CHICAGO — On Saturday, Jan. 21, at the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, the Public Library Association (PLA) Board approved the creation of a PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
Co-chaired by Richard Kong, director, Skokie (Illinois) Public Library and Amita Lonial, principal librarian, San Diego (California) County Library, the task force has been charged with developing a strategic and coordinated approach for PLA related to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). The task force will explore methods and consider resources to be developed that will allow PLA to take a multifaceted approach. Task force activities include but are not limited to: making recommendations for how EDI content is integrated into PLA programs; elevating successful libraries as models to generate and share best practices; identifying ways PLA might influence equity and inclusion within public libraries; and helping libraries serve diverse communities and staff.
“The current political and social climate is shining a harsh light on just how much we fall short of a truly equitable, diverse, and inclusive profession and society,” said Kong. “It is imperative that we take an honest look at this reality and take concrete steps to bring long-lasting, meaningful changes that will advance equity, diversity and inclusion in both our profession and the communities we serve.”
Lonial added, “Public libraries have a legacy of embracing and advancing social justice. Recent events have libraries asking what that looks like in this political moment and how we can more authentically engage our core values of equity, diversity and inclusion. Our hope is that the task force can help to facilitate that dialogue and provide concrete tools and resources for public libraries of all types and sizes to participate and go deeper.”
Public libraries have a unique and unparalleled ability to bring people and knowledge together. PLA is committed to its core values of openness and inclusiveness and supports the recent statement from the American Library Association (ALA), opposing the new administration’s policies that contradict core library values. The PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will work to strengthen the organization’s commitment to its core values, while ensuring issues of EDI remain a top priority.
The task force will report to the PLA Board of Directors at least twice per year. After two years, the board will review the work of the task force and recommend continuation, sunsetting, or creation of a standing committee. The task force will meet at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago (Illinois) and work virtually beforehand. Appointments are currently being finalized.
For more information, contact the PLA office at (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA.
About the Public Library Association
PLA is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, visit www.pla.org.