Blogger Jamie Campbell Naidoo

All Are Welcome Here: Celebrating Global Diversity and Getting Involved with ALSC

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All are welcome here! I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before. We seem to be using it more and more in an attempt to indicate that our library spaces are inclusive. Some recent children’s books proclaim “all are welcome here,” and feature a mosaic of diverse children and families. There is a song that goes one step further stating, “all are welcome here, as we are.” Lofty goals for any children’s librarian; but do we put those words into action in our services and programs? Do we REALLY mean that everyone is welcome as they are? Do we embrace one type of diversity in the library but overtly (or covertly) shun other types of diversity by using the excuse that X type of diversity cannot be understood by children or Y type of diversity is only in the name of being politically correct?

In addition to thinking about welcoming all in our libraries, I invite you to think about how we can better welcome ALL within ALSC. I’ve mentioned in a previous post here and the last ALSC Matters, that we are working on cultural humility training for our members (via a Communities of Practice Task Force to be appointed by Vice President Cecilia McGowan) as well as an ALSC statement of equity, diversity and inclusion. These are two steps towards creating an association where all are welcome but not the only ways. We need ALSC members dedicated to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion to become involved in the association at all levels. What follows are suggestions for how your can start welcoming all in your library spaces and ways that you can get involved in ALSC and nominate diversity advocates for leadership positions within the association.

Celebrating Global Diversity with Día (Children’s Day/Book Day) and International Children’s Book Day

Perhaps you truly want to welcome all children and families but don’t know where to start. Fortunately, with events like Día and International Children’s Book Day, you can get both programming ideas and suggestions for culturally diverse national and international literature that can be added to your collection to provide the windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors for various segments of the communities you serve. Both of these events can form the initial steps of stepping outside your own personal bias and developing collections, programs, and services that convey to children and their families that all are welcome here – as you are – today and everyday.

International Children’s Book Day

Today, April 2nd, is International Children’s Book Day (ICBD)! Celebrated since 1967, ICBD is held on or around  Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday (April 2nd) to ignite reading engagement and call attention to global children’s literature in a variety of languages. Every year, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) selects a different national section to create promotional material written in English and the language of the selected country. This material contains a literacy message from a notable author and is illustrated by a prominent illustrator, both from the same country of the selected national section. For 2019, the chosen country is Lithuania. You can find promotional materials for 2019 ICBD here – written and illustrated by Kęstutis Kasparavičius and translated from Lithiuanian by Daina Valentinavičienė. Materials from previous years, featuring children’s book creators from other countries are available on the same website. Librarians interested in creating welcoming spaces for all can use these materials to introduce children to other cultures – talking about diverse art styles, introducing distinct cultural perspectives in the text and illustrations, exploring new authors and illustrators, and so on.

At the same time, library staff working with children can also use online resources to locate international children’s books to use in programming and displays. These books provide children with a global perspective on important issues in their world (and beyond) and create bridges of cross-cultural understanding. A great place to find these books include the following resources: ALSC’s Batchelder Award-winning books, the White Ravens notable list of international children’s and youth literature from the International Youth Library in Munich, or books from the IFLA’s (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) The World through Picture Books: Librarian’s Favourite Books from Their Country project, United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) Outstanding International Books List, and IBBY’s Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities.

Día: Children’s Day/Book Day

Día, or Children’s Day/Book Day is a nationally recognized literacy initiative that emphasizes the importance of children from all linguistic backgrounds having the opportunity to see their culture and language represented in children’s books and library programs. It is the perfect avenue for library staff working with children to create a place that demonstrates “all are welcome here.” This year-long celebration of connecting children and diverse books was created by award-winning poet Pat Mora and culminates every year on April 30th. Libraries, schools, museums, and community centers across the nation can register their Día events on the ALA Día website as a way to get broader publicity of their activities. The website also contains eye-catching graphics, curated booklists (including STEAM booklists), program guides, and more to help you plan and deliver an unforgettable Día event. In addition to this dynamic website, Pat Mora also has a Día page on her website to celebrate the program’s 23 years of bringing together diverse children and books. The webpage includes planning resources, information about partners, posters, and public service announcements. Librarians could use the program ideas from Día and connect with the aforementioned international children’s books to introduce children to all types of diversity via culturally-rich, authentic children’s materials and programs.

Getting Involved with ALSC

As I mentioned in my March blog post, there are many opportunities to get active in ALSC. In each of these positions you can work with your fellow ALSC members to create an association welcoming and affirming of equity, diversity, and inclusion  – or all, as they are. The most immediate way to do this is participate in committees and online community forums, and attend ALSC events (virtually or in person).

2019 Elections and 2020 Nominations for ALSC Candidates

The 2019 ALA Election Ballots have been distributed to members via email. On the ALSC ballot, you’ll find members standing for election for various positions within our association. This is your opportunity to be engaged and elect the next leaders within our association. The election is open for ONE more day (April 3rd) and results will be announced on April 10th. If you haven’t voted – please share your voice!

Our next ALSC Online Community Forum will be held in Zoom on May 14th from 12-1 pm CT., and hosted by the 2019 Nominating and Leadership Development Committee lead by Andrew Medlar. Attendees can learn about the various leadership positions within ALSC and interact with current and past ALSC leaders. And – speaking of leadership and engagement opportunities, Thom Barthelmess, Chair of the 2020 Nominating and Leadership Development Committee, is looking for ALSC members to self-nominate or recommend ALSC members to be on the 2020 Ballot. The open positions will be candidates for ALSC Vice-President/President-Elect, Division Councilor, ALSC Board Member, and for membership on multiple ALSC book award committees. Know of a great diversity advocate to serve in these positions? Nominate them now! The form is available here.

ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) Informational Sessions.

A final way to get involved and help create an associate where “all are welcome,” is by attending the ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) online informational sessions in April. This committee was asked by Past ALA  President Jim Neal to conduct “a comprehensive review and study of ALA’s governance, member participation and legal structures and systems, with the goal of proposing changes that will vitalize its success, strength and agility as a 21st century association.” Part of this vitalization process includes creating spaces in our association where everyone feels welcomed and heard.

SCOE Chair Lessa Pelayo-Lozada posted this message (note ALA membership required to view message on ALA Connect) in Mid-March outlining the review process of SCOE. Additionally, Lessa also posted the link to the post-Midwinter (Feb. 15) webinar “Designing 21st Century Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness Remodeling Input”.

Additional online sessions will be held by SCOE this month to gain specific input from various ALA stakeholders. The April 29th session will be focused on Divisions. These upcoming webinars provide another opportunity for YOU (ALSC Members) to engage and ask questions about the work of SCOE.  Additionally, SCOE is soliciting feedback through an online form or via email linked in the posts referenced above. ALSC Leadership will have a SCOE representative at our May Zoom Board Meeting to  allow us to share input and learn more about their work as it influences ALSC.

Upcoming webinars (Again – registration information not yet available):

  • April 9, 11:00 am PT/1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET: Member Engagement through Round Tables and Member Initiative Groups
  • April 15, 11:00 am PT/1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET: Prioritization and Accountability through Council and the Executive Board
  • April 22, 11:00 am PT/1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET: Prioritization and Volunteer Engagement through Committees
  • April 29, 11:00 am PT/1:00 pm CT/2:00 pm ET: Prioritization and Member Engagement through Divisions

What are You Doing?

I look forward to hearing how you might be creating a welcoming space for all via dynamic International Children’s Book Day or Día programs. I also hope to see you at the next community forum to learn about leadership development within ALSC. And, I really hope to see your nominations for diversity advocates for the 2020 ballot.


Jamie Campbell Naidoo

2018-2019 ALSC President

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