What does that mean to you? I’ve heard members describe ALSC as the “heart” of their professional work, and others express hope that ALSC will actually follow through to create a different experience for people who have felt invisible and isolated. When I say, “Welcome to ALSC,” I am cognizant that as I begin my full year as ALSC President, my job is to ensure that this easy-to-say statement has genuine results for each member and prospective member.
At Annual Conference in Chicago, ALA Council approved “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” including definitions that also have been incorporated into the ALA policy manual. Even if you are familiar with these terms, I invite us to take a moment together to reflect on these definitions:
“Equity” takes difference into account to ensure a fair process and, ultimately, a fair outcome. Equity recognizes that some groups were (and are) disadvantaged in accessing educational and employment opportunities and are, therefore, underrepresented or marginalized in many organizations and institutions. Equity, therefore, means increasing diversity by ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups.“Diversity” can be defined as the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different. When we recognize, value, and embrace diversity, we are recognizing, valuing, and embracing the uniqueness of each individual.“Inclusion” means an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully; are valued for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives; have equal access to resources and opportunities; and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.
While equity, diversity, and inclusion may appear to be present in an organization to those privileged by opportunity structures, I know that even within ALSC, when we open the door and say, “welcome,” there are many who do not feel welcome to bring their whole selves; who see part of themselves rendered invisible when they enter the space. What assumptions, norms, codes of conduct, and expectations exist within ALSC that may affect a welcome? What barriers to access affect some of us more than others? What will we do to change this, within ALSC, so that we can ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion in all of our spaces?
I am in the process of forming the “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) within ALSC task force,” which will implement and further develop recommendations of the previous Diversity within ALSC task force. Vice-President/President-Elect Jamie Naidoo reported in a recent blog post on these recommendations as well as the recommendations from the ALSC Emerging Leaders project team. Both sets of recommendations will be foundational to our success in our strategic plan, and you can look forward to changes emerging from these, and our Board’s and committees' other recent work, over the coming year.--Nina Lindsay, ALSC President
My ALA Council work during the 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago can be characterized by three words: celebration, commitment, and change.
I joined the ALA Executive Board and my Council colleagues in celebrating the achievements of ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels, who retired at the end of July. I shared my commitment to ALSC members with Council as I advocated tirelessly on library issues affecting youth (which are all issues). Lastly, I welcomed the change that comes from the ALA-wide efforts we make every day to keep the work of the association moving forward. I continue to embrace the triumphs and challenges that come with my role as ALSC Division Councilor. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
While you can review the complete list of Annual 2017 Council actions and related council documents for details, here’s a brief recap of the Council work I found most significant as both a librarian and an ALSC member:
Youth Council Caucus. On Saturday, June 24, I co-convened the Youth Council Caucus (YCC) with AASL Division Councilor Diane Chen and YALSA Division Councilor Todd Krueger. This meeting was a departure from the traditional post-Council I time slot, which had become increasingly more difficult for youth champions to attend given busy conference schedules. We held the meeting in the Council hotel suite (with refreshments—yay!) and enjoyed a fabulous opportunity to discuss how we can activate the YCC to advocate more robustly for youth issues within ALA. To this end, our 13 participants suggested the following ideas for making the YCC more than a group that meets at conferences twice per year:
- Cultivate relationships with non-youth ALA divisions and interest groups beyond ALA;
- Propose an American Libraries article about our youth work as ALA Councilors;
- Develop webinars and/or online courses related to Council work and recruitment;
- Build awareness of what’s happening in other divisions, chapters, and round tables so we know them as more than just acronyms;
- Create a humorous video featuring youth Councilors to promote our work;
- Sit together during Council sessions to build support and camaraderie; and
- Commit to speak at the microphone at least once during each Council meeting in support of youth library issues.
Minutes from the YCC in Chicago will be available on the new-and-improved ALA Connect in the coming weeks, so be sure to watch the space for details and our plans for moving forward on these action items.
Member-focused Council discussions. During each of the three Council sessions in Chicago, I was especially proud of the way Councilors insisted on keeping ALA members at the focus of all our work. Nowhere was this more prominent than during discussion of “An American Library Association Statement of Global Climate Change and a Call for Support for Libraries and Librarians,” which was introduced by an ALA member at the Virtual Membership Meeting (VMM) on June 8. Despite several attempts to postpone the scheduled Council I discussion and refer the statement to a Council working group, many Councilors—myself included—spoke strongly in favor of conducting the discussion during Council session so we could demonstrate our commitment to member issues in a public way. Ultimately, the discussion did take place during Council I, and the statement was adopted with several amendments.
ALA Executive Director Search Committee Report. As Chair of the Executive Director Search committee, ALA Past President Courtney Young provided Council with an update on the process. Search firm Isaacson Miller, which has been assisting the committee, conducted scoping interviews comprised of five questions. Those responses were used to draft an advertisement, and the position was posted on both the ALA and search firm website in mid-June. The search committee plans to continue its work along the following timeline: application materials due in July; phone interviews to be conducted in August; Skype interviews to be conducted in September; and in-person interviews to be conducted in late October. The committee will continue to keep Council apprised of progress throughout the search for ALA’s new Executive Director.
ALA Diversity Caucus. Since the YCC meeting time was changed to Saturday evening in Chicago, I had the opportunity to attend the ALA Diversity Caucus, which convened immediately after Council I on Sunday, June 25. This meeting has traditionally been a way for Councilors to share the equity, diversity, and inclusion work taking place across ALA’s divisions, chapters, and round tables, so I was thrilled to speak about the new ALSC strategic plan and the prominent place diversity has in our upcoming work. I’m excited to attend the next Diversity Caucus in Denver and to promote the wonderful strides ALSC leaders and members are taking in this area.
Addition of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion definitions to the ALA Policy Manual. To build upon the addition of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as a fourth ALA strategic direction (as approved at Midwinter 2017 in Atlanta), Council voted to add the definitions of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as developed by the ALA task force to the ALA Policy Manual. As stated in the complete list of Council actions taken at Annual 2017, ALA will “audit all definitions of equity, diversity, and inclusion across the association to ensure the broadest possible understanding; and explore core values and roles and responsibilities statements to assess equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This important step will ensure our discussions and work around each topic remain clear, consistent, and cohesive.
Resolution on Libraries as Responsible Spaces (ADOPTED). After rich discussion during Council II, members adopted the Committee on Diversity’s Resolution on Libraries as Responsible Spaces. While significant discussion took place around the resolution’s whereas clauses, the resolved clauses remained unchanged and read accordingly:
That the American Library Association, on behalf of its members:1. Urges libraries to embrace the mantle of responsible spaces by adopting and enforcing user behavior policies that protect patrons and staff from harassment while maintaining our historic support for the freedom of speech;2. Encourages libraries to develop community partnership programs with and promote services to underrepresented and unacknowledged community members;3. Encourages libraries to sponsor programs fostering meaningful and respectful dialogue in community; and4. Directs the Committee on Diversity, with the support of the Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS) and its Advisory committee, to develop, provide, and disseminate materials and programming for libraries that deter hate, foster community, and oppose bigotry toward or oppression against any group.
Two Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights (ADOPTED). During Council III, members adopted “Politics in American Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” and “Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” The following explanations are taken from the Annual 2017 ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) Report to Council (19.11-19.13 on the complete list of Council documents):
The “Politics in American Libraries” interpretation touches on balanced collections, designated public spaces, and unfettered access to ideas. Drafts and revisions have been distributed to the library community and posted on the Council’s ALA Connect page for feedback. The working group has taken each comment into consideration.
The “Equity, Diversity, Inclusion” interpretation reinforces core values that are crucial to the promotion of intellectual freedom; identifies policy approaches that may exclude some community members; and encourages libraries to foster an “inclusive environment where all voices have the opportunity to be heard” by challenging censorship. The document uses the terms “origin,” “age,” “background,” and “views” as defined by the IFC, and definitions “equity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion,” authored by the Diversity task force, as its foundation. Drafts and their revisions have been posted to ALA Connect and distributed to ALA Council for comment. The working group has taken each comment into consideration.
Memorials and Tributes. Memorial resolutions were adopted in honor of Eric Moon, Marija C. Sanderling, Robert Henry ‘Bob’ Rohlf, Dorothy Evans, Joy L. Lowe, Pauline Manaka; and Amanda Rudd (oral acknowledgments). Tribute resolutions were adopted in honor of Harry Bruce, Keith Michael Fiels, and the 20th Anniversary of Victory in the Communications Decency Act (CDA)
Council Election Results. The following Council members were elected to the 2017-2018 Council Committee on Committees: lsmail Abdullahi, Roberto Carlos Delgadillo, Martin L. Garnar, and Eboni Henry. The following members were elected to the 2017-2018 Planning and Budget Assembly: Councilor-at-Large Representatives: Melissa Cardenas-Dow (for 1-year term 2017-2018 to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, who was elected to the ALA Executive Board); and Erica Findley and Tyler Dzuba for 2-year terms 2017-2019).
Council fora. I participated in two out of three Council fora sessions in Chicago, which took place from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evening. Traditionally, each forum is an opportunity to talk informally (i.e. no Robert’s Rules of Order) with other Council members, many of whom are seeking feedback on resolutions they plan to bring to an upcoming Council session.
As I’ve mentioned in previous reports, attending three Council sessions and two ALSC Board meetings is just part of my duties as ALSC’s designee to the governing body of ALA. Outside of conferences, I keep up with issues and discussions appearing on the Council electronic discussion list and collaborate with the AASL and YALSA division councilors on potential resolutions affecting youth. I’m always sure to keep the ALSC President and Board of Directors apprised of what’s coming up so we can maintain our commitment to both a knowledge-based decision making process and the core values of ALSC.
As we look ahead to the 2018 Midwinter Meeting in Denver, I’ll be sure to keep you informed about ongoing Council discussions affecting the youth and families we serve. Of course, you can always reach out to me at jnemecloise at outlook.com with your questions and feedback about Council and Council-related issues. I welcome your input at any time.—Jenna Nemec-Loise, ALSC Division Councilor
ALSC sincerely thanks our Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet sponsors. We hope everyone had a memorable evening!
Algonquin Young Readers, Workman Publishing
Bloomsbury Children’s Books & Boyds Mills Press
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Penguin Young Readers
Simon & Schuster
Children's Plus, Inc.
Disney Book Group
HarperCollins Children's Books
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Many thanks to the following generous contributors to Friends of ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website.
Dayton Metro Library