Please Don’t Call Me a Vendor

This is the text version of a tweet thread I wrote on my way back home from the 2017 DLF Forum in Pittsburg.

These are my feelings about toxic anti-vendor sentiment in libraries and archives that I’ve been keeping to myself for the past 3 years…

In 2014, I left my job as a digital archivist at an academic library to start working for a start-up company that was born out of a company that did consulting work for libraries.

Overnight, I stopped being one of “us” and became one of “them.” Since then, I’ve acutely felt the anti-vendor stuff that I was already well aware of from working in libraries & archives.

I’ve been quietly dealing with constant microaggressions & fighting the perception that I’m dirty/evil/unworthy of respect because I work for a company. The most common thing librarians/archivists tell me with a smile & twinkle in their eye is that I’ve “gone to the dark side.”

I wonder if this is an outcome of a problem Fobazi Ettarh named as vocational awe.

When you say I’ve gone to the dark side, are you telling me that your job will go to heaven & mine will go to hell when we die?

I get it, I really do. There are very serious issues in the vendor community (sexual harassment, proprietary formats/software, gender inequality, and it’s white af, to name a few).

Before this job, I would use the word “vendor” with a venomous V & looked down upon vendors because I felt that they weren’t as righteous as me. But I didn’t just get to that point by myself… I picked it up from my coworkers & mentors in libraries along with the other things they taught me.

I can’t begin to explain how painful it feels to be someone who’s made this transition. I started working in libraries and archives when I was 18. People in the community that I grew up in, that I got 90k in student loans for just so I can be a part, now treat me like shit on the reg.

But honestly, I can’t handle this type of toxic behavior anymore & for the first time, at #DLFforum, I stood up for myself.

Someone I just met but knew of me from my past work said with disgust, “oh you work for a VENDOR now? You went to the dark side!” I told them that I prefer to use the term “service provider” and that it makes me feel dirty when librarians/archivists say things like that to me all the time.

It was super awkward… but NOW I’M NEVER GOING TO STOP ADDRESSING TOXIC ANTI VENDOR SENTIMENT DIRECTLY.

This us VS them mentality does NOTHING to help the people that we are ALL working to serve TOGETHER.

If you hate vendors, please read up on white supremacist capitalist patriarchy so you can funnel your anger into the right direction.

And from now on, don’t come at me with this BS!

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