It’s a somber time at council this last day of #alamw19
We have been voting over the last few days to make the work of libraries more supportive for civil rights of diverse genders, disabilities, sustainability, and the social justice of fines at libraries, etc. All huge and giant issues for the library and the issues that we see in our daily lives of work.
But, by now you may have heard that there was a violation of the code of conduct at an ALA Council forum on Monday afternoon. If not– check twitter. And this morning– more than 100 people are in this room– sitting in the aftermath of failing a person… and failing ourselves. If we can’t guarantee a safe space to discuss council issues for all people– not just the majority being white persons– I wonder how are we failing in our libraries?
This is something I think about a lot in my work. I hope everyone is thinking about this at their libraries and in their committee work, too. We are a predominately white profession that I hope wants to do better— but we have all seen how hard it is to change against the institutional racism that we live and work in. Most usually because it is hard to acknowledge- it makes us uncomfortable, so we sweep it under a rug and move on— ignoring the plight of people who are not us. We spoke about that during Debbie LeeKeenan’s presentation at the ALSC Leadership Meeting on Saturday. I ask us to allow ourselves and others some uncomfortableness in an effort to actually be allies and build safe spaces where voices can be heard– even if it “hurts” you to hear it. Learning can be a hard time— remember growing pains as your body adjusted to its growth– I think we owe ourselves some emotional growing pains.
The realities are conferences and library committee work is hard for lots of people. There are cost prohibitive problems; microphone issues that impact people’s ability to hear presentations, bathroom problems for diverse genders, ramp/elevator accessibility issues, and many, many others. And even if you can survive all the physical barriers— the big organizations can feel like a cool clique that is nearly impossible to get involved with.
As we look toward the future of ALA and ALSC— I hope we are looking out to break down barriers and working to reach out and pull in new voices and viewpoints for the betterment of this organization and the work that we all do.