New Jersey Libraries Meet on Diversity InitiativeMore than two hundred librarians and library staff members from throughout New Jersey met on November 22 at Ocean Place Conference Center, in Long Branch, N.J., to begin a diversity initiative to transform New Jersey Libraries.
“The idea behind this conference,” noted Cheryl O’Connor, Executive Director of the INFOLINK Regional Cooperative, “was to get libraries to jump start the process. We assembled some of the best workshop leaders and speakers in this field for this training. With the changes in New Jersey’s demographics affecting every community, it is essential to move forward quickly.”
Among the speakers and workshop leaders who participated were: Mark Winston (Rutgers University/SCILS), Ingrid Bethancourt (Newark Public Library), Allan M. Kleiman (Westfield Memorial Library, N.J.), Salvatore Avila (Las Vegas Public Library, Nev.), Fred Gittner (Queens Borough Public Library, N.Y.) and Homa Naficy (Hartford Public Library, Conn.). Featured at several sessions were the Ocean County Library System staff who have been in the forefront in New Jersey in establishing diversity priorities for their library system. The keynote speaker was noted deaf author and educator, Frank G. Bowe (Hofstra University, N.Y.).
“What was different about this conference,” said Peggy Cadigan, consultant with the New Jersey State Library, “is that all those who attended left with an action plan in the areas of staffing, training, outreach and collections.” She concluded, “This conference is just the beginning here in New Jersey.”
Based on the conference evaluations, follow-up workshops and meetings will continue to give library staffs throughout New Jersey the support, instruction and direction. A web site has already been established to provide this statewide support.
The conference was sponsored by The New Jersey State Library, INFOLINK Regional Library Cooperative, HIGHLANDS Regional Library Cooperative, Rutgers University School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies (SCILS), and John Wiley and Sons.