ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall says dismantling racism in library and information services is overdue

For Immediate Release
Fri, 06/26/2020

Contact:

Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing Office

mmorales@ala.org

CHICAGO – During the inaugural ALA Virtual Event this week, American Library Association (ALA) Executive Director Tracie D. Hall issued a strong challenge for our nation’s librarians, library professionals and library supporters, calling for support of a workforce that reflects a diverse client base, universal digital access, and a deeper financial commitment to libraries.

Hall outlined a three-pronged platform of priorities for library advocates, including universal broadband, rapid diversification of the library and information services field, and a commitment from local and federal governments and public and private funders to broaden the philanthropic infrastructure of libraries.

Underlying these three priorities, she said, is the guiding principle of justice.

“Let our legacy be justice,” said Hall, who, in January, was named ALA’s first female African American executive director in ALA's history. “When I say let our legacy be justice, I am inviting us to explore the construct of the library as both the vehicle and driver of justice, as both a means to justice and an arbiter.” 

The need for universal broadband is borne out by 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 10 percent of U.S. adults do not use the internet. It has linked non-usage to such factors as educational attainment, household income and community type. Nearly 30% of adults with less than a high school education does not use the internet. Adults in households earning less than $30,000 per year are less likely to use the internet (18%) than affluent adults (2%).

“Free and open universal broadband must be considered a human right,” Hall said. 

Hall called for the library profession to align itself better with its widely diverse client base.

Figures from the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees shows that only about 6.8% of the 300,000 librarians in the workforce today identify as black, 8.6% as Latino, 4.6% as Asian American or Pacific Islander and less than 1% as Native American. 

 “It is clear that the work of dismantling racism is overdue in our society and in library and information services. Racism, bigotry, and bias threaten the reach and impact of our field and the full promise and potential of an equitably informed public. It cannot abide,” said Hall. 

She also stressed the need for financial support for all types of libraries – school, public, college and university libraries – to prepare the leaders and problem solvers of tomorrow.

A complete video of Hall’s remarks is currently available at https://bit.ly/HallRemarks

The American Library Association’s ALA Virtual - Community Through Connection, June 24 - 26, 2020, is a three-day, online event that will feature a portfolio of more than 50 educational sessions, including COVID-19 related information pertinent to libraries, live chat opportunities with authors and speakers, an exhibitor showcase with more than 500 participating exhibitors, and presentations in an on-demand format from book publishers on forthcoming book titles.  

A full schedule of ALA Virtual events is available at https://2020.alavirtualevent.org/. Media may follow #alavirtual20 for additional event information and updates.  

Media interested in securing interviews with ALA leadership may contact Macey Morales, deputy director of the ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at mmorales@ala.org, 312-280-4393; or Steve Zalusky, communications specialist, at (312) 280-1546 or szalusky@ala.org.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.