Working in digital libraries and so many other technically-related areas, the concept of Communities of Practice (CoP) is important for how we all work, learn, and grow our programs and our colleagues, because our systems and people are different locations and our connections and impacts extend across vast networks. Communities of practice are social learning systems comprised of folks who share a profession. I’ve read a lot (I think) about CoP, but I don’t remember the readings including discussion of unions, labor coalitions, and councils. This is confusing, and it may be that I’m forgetting other readings or that I haven’t read enough. I’m posting this now as a reminder for me to do more research on CoP in relation to unions because it seems like unions do exactly the work of communities of practice. Unions do so while serving as the organized body for workers to advocate together (e.g., for safe working conditions, benefits, policies, etc.) where so much of learning the work and building the community is about the work, and it’s also about the people who do the work.
This post is also a quick thank-you to the North Central Florida Central Labor Council for the spaghetti dinner last week! The dinner was wonderful, and the speakers were fantastic! One of the speakers was Theresa King, President of the Florida Building & Construction Trades Council, and she could have been speaking at a digital library or academic conference (depending on the field, and the ones being their best selves) as she shared on rigor, expertise, love, solidarity, support, and working together for the best of our work and the good of us all. She was speaking as am expert in building trades and construction and unions and labor. The presentation could have had a few changes and been for libraries or other academic fields, with the changes being for fields and unions/labor to CoP. I am excited to do more research on CoP, labor unions, and ways of working because this connects my daily work as a librarian and with the Alachua County Labor Coalition! Thanks to the Alachua County Labor Coalition for always being amazing (including for being the connection for attending a spaghetti dinner that opens new growth areas)!