In 2020, the American Library Association (ALA) implemented a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion by opening the door to three things:
- To engage in dialogue with our members to inform our path forward,
- To continue assessing our governance structure such as through the Forward Together
- recommendations, and
- To address the disparities in access to information for BIPOC (“ALA Takes Responsibility…”)
ALA’s renewed commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) allowed me an introduction to the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, in the form of a membership scholarship for librarians who identified as BIPOC (Black, indigenous, People of Color). Embracing this opportunity as a newly certified, hired librarian opened my eyes to ALSC’s mission to be representative and supportive of the children they serve.
Affirmed, celebrated, and seen is how I began my foray into ALSC. Joining ALSC in 2021 introduced me to BIPOC virtual and in-person gatherings, affinity groups, task force committees, and BIPOC librarian discussion panels. These events equipped me with current information and opportunities to build networks and foster connections. One of my greatest accomplishments since joining has been my involvement in an EDI Task Force to address the development of common book award committee language to represent EDI. Though funding for the BIPOC Librarians Mentorship group is no longer available, current members and future BIPOC ALSC members can benefit from a host of invitations to participate through visiting the ALSC Engagement Center.
Specifically for BIPOC members seeking to be further involved in ALA’s mission, consider exploring ALA’s affiliate groups known as the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus American Library Association (BCALA ), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. Also, every 4 to 5 years, these organizations join to present the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, also called JCLC. In the future, ALSC is hoping to establish a dedicated BIPOC space for daily discussions, questions, and connections, further increasing the avenues available for BIPOC librarians to engage, access information, and build lasting relationships.
Mitzi Mack is a media specialist/teacher librarian in Tampa, Florida, and a member of the ALSC Membership Committee.
This blog post relates to ALSC Core Competencies of: VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.