ALA Midwinter 2018

Community, equity, and storytimes #alamw19

This is the Midwinter session I was most excited for, and it did not disappoint! CiKeithia Pugh, from The Seattle Public Library, opened the session by reminding us that access and inclusion are not equity. It will take intentional, focused work to shift power to our communities. Pugh encouraged us to ask ourselves how we’re sharing power in our work. It’s something I’ll be reflecting on.

As librarians, it falls to us to make sure that the things we say we value are reflected in practice. We need to be mindful of dominant power structures: how they affect our work, our own role as individuals connected to a powerful institution, the ways we cling to the power we hold.

When we use data to create programs, are we evaluating what we’re not being told? Pugh encourages librarians to supplement every statistic with community-led data. It’s all a part of her process for creating equitable programming (outlines in the picture below), which she used in creating SPL’s Loud at the Library program.

There were so many takeaways here (seriously, I have pages of notes), but a point that really resonated with me was that we serve entire families and there’s a good chance that caregivers are eager to collaborate and code sign programs. One thing that I love so much about public libraries is that—in theory—they’re open to everyone. This session was a great reminder that it takes thoughtful work to make community members feel welcome and there are endless opportunities to do better! There’s always room for reflection and growth.

If you’re interested in learning more, much of the content is covered in OCLC’s Supercharged Storytimes course.

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