Guest Blogger

Radical Thoughts

Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, Augusta Baker Chair at the University of South Carolina, opened today’s events at #alsc22 with a powerful message, “Let this Radicalize You: Lighting up Our LIS future.” She challenged us to look inside our libraries — do our actions match our words? Does our library staff represent the community we serve?

Our house must be in order if we are seeking to change our community. By letting this radicalize you, Cooke seeks to energize us, rather than lead to despair. Being radical means taking action. She challenged us to pick one thing to work on. Just one. And if we all do one thing, it adds to the collective. Yes, it requires ongoing work and maintenance. No, the work is never completely done. She shared definitions of Radical Hospitality, Radical Honesty, Radical Love, Radical Candor, and Radical Empathy. Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides by Terri Givens delineates six stages:

  1. willingness to be vulnerable.
  2. becoming grounded in who you are.
  3. opening yourself to the experiences of others.
  4. practicing empathy.
  5. taking action.
  6. creating change and building trust.

I’m sharing these as it resonated with me: I can do this (while keeping cultural humility in mind.)

It was an inspiring, motivating, energizing way to start the day. And I have much to learn and work to do. Thanks Dr. Cooke for your inspiration and dedication to our profession.


Robin Gibson (she/her/hers) is the Youth Services Manager at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville, Ohio. She is looking forward to reconnecting and making new connections with colleagues and gathering new ideas to share with her team. She loves to travel and is excited to be able to do so again!

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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