between 2006 and 2015 listed ‘information literacy’ as a part of their “educational offerings” standard. Colleges and universities that sought accreditation by Middle States had to show evidence that their students had achieved excellence in information literacy. ACRL’s Competency Standards then became a necessary tool for institutions that used them to demonstrate to accreditors that the standard had been met. Middle States recently revised their standards, and information literacy was dropped as an essential skill in initial drafts. Librarians fought hard to keep information literacy in the Middle States standards because, as long as it is a necessary condition to receive federal funding, librarians can argue for their primacy within the institution. Standards facilitate those connections. After much lobbying, information literacy is now back in the Middle States accreditation standards, although with much less prominence, sitting nested inside a dependent clause, along with oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, and technological competency.

Again, I wonder if the value of embedding information literacy in the standards of the accrediting bodies is overstated. Information literacy is not included in the standards of the Higher Learning Commission that accredits schools in the Midwest with well-resourced commitments like the University of Illinois and the University of Indiana. Information literacy is not listed as a criterion or a core component. Instead, interestingly for this talk, libraries are listed as part of “the infrastructure and resources necessary to support effective teaching and learning” and are grouped with “technological infrastructure, scientific laboratories, libraries, performance spaces, clinical practice sites, and museum collection.” Information literacy competency skills can be found in Criterion Two (Students are offered guidance in the ethical use of information resources) and Criterion Three (the institution engages students in collecting, analyzing, and communicating information; The institution provides to students guidance in the effective use of research and information resources), but they are not named as ‘information literacy.’ So perhaps the value of being included in other standards documents is another fairy tale we’ve told and tell ourselves.

  1. Standards pull power and resources toward the standards-makers

Standards are about world-making. Professional standards are about deciding how people think about themselves, what they do when they are at work, and how they communicate with others about their theories and practices. Standards are about power. But standards are about more than this arguable kind of infrastructural power. They also produce and distribute power to the people who create the standards. These are real people, many of us know them, the people who propose these standards, invite feedback, incorporate some but not other feedback into revised standards, re-propose those revisions, and finally vote to file, approve, and distribute standards documents as representative of the official positions of the professional organization, and, by extension, at least to some, of the profession itself. These people have power. This is not to say that they are bad people—holding power is not a terrible thing, although I’d argue it should be distributed as broadly and equitably as possible. But I think it’s useful to clarify and articulate the kind of power that the standards-makers hold.

Much of this power is about making decisions that distribute material resources towards some projects and not others. Since the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education was filed in 2015 and approved at the latest Midwinter meeting, we have seen these material implications. Resources, both human and financial, have flooded toward the Framework as it becomes a central node in professional discourse about information literacy. ACRL has approved funding for a Visiting Program Officer responsible for working with librarians to implement the ideas in the Framework and appointed an Advisory Board “for the growth and development” of the Framework. Regional information literacy conferences like the Augustana Information Literacy Workshop, the Indiana University Information Literacy Colloquium, and last year’s Information Literacy Summit at Moraine Valley Community College focused their work on the Framework in 2015. In 2015, hosted a Fall Focus session addressing the Framework. ACRL 2015 offered workshops about the implementation of the Framework and ALA Annual 2015 saw both updates on the Framework meant for a large audience and hands-on sessions to help librarians “get started” using the document. My university paid Silvia Lu $300 to come and help us understand threshold concept theory. Discussions of the Framework became so central to the professional discourse that some academic librarians have professed “Framework fatigue.”

This concentration of resources in the hands–and careers–of librarians affiliated with the Framework is not wrong or bad, it is simply a structural outcome of the production of a standardizing document authorized by the professional association. Similar consolidations followed the adoption of the Competency Standards, which contributed to the rise of an industry of outcomes assessment tools like SAILS, conferences like the Library Assessment Conference, and projects like the large scale Value of Academic Libraries initiative. We might do well to consider what programs are not pursued because of the ways that Standards distribute resources.

As I was drafting this talk in March, I was also following along as people tweeted from the Critical Librarianship and Pedagogy Symposium at the University of Arizona. Maura Seale of Georgetown presented on the institutionalization of critical perspectives, arguing much like I have above that critical approaches to information literacy have become sites for the concentration of power and resources as well. For example, PALA CRD has paid me to share my own critical perspectives with you today. I found her argument quite provocative, especially in light of some of the ways critical perspectives have found their way into the framework. What does it mean for a field when what positions itself as outside of or in opposition to it begins to be institutionally incorporated?

I’ve argued that people use standards as a way of accessing and organizing several kinds of power. Standards can be used to shape professional identities, provide platforms for making institutional resource claims, make a place for libraries at the education reform table, and distribute resources among some of us in the field. They do the work of building infrastructure. They make our worlds predictable and organized. Next, I’d like to talk briefly about what I think standards don’t do.

  1. Standards don’t reveal the truth

Standards documents exist in part to define ideal types—that is their reason for being, their warrant. The content of those ideal types—whether we’re talking about idealized students in the Competency Standards, or idealized liminal states in the Framework—becomes highly contested. As long as we believe that what is articulated in standards documents is representative of what’s true, we’ll expend a lot of professional energy arguing over what is right. We are still in the midst of watching this happen. Just this week I watched as two information literacy thought leaders argued on Twitter over whether the Framework or the Standards provided a better mode of understanding concepts in visual literacy. Rather than taking either one as simply an analytic tool that enables a discussion of how to think about visual literacies, and then thinking about visual literacies, the discussion turned on which documents was “better” at organizing that thinking, which document was “more true.”

The Standards revision process has been marked by vigorous argument about whether or not the Framework presents an “accurate” picture of what information literacy is and what information literate students should know, do, and be. Some of us have argued against the adoption of the Framework on the grounds that “there’s just no scientific evidence in favor of threshold concepts as a successful way to teach students anything” (Klipfel, 2014) or dismissed the Framework as “pedagogical gimmicks” (Wilkinson, 2014). Others of us have defended the Framework as an “authentic and useful statement on information literacy and learning” (Swanson, 2015) and claimed that threshold concepts are “grounded in research on teaching and learning (Townsend, Lu, Hofer, and Brunetti, 2015). The process of gathering public comment on the Framework produced more than one thousand pages of commentary from outside the revision committee (ACRL Information Literacy Task Force, 2014), the bulk of it arguing one way or the other about the accuracy and correctness of the Framework concepts, or whether the Competency Standards were a better reflection of what is true about information literacy.

The questions librarians asked about the Framework largely took as a given that the Framework would reveal and reify some truth about information literacy: Are threshold concepts real? Can they be proven? Can teaching under a threshold concepts framework improve student learning? Were the Standards a better description of what librarians should teach and what students should learn? These discussions largely left aside analyses of the work that the Framework would do, the effects of fixing norms of information literacy—really, any norms—and of attempting to settle once and for all (until we revise them again) a professionally-authorized standard for information literacy instruction in libraries.

I’m interested in the ways that the Framework positions itself as something other than a standard, stepping away from the role it plays as a center of professional and institutional power. In its efforts to distance itself from the Competency Standards, in its insistence on the local and the contextual, the Framework somewhat paradoxically makes an analysis of the power wielded, produced, and distributed by professional institutional documents like itself more difficult to articulate. Why are we all tearing our hair out trying to get the language of the Framework right? Because we believe it transmits to ourselves and to others something about “what’s true” about information literacy. If we determine that this is work that standards documents can’t do, that they’re about something else instead, we can talk more about the work that documents like the Framework do in our daily work as practitioners, and at the scales of the institution and the profession.

  1. Standards don’t determine or define local practice

Along with the voices we heard embracing and resisting the new Framework, we also heard people saying none of it mattered: the competency standards didn’t dictate my teaching, and neither will the framework. While I think this still represents an engagement of some kind with centralized professional documents, these voices are also a reminder that what happens in an individual classroom between teachers and students is always a bit unruly, and will always escape the boundaries set around it by these recipes for reality. If anything, standards documents are productive of teaching practices that exceed them. When standards make a claim to the universal, they necessarily—structurally—exclude things that lie outside of or adjacent to what’s defined. I’ll be talking about this a bit in relation to cataloging and classification standards later this afternoon. Defining something always means defining what is not that thing, spurring some of us to imagine what could exceed the thing, or be outside of it, or resist the existence of the thing altogether. This is an insight I take from queer theory, that everything is also productive of resistance to itself. Demarcating a standard also demarcates the space of argument against it. Without the Framework, many of us likely would never have read enough about threshold concepts even to throw them out as not useful. It’s only when they’re drawn to the center that they become the thing we push back against.

Some of us use infrastructural documents like the Competency Standards or the Framework to structure our classroom practice. Others of us just show up and do our thing. And others of us take infrastructural documents and imagine what they leave out of their definitions of teaching and learning, and then do those things. Materially, in the space and time of the 50 minute one-shot or the for-credit course or the embedded series of sessions, standards documents have helped put us in those classrooms, but the extent to which they tell us what to do is something different.

STANDARDS AND POWER

I want to return to where we are now, together in this room, while I talk about these ideas and hope that you will talk about them with me. As you can probably tell, I have mixed feelings about the Competency Standards and the Framework. As strategic documents, I think they are both incredibly productive, they have been productive of the thinking I have shared with you here today. I really got interested in this topic after watching it unfold on twitter, as people deeply involved in the development of competency standards bristled at the framework while framework-fans rejoiced at seeing the ways they think, talk, and teach about information make their way to the public, professional center. That’s exciting, when you imagine yourself as marginal.

But I want to shift our discourse a bit away from asking whether things are good or bad, right or wrong. I think we have more prescriptive literature telling us how to do our jobs than any one professional field really needs. Instead, I’d like to talk about what these prescriptive documents make possible and what they don’t for us and for our students.

In his book Seeing Like a State, James C. Scott talks about the ways that standards produce navigable, apprehendable worlds. He writes about how things we take utterly for granted—standards for recording birth dates, determining land tenure, and passing down last names—are all standards that enable state functions like taxation and the administration of public health measures. As soon as the state mandates taxes or mandatory vaccinations, people begin to evade taxes and claim exemptions from vaccination. People organize politically to protest the ways that tax dollars are spent and lobby for changes to school board regulations about immunization. Rarely do people protest the standards that make these state functions possible. Few people organize to resist the use of standardized naming practices or birth dates, because those enable other forms of social life too. They are about parties, not just taxes. Scott argues that the power of standards operates invisibly, producing what he calls “the vexed institution that is the ground of both our freedoms and our unfreedoms,” standards both limit and enable our everyday librarian life, and I look forward to thinking more with you about the ways that they do both.

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