ALSC is on the move! Committees, task forces, and working groups are hard at work. Some committees and task forces finished their charges at Midwinter and others are gearing up to continue with projects and activities that inch the needle forward in our strategic areas of advocacy, diversity & inclusion, and learning & development. You can read about some of the work of the ALSC Board as well as other Midwinter matters in my February 5th blog post.
One particular project that I’m excited about is our cultural humility training. The ALSC Board approved the formation of a Communities of Practice task force to further explore the recommendations of our Education committee to create cultural humility training for our members. ALSC leadership is committed to creating an environment that embraces equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and we see this training as a step in that direction. We do not support and vociferously stand against any type of discrimination within the profession at large and amid our professional associations and meetings. As such, the ALSC Board is also in the process of creating an ALSC Statement of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which will affirm and convey the association’s commitment to EDI work within our profession. But, we want to do more than just issue a statement; we want to show how ALSC is walking the walk by sharing our current work that is supportive of EDI efforts and also highlighting where we need to listen and grow as an association in order to be inclusive.
The topic of how ALSC members can put action behind their words will be further explored during ALA Annual (June 24) in my Charlemae Rollins President's Program, “Subversive Activism: Creating Social Change through Libraries, Children’s Literature, and Art.” This high energy presentation examines activism and social change through multiple lenses: first from two scholarly leaders, Dr. Nicole Cooke from Library & Information Science, and Dr. Janina Fariñas from Pediatric Neuropsychology, then from acclaimed children’s book author/illustrator Yuyi Morales, and finally, from Dr. Karin Perry’s sketchnoting that will document this dynamic event. If you are at ALA Annual, I hope to see you there!
Speaking of opportunities to engage with librarians, there are several upcoming conferences and events where ALSC staff, leadership, and members will be sharing actionable strategies for informing practice.
On March 8, ALSC Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and I will be speaking on a panel at the symposium “Defeating the Bullies and Trolls in the Library: Developing Strategies to Protect our Rights and Personhood.” This free event is organized by Dr. Nicole Cooke and librarian Amy Koester, and is being graciously sponsored by the Skokie Public Library, The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services, and In The Library With The Lead Pipe, an open access, open peer-reviewed journal.
Later in March (28–29), several active ALSC members will be attending and presenting at “Power Up: A Leadership Conference for Youth Services Managers and Staff,” which is hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Information School. On Thursday, March 28, Friends of ALSC will sponsor a meet-up and networking opportunity at a local restaurant. Additional details will be made available soon!
In January, ALSC staff and I participated in a leadership forum with the Erikson Institute and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) that worked to create an actionable definition of media literacy in early childhood. A practitioner forum will take place in mid-April and we’ll be reaching out to ALSC members to join educators from across the nation to examine the necessary practices that librarians and teachers need to facilitate media literacy engagements in early childhood. The end result for our members will be media literacy models that guide us in our roles as media mentors. The January and April forums are part of a collaborative partnership that ALSC committed to with the Erikson Institute on the Building an Alliance for Media Literacy in Early Childhood Informal Learning IMLS project. ALSC is proud to be a partner, stakeholder, and supporter of this project.
Finally, on April 13, ALSC staff and I will be attending the 2019 Arbuthnot Lecture hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Blogger and educator Dr. Debbie Reese, founder of American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) blog, will deliver her talk, "An Indigenous Critique of Whiteness in Children's Literature." Tickets are free and will be available later this spring on our website.
As you can see, there are numerous opportunities for our members to engage outside of ALSC and have critical, timely conversations about key issues influencing our profession. But, there are even more avenues within our ALSC committees to network and become involved in activities that help library staff engage communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. If you haven’t completed a volunteer form, I strongly encourage you to do so. We love our volunteers! And, Vice President Cecilia McGowan will begin making her first committee appointments very soon. Visit our volunteer webpage for information on the appointment process and timeline, as well as a link to the volunteer form. Looking forward to engaging with you all!—Warmly, Jamie Campbell Naidoo, 2018-2019 ALSC President
Hi Everyone! This was my first conference as the ALSC Division Councilor. What does that mean you ask? That means I serve on the ALSC Board of Directors as a member of the Executive Committee and as the ALSC representative on ALA Council. It also means that I attend A LOT of meetings (guess it’s a good thing I like policy work) with a fantastic group of smart, devoted, and inspiring librarians.
ALA Council held three meetings with packed agendas at the Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. We heard reports from the ALA Treasurer, the Committee on Diversity, and the Intellectual Freedom Committee, just to name a few.
Fun fact from the midwinter meeting – of the 9,040 attendees and exhibitors, 162 were international, representing 24 diverse countries.
Here are some of the actions taken by Council that may be especially interesting to members of ALSC and anyone working with youth in libraries:
“Resolved, that the American Library Association, on behalf of its members:
1. Directs the ALA President to appoint a task force that includes, among others, the ALA Parliamentarian in an advisory capacity, with the following charge:
a. Explore options and develop a procedure to facilitate online deliberation and voting for Council outside of the ALA Annual Conferences or Midwinter Meetings; and
b. Review the ALA Constitution and Bylaws to determine if the current guidelines meet the complexities of online deliberation and voting; and
c. Report findings and recommendations to Council at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.”
Why does this matter? Currently, the vast majority of Council deliberation and voting occurs at the Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. The recommendations of this task force may open up the opportunity for more work to be done in between conferences so that resolutions can be handled without having to wait for January or June/July.
Resolution for the Adoption of Sustainability as a Core Value of Librarianship, which read:
“Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members:
1. Shall define sustainability using the “triple bottom line” conceptual framework: “To be truly sustainable, an organization or community must embody practices that are environmentally sound AND economically feasible AND socially equitable.”
2. Adopt “Sustainability,” as defined above, as a core value of librarianship.
3. Evolve accreditation standards to ensure the topic of sustainability is an inherent element in library school curriculum.
4. Provide ALA members with the necessary knowledge and resources to inspire, cultivate, and encourage active leadership in the application of the triple bottom line framework to guide decisions for the future of our society.”
Why does this matter? This will be the first of 52 recommendations from the Special Task Force on Sustainability’s Implementation Team. This also means that Sustainability joins the following as core values of librarianship: Access, Confidentiality/Privacy, Democracy, Diversity, Education and Lifelong Learning, Intellectual Freedom, Preservation, Professionalism, The Public Good, Service, and Social Responsibility.
“Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members
1. adds a statement to the Policy Manual that establishes that “The American Library Association asserts that imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services.”;
2. urges libraries to scrutinize their practices of imposing fines on library patrons and actively move towards eliminating them; and
3. urges governing bodies of libraries to strengthen funding support for libraries so they are not dependent on monetary fines as a necessary source of revenue.”
Why does this matter? This resolution received a lot of discussion. Some people think fines and fees are a local issue that should not be addressed by ALA. Some libraries need fines and fees in order to support their operating budget. Some people believe that any fines or fees are a barrier to service. Ultimately, the resolution passed with the understanding this is an aspirational resolution and not a demand on libraries.
“Therefore be it resolved that the American Library Association affirms support of civil rights protections for people of diverse gender identities, and
1. Encourages libraries to defend those civil rights protections, in their policies, procedures, and their actions, in accordance with the first principle of the ALA Code of Ethics: “We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.”
2. Encourages libraries to create welcoming and inclusive spaces to meet the information needs of people of diverse gender identities, as well as create inclusive programs, projects, and events to support and demonstrate equality, inclusion, and respect.
3. Reviews ALA policy documents and internal procedures to ensure Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) principles are reflected throughout and broadly communicated to the membership broadly; and be it further resolved that this resolution be printed in full in American Libraries and publicize widely via all media channels.
4. Creates avenues within existing ALA structures to highlight model policies as well as identify model training and educational opportunities for library staff and administrations that encourage the creation of all-inclusive spaces and provide an understanding of bias.”
Why does this matter? In the world of youth librarianship, this resolution serves as a resource supporting those hosting Drag Queen Storytimes with language of welcoming and inclusive spaces.
As the ALSC Division Councilor, I also attended:
• The ALA Conference Committee Meeting as an observer and recommend that everyone review the proposed changes to the ALA Midwinter Meeting.
• The Youth Council Caucus is co-convened by the Division Councilors from ALSC, YALSA, and AASL. Our group of 13 youth focused librarians had some lively discussions. Everyone (you don’t need to be a member of Council) is encouraged and invited to attend this informal meeting. Minutes are available online (login to ALA Connect required).
• The Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness has been hard at work considering Remodeling Options for ALA. They presented to ALA Council and I was especially impressed by this statement: “[We] don’t want to forsake inclusivity for expediency.” Watch for opportunities to participate in virtual conversations regarding remodel options in February.
• One of the three Council Forum sessions scheduled for Sunday morning, Monday morning, and Monday afternoon. These optional meetings offer Councilors an opportunity to talk informally about resolutions that are being brought before the group during Council meetings. I am pleased to note that the Forum scheduled for Monday morning was canceled out of respect for those wishing to attend the MLK Sunrise Celebration and the Youth Media Awards. I was unable to attend the Monday afternoon session as it conflicted with an ALSC Board meeting.
A complete list of Council documents for the 2019 Midwinter Meeting are online. Please feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions. Hope to see you all at ALA Annual in Washington, D.C.—Julie Dietzel-Glair, ALSC Division Councilor
Many thanks to the following generous contributors to Friends of ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website.
Miriam Lang Budin