Dear ALSC Members and Friends,
I am writing to you today on behalf of the ALSC Board of Directors. Along with the ALA Executive Board, the ALSC Board endorses BCALA’s statement condemning increased violence and racism towards Black Americans and people of color and stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, BCALA, and those working for racial justice and dismantling racial capitalism and white supremacy in all of its forms.
The ALSC Board grieves with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor. We remember that children are among the victims of police brutality and state violence. We remember Tamir Rice, Cameron Tillman, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones. We remember the names that go unspoken.
We acknowledge the Whiteness of libraries and children’s services and of our Division. We acknowledge the violence and policing faced by children, library workers, and communities of color every day through library partnerships and programming, collections, policies, security protocols, hiring practices, and more that uphold white supremacy. Many have endured, experienced, and resisted this violence, but those impacted by oppression should not bear the responsibility of ending it.
The ALSC Board sees and values the lives and humanity of our Black ALSC leadership, members, their families, and the children we serve. At this time, we are looking to our ALSC equity, diversity, and inclusion statement and continue to mark EDI as a strategic priority of the association. We encourage members to join us as a Division in holding each other accountable to move our EDI statement into action every day as we work together to live our purpose to “create a better future for children through libraries.”
We call on members to disrupt racism, anti-Blackness, and all forms of systemic oppression in their professional and personal communities. We recognize that many of our members have been actively engaged in this work (the ALSC Serving Diverse Communities Toolkit includes example projects and resources), but there is much more work to be done.
These are some actions you can take today:
- Recognize and push against library programs, collections, policies, and services that are hostile toward Black communities and other communities of color including but not limited to partnerships with organizations that have historically inflicted trauma on communities of color.
- Educate yourself and interrogate your privileges. Take an active role in working for justice personally and professionally. We recommend the free online professional development curriculum Project READY: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth. We also recommend this padlet of Anti-Racism Resourcesfor all ages curated by Dr. Nicole Cooke.
- Evaluate your library’s policies, services, and collections for equity and work for change. This Inclusive Services Assessment and Guidefrom the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is one resource you can use. We also recommend this toolkit from the Oakland Public Library: Evaluating Children’s Books About Police: a toolkit for librarians and other evaluators of children’s literature.
We also recognize that the 2020 ALSC Institute is planned to take place in Minneapolis, MN where George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers occurred. The ALSC Board stands with local activist efforts and our members who are working in their city to elicit real change.
CHICAGO — The Executive Board of the American Library Association (ALA) stands with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) in condemning violence and racism towards Black people and all People of Color.
The ALA Executive Board endorses BCALA’s May 28 statement, in which the caucus decries the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers and cites Floyd’s death as “the latest in a long line of recent and historical violence against Black people in the United States.”
The ALA Executive Board stands in solidarity with BCALA, with library workers, with library users, and with members of the communities we serve and support who are susceptible to acts of prejudice, threats of violence, and even death based solely on their race or ethnicity. The pervasive racism present in our nation denies its residents equal rights and equal access and as such is a barrier to the goals of this association and to the wider profession.
Wherever it resides, racism leads to degradation. It weakens our institutions and destroys our communities and is one of the greatest obstacles to the American Library Association’s mission “to enhance learning and ensure access to information to all.”
Diversity is one of ALA’s key commitments and guiding principles. For this reason, the Executive Board calls on library and information services leaders, staff, and advocates of all races and backgrounds to abolish racism against Black people and against all People of Color and to see to it that it has no place in our institutions, our policies, our practices, or our behaviors.
Just as the BCALA statement urged its members to take “proactive and preventative measures in the fight against racism” such as participating in protest and other forms of activism, promoting and creating anti-racist media content, becoming actively engaged in local policy development, exercising the right to vote, or “running for office to be a voice for historically disenfranchised groups,” the ALA Executive Board similarly calls on the entire association to work against racial bias and prejudice actively and intentionally through one or more of these means.
The Executive Board therefore urges ALA members and member organizations, members of the wider LIS community, and library institutions everywhere to join it and BCALA in condemning the systemic and systematic social injustices endured by Black people and People of Color and in working not only responsively, but also preemptively, to eradicate racism anywhere and everywhere it exists.
How to Talk about Race and other recorded webinars and resources from ALA’s Office for Diversity and Literary Outreach Services
Public Library Association’s recorded webinar Understanding Power, Identity, and Oppression in the Public Library
Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation from ALA’s Public Programming Office‘s Great Stories Club
Please join me in thanking the ALSC Board of Directors for their diligence, thoughtfulness, passion and service to our members and those they serve: Vice-President Elect Kirby McCurtis, Past President Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Fiscal Officer Amber Lea Creger, Councilor Julie Dietzel-Glair, and Directors Linda L. Ernst, Elisa Gall, Africa S. Hands, Maggie Jacobs, Sujei Lugo, April Mazza, Sue McLeaf Nespeca and Amy E. Sears.