Blogger Advocacy and Legislation Committee

Still Building!

We librarians are still building our Everyday Advocacy muscles, but we need to add one other thing to the mix, diversity. How can we as librarians connect advocacy and diversity? The talk of the day, the happening of our time, the attention grabber of our consciousness is the conversation taking place currently about diversity. The events in Ferguson, Missouri and similar events in other locations, the insensitive remarks spoken at a National Book Award event honoring Jacqueline Woodson and the on-going We Need Diverse Books campaign are stories which have captured our attention.

At breakout sessions during an ALA Midwinter meeting on diversity sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and ALSC, some takeaway ideas included the following:

  • Use parents and caregivers as resources.
  • Create virtual programs to reach untapped communities.
  • Develop partnerships which are crucial.
  • Create more diverse books.
  • Contact Barnes and Nobles to suggest a list of books that are not on its shelves, and then ask why.
  • Go to patrons wherever they are.
  • Be a change and a leader in your community

Issues raised during the meeting included: There should be more diverse staffing at publishing companies, there should be more characters with disabilities in literature for children. Jason Low of Lee and Low Publishing, suggested that a diversity problem is a cultural problem. Librarians asked these questions: How do you create a more diverse library? How do you reach out to diverse communities? ALSC and the CBC asked librarians in attendance,   what are some gaps you think we can fill? There were even more questions. One of the speakers asked the audience, what changes are you willing to make as librarians? When will you make a change, in one week, one month, one year?

There are many unanswered questions. There are even some final questions to ask ourselves: What are some of the challenges that your library is facing concerning diversity? What are the gifts you bring to the conversation? Gifts is a key word here.

We librarians bring our gifts every day to the jobs we do as librarians. It is part of the everyday advocacy that empowers us. Conversation is the thing that is being added to the mix, and the thing that will ultimately bring closure to the unanswered questions.

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Today’s blog post was written by Barbara Spears, a member of the ALSC  Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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