Amplifying Voices and Nurturing Diversity

Diversity Insights from ALSC’s EDI Committee Co-Chairs Mai Takihashi and Ayn Reyes Frazee

We are Ayn Reyes Frazee and Mai Takahashi, co-chairs of the newly formed Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee for ALSC, we recently had the opportunity to record a podcast with the Oregon Library Association’s EDI & Antiracism Committee OVERDUE: Weeding Out Oppression in Libraries podcast. The conversation delved deep into the heart of our new committee’s mission, the challenges we’re facing, and the inspiring motivations that keep us moving forward. We’re excited to share more about our new committee with ALSC membership and beyond.

The EDI Committee emerged from a longstanding commitment within ALSC to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Originating from the ALSC EDI Task Force, the committee’s inception is a vital step in amplifying BIPOC voices within the library profession, particularly in the diverse communities we serve. The committee’s goal is not just training ALSC members on these topics, but creating pathways and support systems for BIPOC library staff to thrive. The committee aims to support the work of ALSC specifically as it relates to equity, diversity and inclusion. In 2018, the EDI Task Force created an opportunity for six fellowships which supported BIPOC library professionals from accross the country with ALA and ALSC memberships, mentor opportunities and conference attendance. The new ALSC committee plans to continue this work with a third cohort of Fellows. More details will be shared as our plans come together.

ALSC members Ericka Brunson-Rochette, Ariana Augustine Sani Hussain, Annisha Jeffries, Erica T. Marks, and Meredith C. Steiner make up the inaugural committee; each will serve a two year term of service. Our current committee boasts diversity, including wide geographic representation, but there’s still a focus on filling gaps, such as including Native members, rural members, and voices representing ability and disability perspectives. Collaborating with other ALSC committees and initiatives like the JCLC (Joint Conference of Librarians of Color) Conference is also part of our vision to empower and amplify marginalized voices.

The EDI Committee draws immense motivation from the impact our library work has on young readers and historically underserved communities. The joy of seeing a child’s eyes light up with a book that resonates with them is a powerful reminder of why we continue to push for inclusivity and representation in library spaces. Our passion fuels a commitment to ongoing EDI work, aspiring for a future where such efforts are seamlessly integrated into professional landscapes.

The podcast episode concludes with a call to action for listeners to reflect on what keeps their fire lit in their profession or personal life. If you would like to listen to the full episode hosted by Ericka Brunson-Rochette (also an ALSC EDI Committee member) and Constance Palaia, you can find it here.

EDI efforts in libraries are crucial. This committee is showcasing the power of diverse voices and the enduring passion that drives positive change. If you’d like to get involved, please fill out the  ALSC Committee Volunteer Form (requires member login) or reach out to Mai and Ayn!

Ayn Reyes Frazee, who serves as current president of the Oregon Association of School Libraries, is a high school librarian in Portland and was a 2019 ALSC Equity and Diversity Fellow. Mai Takahashi is a youth services librarian at the Seattle Public Library, working closely with Seattle’s Indigenous community and with local nonprofits that serve currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families. She was a 2020 ALSC Equity and Diversity Fellow. Both Frazee and Takahashi are current co-chairs of ALSC’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee.

This post relates to the following ALSC Core Competencies:

I. Commitment to Client Group

1. Demonstrates respect for diversity and inclusion of cultural values, and continually develops cultural awareness and works to address implicit bias in order to provide inclusive and equitable service to diverse populations.

2. Recognizes systems of oppression, discrimination, and exclusion in the community and its institutions, including the library, and interrupts and/or counteracts them by way of culturally aware services.

V. Outreach and Advocacy

4. Advocates for eliminating barriers to library service for children based on socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities, and for overcoming systems of oppression, discrimination, exclusion, and ethnocentrism.

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