- Letter from the Editor
- SRRT Coordinator's Column
- SRRT Councilor's Report from ALA
- Minutes from Action Council I & II
- Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force News
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force News
- Feminist Task Force News
- Book Review: Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century
- Media Review: "Cesar's Last Fast"
- Article: Pointing Fingers is Easy Unless We're Pointing at Ourselves
- Call for Reviews Editor and Editorial Board Member
- Call for Submissions
- Publication Information
by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
Greetings! I am Melissa Cardenas-Dow, the new editor and web manager for the SRRT Newsletter. I am happy to be performing in this capacity and look forward to working with the SRRT Action Council, Editorial Board, and our many members and readers.
I give thanks to my predecessor and mentor, Amy Honisett. She has been very gracious and helpful, answering a lot of my questions and addressing my concerns about the tasks involved with assuming her lead. I also give thanks for the members of the SRRT Editorial Board. They�ve also been a great resource for me, as I continue to learn about the duties and tasks that are part of the roles of newsletter editor and web manager. I also send thanks to the SRRT Action Council. I am grateful that you have elected me to the position of Newsletter Editor. I hope to perform to your expectations and honor the excellent precedent Amy has set for me.
This latest issue of the SRRT Newsletter has announcements and news of other changes and events that are happening or have occurred in various corners of SRRT and ALA.
Among the more significant occurrences in ALA involves the formation of the Special Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion that was called together last spring by then-President Barbara Stripling. I am happy to serve on the Task Force on behalf of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and with my fellow SRRT members LaJuan Pringle and Mike Marlin. The Task Force as a whole needs and wants input from as many ALA members as possible, so please be on the look out for opportunities to provide us your thoughts and concerns. LaJuan is the SRRT representative on the Task Force and will be providing us with updates and developments.
Beyond the world of libraries and library services is the recent controversy over the de-/un-hiring of Professor Steven Salaita from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Professor Salaita had been offered a tenured position at UIUC's American Indian Studies program. The offer was rescinded by UIUC's Chancellor Phyllis Wise in early August 2014. As with many social issues, sides and arguments are not as clear-cut and clean as one would like. The reason provided by the University's upper administration to rescind the offer of employment to Salaita is the alleged intemperate, impolite, and uncivil nature of tweets he wrote concerning the Israeli bombings in Gaza. As a group of information professionals concerned about censorship, the freedom of information, and the uplift of marginalized voices, as well as a significant progressive voice within the library and information profession, SRRT's awareness and thoughts concerning the Salaita affair are needed. A boycott of UIUC has been called and thousands of scholars, students, and researchers are honoring it. A number of academic organizations, including the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), have publicly expressed grave concern as the affair is largely viewed as the curtailment of academic freedom and the serious erosion of shared governance. A letter of support for Dr. Salaita, written by Dr. Sarah Roberts, Ph.D. alumn of UIUC's Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), on behalf of library and information science scholars, practitioners, students and faculty is currently open. Should you be moved to participate, the open letter is taking signatures. Current on-campus and distance-education students have also written a letter of support addressed to UIUC's American Indian Studies program. It is also open to receiving support by way of signatures. In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently a post-MLIS student at UIUC and I have helped write the open letter to the AIS program. Our student group is called "Uncivil LIS" and acts of its own accord, without direction from UIUC, the UIUC libraries, or UIUC GSLIS. We are acting as individuals and as a collective of concerned students and seek to work with others who wish to bring about a different reality of discourse and interaction between groups within a university setting. We intend to host a number of online and on-campus events highlighting the social justice issues in the UIUC-Salaita affair that are of immediate concern to the library and information professions.
The ALA Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and the Salaita affair at UIUC are just two social issues I find compelling, interesting and relevant to my work and concerns as an academic librarian and engaged citizen. Both events highlight the many different ways we simultaneously work in service of social responsibility and intellectual freedom. Of course, there are many more instances and issues of social responsibility at the forefront of SRRT's view. I am glad to be able to work alongside many distinguished information professionals to stress the relevance of many social issues and concerns to our professional lives. I am happy to move from a silent member to a more active, involved constituent of SRRT. I look forward to a long, fruitful engagement as SRRT's Newsletter Editor and a vocal member-participant.
by Nikki Winslow, SRRT Coordinator, Branch Manager - Spring Valley Library
I know there has been a lot of debate over which cities should host the Annual and Midwinter ALA Conferences, especially in light of the Stand Your Ground laws, ADA Compliancy of the venues and hotels, and union supported staffing. I am relatively new to the organization, especially compared to my many colleagues in SRRT who I know have been very active since the 1970s and some even earlier than that. So my perspective on this is definitely limited to my experience over the past five years of consistently attending conferences.
I personally am glad to see when the conference is being held in a city that isn't a "regular" spot, such as Chicago and Washington, D.C. (although I do love both of those cities as well!) because I am able to see a city that I haven't visited before and experience a new culture just by attending a conference in that city. I have been to Anaheim many times because of living so close to it in Las Vegas, but I had never been to the Conference Center and felt that I experienced the city in a different way and was grateful for that. Obviously, it was a nice change to have Annual in my hometown this year and I know my kids appreciated having me home at night (even though they were late nights!!) so I am honestly hoping that it will come back to Las Vegas again.
Although I know I'm ruffling a few feathers by saying so, I am looking forward to attending the conference in Orlando in 2016. I have some family friends who live there and will plan to take my family with me to give my kids their first visit to DisneyWorld. It works really well for us that I can accomplish so much in a work related trip, but then turn it into an amazing vacation for my family as well.
Overall, I think what I am trying to say is that I think there can be an issue with any city or venue that is chosen, if a person looks hard enough. I am proud that SRRT creates awareness about these issues so others can understand the history behind many of these controversial topics and get a discussion about them happening. I have learned so much in the years of being a member of SRRT and applaud each of you for fighting for the rights of everyone to be heard.
by Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor, African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Emeritus - University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Las Vegas was a horrible choice for the ALA Annual Conference. Not only was it extremely hot, but the emphasis on gambling was not conducive to a serious meeting. There were many complaints about the difficulty in finding rooms in the casino hotels, lack of accessible facilities, cigarette smoke, and the misogynistic culture. Luckily most of the SRRT and ALA Council meetings were in the Convention Center area, and therefore more similar to the usual ALA circumstances.
There were fewer Council actions compared to a usual annual or midwinter meeting. SRRT did not put forward any resolutions in Las Vegas, but did endorse two resolutions coming from elsewhere. The first was the successful Resolution on Granting the District of Columbia Government Budget Autonomy to Allow City Services, including Libraries, to Remain Open during a Federal Government Shutdown (2013-2014 ALA CD#45). The second in support of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) was postponed to the Midwinter meeting.
Last year, Elaine Harger and I helped Bernadine Abbott Hoduski draft a Resolution on Digitization of U.S. Government Documents. Among other provisions, the intent was to stop the wholesale destructive digitization of depository collections. That resolution finally came to the floor and was approved by the Council (2013-2014 ALA CD#20.6).
Following up on our previous failed resolution to begin divestment of fossil fuel companies from the ALA Endowment, I publicly asked the Chair of the Endowment Trustees, Rodney Hersberger, to give us a detailed list of all the ALA portfolios and to highlight the fossil fuels investments. He promised to look into the matter and get us something. Following my initiative on the Council listserv, ALA Executive Director Keith Fiels also promised to get us a more detailed report on how the ALA Washington Office is lobbying on ALA resolutions.
The Council also approved the following: Resolution in Support of Stable Funding for Air Force Libraries (2013-2014 ALA CD#43), Resolution Reaffirming Support for National Open Internet Policies and "Network Neutrality" (2013-2014 ALA CD#20.7), the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development (2013-2014 ALA CD#18.2), 14 revisions to interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights (2013-2014 ALA CD#19.4-19.17), and Copyright: An Interpretation of the Code of Ethics (2013-2014 ALA CD#32.2). The Lyon Declaration is an IFLA initiative that seeks organizational support for tying the value of libraries to development initiatives. The interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights are timely since the 9th edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual will be published in January 2015. Only one of the revisions provoked Council discussion, no. 9 on Labeling and Rating Systems (2013-2014 ALA CD#19.12). Although there are provisions for including ratings in AACRII and RDA, ALA has always been opposed to rating materials. Many councilors thought that these policies should be reconciled before approving a revised interpretation, but the publishing deadline swung the vote to a narrow approval. The Intellectual Freedom Committee promised to continue working on this policy. It is noteworthy that the interpretation on copyright was the first such interpretation of the ALA Code of Ethics.
The 2016 Annual ALA Conference is scheduled for Orlando. In response to the Black Caucus, concern over the notorious Florida "Stand Your Ground" law, ALA President Barbara Stripling has established a Special Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Part of its mandate is to address how ALA might act in preparation for that conference. A wide-ranging discussion was held at the ALA Membership Meeting. LaJuan Pringle is representing SRRT on the Task Force. Two other SRRT activists are on the Task Force: Mike Marlin representing the Accessibility Assembly and Melissa Cardenas-Dow representing APALA. Melissa is SRRT's brand new Newsletter editor.
Finally, let me make some very brief remarks on the ALA Council's Intellectual Freedom Committee's program revisiting the 1977 ALA film titled The Speaker: A Film about Freedom. The program was co-sponsored by the Black Caucus, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the Library History Round Table. In 1977, SRRT and the Black Caucus proposed separate resolutions that would have removed ALA's name from the film. It sets up a false dichotomy between intellectual freedom and opposition to racism. The original framing was again presented in Las Vegas by three supporters of the film. Most of the audience was not around during the initial controversy and was easily swayed by the misleading presentation. A long line of speakers from the audience included only a few serious critics. In my opinion, the heroic black leaders who transformed ALA during the civil rights struggle would have shaken their heads in disbelief.
submitted by Laura Koltutsky and Nikki Winslow
- Social Responsibilities Round Table
- Action Council I & II Meetings
- ALA Annual Conference 2014, Las Vegas, NV
- SRRT Action Council I
- Saturday, June 28
- 8:30-10:00 am
- Convention Center N219
- Welcome and Introductions
- 8:30 am: Sara Kelly Johns visit
- In the fall, the push is for the ALA Strategic Plan. Want to use social media.
- Conference numbers are looking really good - over 18,000 so we are approaching the numbers from Chicago. Membership numbers are down a little bit, believed to be due to the reduction of staff related to the recession.
- We are 1.9 ahead of projections, mainly due to cost cutting.
- Diversity Task Force is starting its work at this Conference, which was started due to the objections of having Annual in Orlando in 2016. Al asked about focusing on the Stand Your Ground Law and making changes to it across the country.
- 8:30 am: Sara Kelly Johns visit
- Review of Agenda
- Daniel: wondering if we could collectively endorse
- Questions/Comments for PBA (ALA Planning & Budget Assembly)
- Endorsement of Government Shutdown
- Mark Hudson moved, Charles Kratz seconded - motion carried
- b. NTIS (National Technical Information Service) - bill to abolish this group (government funded reports)
- Charles Kratz moved, Tom Twiss seconded - motion carried
- Endorsement of Government Shutdown
- Newsletter Editor: Melissa Cardenas-Dow: three-year term.
- Mark Hudson moved, Charles Kratz seconded; motion carried
- ALA Councilor - vote on it next year
- Membership Committee Chair and members
- Utilize the membership reports to increase membership, especially the organizational members. Al Kagan is willing to chair the membership committee, and Charles Kratz is willing to be on the committee as well. Maybe we could redo our membership brochure. Gary Colmenar is willing to help as well. Tom Twiss also. We could also do talks locally about SRRT. Look at organizing activities. Mark Hudson thinks we should connect with NMRT.
- Nominations Committee Chair and members
- I am going to work on this for the next year. Encourage the Task Force Chairs to put names forward to run for Action Council.
- Newsletter Editor: Melissa Cardenas-Dow: three-year term.
- Net Revenue - running a little behind due to decrease. $60K in reserve.
- Task Forces
- Feminist Task Force
- Amelia Bloomer and Rainbow Project are having a joint panel. First time they have done this together. Have some good authors and she believes it will go well. Movie is on Women's issues and Gaming, called GTFO. Looking at have a Wiki on some of the pieces of the featured women that they have done in the past.
- Rainbow Project
- MLK Jr. Holiday
- Multicultural Exchange was cancelled due to lack of participants. LaJuan Pringle will still be there with the camera if people do still want to show up to reflect on Dr. King. Going to work the Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty TF to do a book drive for YA and Children's materials at ALA 2015. Even if all participants just bring one book that would be such a huge success.
- LaJuan Pringle was approached to nominate Ginny Moore for ALA Honorary Membership. Anyone interested in writing a letter of support needs to get that to LaJuan by August 1st.
- IRTF (International Responsibilities Task Force)
- Met last night. Program was cancelled for this program. Confirmed Michael Ratner a long time ago and then when Tom Twiss reached out he had already booked another event. They were also very unhappy with the person the IFC choose as the rebuttal speaker. Want to try to redo this program to some extent for next year. Have reached out to Glen Greenwald-- Elaine Harger spoke to him and gave him some information about SRRT.
- Jane Glasby recommended a pre-conference on Surveillance and Privacy working with the EFF in San Francisco. Either a half day or one day pre-conference. Want to keep the cost down, especially for SRRT members.
- Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty
- PLG (Progressive Librarians Guild) and FTRF (Freedom to Read Foundation)
- FTRF attorney presentation talked about the bills coming forward that they either support or oppose.
- Feminist Task Force
- Open Forum / Conclusion
- Resume where we left off from AC I
- ACRL Information Literacy
- Summary of Planning and Budget Assembly Meeting
- More reports?
- Rainbow Project - books selected, program at this conference with FTF authors from both book programs; new chair Naomi Gonzalez.
- Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty - book donation program for Homeless Centers, collaborate with REFORMA, PLG; list of books, please select from the list. Bring to conference, start small and build SRRT program this year.
- Guests: 3:00 pm: Maggie McFalls - program proposal for San Francisco 2015
- Possible topics for Annual 2015?
- Jane Glasby : possible preconference on Surveillance?
- Possible topics:
- FOIA requests
- Protecting patrons from surveillance
- Encryption techniques
- EFF : participate
- Try the IRTF program again with Glenn Greenwald
- Library Services for Books in Custody : seeks the best books for youth in custody, homeless youth, possible Book Award. In the Margins
- Motion made to support the Social Justice and the new Framework for Information Literacy statement: http://infolit.org/social-justice-and-civic-engagement-in-the-new-acrl-framework-for-information-literacy-for-higher-education/
- Tom Twiss moved, Al Kagan seconded, approved by SRRT AC.
- Executive Board report on divestment from fossil fuel companies. Endowment trustees said that they couldn't make changes, trustees would quit. Eight funds, all of them contained fossil fuel companies. No micromanaging of investment.
- Audjourned at 4:23 pm
- Deidre Conkling moved, Laura Koltutsky seconded.
Announcement and Call for Participation: HHPTF is planning on a book drive for the ALA Annual Conference 2015 in San Francisco. We seek volunteers. Please contact Lisa Gieskes at lisagieskes [at] yahoo.com.
by LaJuan Pringle, Library Manager -- Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force met during the 2014 Annual Conference in Las Vegas to discuss coordinating a book drive that would benefit homeless youth. The book drive would take place during the 2015 Annual Conference in San Francisco. We're hoping to deliver books to various homelessness agencies in the Bay area. We will ask for titles that come from diverse book, print, and media awards (Africana, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpr, Rainbow Project, Schneider Family, Arab American, etc.) The task force is in the process of evaluating logistics for the book drive. We are working closely with the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) to determine if other divisions or round tables have ever coordinated a book drive as we would like to follow any best practices that were learned as a result. We will continue to update you on the progress of this initiative.
The planning has begun for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration that will take place on Monday, February 2, 6:30 am-7:30 am, during the 2015 Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. As usual, we will be coordinating our efforts with OLOS, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), and World Book to provide an inspiring event that honors the legacy of Dr. King. More information regarding the event will be published in our next newsletter.
SRRT will be represented on the Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Our charge is to develop a plan and strategic actions to build more equity, diversity, and inclusion among our members, the field of librarianship, and our communities. The most important Task Force outcome is the public and honest conversation that will be generated by its plan and recommended actions.
There are several action items that the task force will pursue in order to accomplish this. They include:
- Develop programs and other opportunities for members to learn about and engage in the issue;
- Build strong advocacy and awareness at ALA meetings and conferences;
- Work in partnership with the ALA Committee on Diversity and the Office of Diversity to centralize and coordinate activities including a permanent online repository through ALA Connect in which a diversity and inclusion "toolkit" of resources and related materials can be housed and accessed by the membership at large;
- Use the Orlando conference as a platform to provoke a national dialogue;
- Collaborate with local Black and Hispanic/Latino community members and organizations in Orlando to determine the best ways for ALA members to be supportive of them. This will include compilation of a list of African-American and Hispanic/Latino businesses in Orlando for ALA members to patronize;
- Develop communications directed toward the public;
- Support efforts by ALA to reach out to national organizations with vested interest in fighting racism and all forms of discrimination and in increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion in our society, as reflected in ALA Policy on Diversity B.3 (e.g., NAACP, La Raza, Urban League);
- Develop an assessment plan to measure the impact of Task Force efforts.
Given the stunning events that have taken place in Ferguson, Missouri and other locations throughout the country, the work of this task force will be extremely important in addressing race in a manner that provokes action among ALA members and the community at large. Our task force will also address race within the confines of ALA. It's a huge undertaking. As your representative, I will be asking for your feedback on occasion. Your help will be needed in guiding the actions of the task force as we aim to foster an environment that represents the diversity of our association. Any assistance you can provide will be most helpful in guiding the task force towards fulfilling its charge.
by Audrey Robinson-Nkongola, Assistant Professor/Campus Librarian - Western Kentucky University
Karla Strand and Audrey Robinson-Nkongola are the new co-coordinators of FTF. Diedre Conkling decided to step down as a co-coordinator of FTF. Diedre has done a great job as a co-coordinator. Therefore, Karla and Audrey ask for your patience as they make the transition.
As a reminder, the FTF has a Facebook page under the same name. If you haven't joined the page, please take a minute to do so.
The FTF webpage will soon be updated. One of the items that will be changed is the listserv address. The correct address is feminist [at] mit.edu.
- SRRT Action Council II
- Sunday. June 29
- 3:00-4:00 pm
- Convention Center N21
Amelia Bloomer Project Committee
The Amelia Bloomer Project Committee deliberations at Midwinter are open to the public.
Bly, Lyz, and Kelly Wooten. Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century. Los Angeles, CA: Litwin Books, 2012. http://litwinbooks.com/feminist-activism.php
Reviewed by Ismoon Maria Hunter-Morton and Lindsay Crates
In Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century, editors Lyz Bly and Kelly Wooten gather an eclectic selection of voices covering four broad categories around radical, feminist, and/or do-it-yourself (DIY) archiving: "Zines and Riot Grrrl," "LGBT Archives," "Electronic Records," and "Second Wave Feminism." The central thesis tying these categories together is that archiving is activism: when we elevate, preserve and provide access to the materials produced by marginalized populations, we subvert dominant narratives of what is traditionally deemed valuable and historically relevant. All people have stories, and all stories have value.
In "Zines and Riot Grrrl," the intersections of DIY culture and the emergence of riot grrrl are explored in conjunction with archival concerns. In recent years, riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna donated her personal papers to the Riot Grrrl Collection at Fales Library & Special Collections. The donation brought an important discussion on accessibility versus preservation to light: for a movement that centers on marginalized voices, does it make sense to house anti-establishment narratives and histories in an academic institution with limited hours and geographic inaccessibility? And if academic institutions are not the proper home for these materials, how can we ensure the best combination of document accessibility and long-term conservation?
In "LGBT Archives," the authors present a powerful critique of how and where queer/feminist archives go wrong. There is a passionate call for DIY institutional diversity, collaboration with local activist organizations, and a push to move intersectional marginalized voices to the center of the historical record. For instance, the project "Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind" cultivates sustainable and accountable archives that grow ecologically within and for the queer Black community. Letters to June Jordan and Audre Lorde, Black queer feminist ancestors, detail the community project, which continues today. Community archives and their allied institutions must earn trust and respect from queer/feminist and radical donors. These donors find institutions too limiting, intimidating, or even silencing. Because queer/feminist donors are often anti-authoritarian, traditional archival collection development will miss important outreach opportunities. Finally, when a researcher finds no representation of their own experience in the archives, like the protagonist in Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman (1996), inventing that history is a creative protest and a way to show that gaps in the record for marginalized groups of people are unacceptable. People working in archives and libraries need to be aware of their own privilege and internalized bias in their collection development and cataloging activities.
In "Electronic Records," the often-overlooked area of digital archives is brought to the forefront. When examining blogs, social media events, and video channels, what exactly does preservation look like? How do we preserve artifacts that only exist digitally, ensuring they will continue to be accessible even as technology continues to rapidly progress?
In "Second Wave Feminism," collaboration between circles of friends and the institutions they are connected with prove essential to collecting and preserving queer/feminist activist history. Second wave archives have the added generational block of revisionist history, as we pass from an analog 20th to digital 21st century information society. The real labor involved in operating a feminist press in the 1960s and 70s is a history lesson and a cautionary tale in forgetting "herstory." The emotional labor of forming a collective, running a women-owned business, and physically preparing and operating the actual machines that printed out women's liberation texts when no other press would is essential to understanding working-class women's perspectives.
The greatest strength of the overall collection is the diversity of voices: whether you enjoy colloquial essays enthusiastically recounting one's personal affair with zines (found in Sarah Dyer's "My Life in Zines") or meticulously researched academic diatribes (found in Kate Eichhorn's "Archiving the Movement: The Riot Grrrl Collection at Fales Library and Special Collections"), there is at least one essay in this collection that will speak your language. We would love to see an expanded version someday featuring even more diversity of thought and experience such as non-binary trans people, zinesters who fall outside riot grrrl culture, and a broader range of queer & trans people of color (QTPOC) voices.
Highly recommended for larger urban public libraries; academic libraries that feature the study of women, gender, queer theory, politics, or popular culture; and community libraries/archives that specifically serve feminist/queer activist populations.
Perez, Richard R. Cesar's Last Fast. Good Docs, 2014. http://www.gooddocs.net/#!cesars-last-fast/c1qdz
Reviewed by Cassandra Mackie, Public Services Librarian
At the beginning of the documentary film "Cesar's Last Fast," we are presented with Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, not at the height of the agriculture boycotts but in 1988 when he had taken a water-only fast at the age of 60. Chavez was protesting the use of pesticides on grapes which he blamed for the serious birth defects that were occurring in the children of farm workers. Chavez's Catholic faith was a running theme in his outlook and approach to fighting for the civil rights of migrant grape farmers, thus the water-only fast that was done as penance. Through personal family footage we are able to feel the full emotional weight of what the civil rights icon is trying to do. In one particularly touching early scene, his family comes to visit him one by one, each embracing him and giving him a kiss. Though the filmmakers follow the linear story pattern in the middle of the film, one major theme shines through: What do you do after you have "succeeded?" What do you do after the civil rights movement has reached major milestones?
This documentary gives us a complex look at Chavez and the migrant workers' rights movement that he helped create. This documentary is highly recommended for academic, large public library collections or public libraries with Chicano or Mexican-American collections.
by Betcinda Kettells, MLIS -- Palm Harbor Library, Palm Harbor, Florida
In the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri it is impossible to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that racism does not exist. Many commentators have said that we should use this situation as an opportunity to move forward in a way that shows understanding and compassion and reduces the chance that a similar situation might be repeated in other cities. As librarians, I'm sure we all agree. After all, we are in the business of welcoming all people through our doorways. So the problem can't lie with us. Right?
Not necessarily. One of the ways forward toward a more inclusive society is to ensure that the community demographics align with the educational, professional, and social opportunities within each community. We can point fingers at the politicians and police and wonder if they are meeting the challenge of inclusion. But we must also point the finger at our public libraries and question, really question, if we are doing all we can to be inclusive.
Are we hiring according to our community demographic? Are we planning programs for our demographic? Are we serving the demographic in a parallel ratio? If not, why not? Why are some people coming and some people staying away? Have we self-censored our collection to the point that some users will not find anything of value? Or do we have outdated materials that indicate, either overtly or unintentionally, that we do not prioritize the needs of some people? Are there unstated assumptions amongst our circulation staff toward a certain demographic that encourages us to stereotype people? Have we addressed those issues as customer service agents? Have we physically gone out into our communities and invited non-users in? Have we "met them where they are" to ask about their needs?
These questions begin with possible racial conflicts, but do not end there. Are we hiring enough men in our typically female dominated profession? Do we offer materials that indicate to the LGBT community that they are valued and included? Have we put our political views aside and offered additional services for immigrants and refugees? We have all had to make tough staffing, programming, and purchasing decisions during the recession. Did we make those decisions in a way that left one or more groups disadvantaged?
It is our responsibility to reexamine our priorities from the inside out. The public library often is the impetus for good things happening in and to a community. We can set a precedent of inclusion that flows outward. Good deeds have an infectious quality. But we have to ask those tough questions, answer honestly, and make the necessary changes in response to our findings.
One of the best methods of inclusion is to create partnership opportunities with other community groups. Opportunities abound for the sharing of physical spaces, resources, experts in the field, and of course, patrons/clientele. To paraphrase a famous movie line, "If we include them, they will come." If we examine our collections, programming, policies, hiring, and customer service, then we invite non-users in, we have set an example of inclusion that may set a precedent in the community.
Pointing fingers outward does little to improve our neighborhoods. Pointing (and looking) inward will accomplish far more.
Are you looking for a way to be more involved in the Social Responsibilities Round Table? Are you passionate about books, media and their role in social responsibility? Do you have excellent writing and editing skills? Are you good at meeting deadlines and encouraging others to meet them as well? If so, the SRRT Newsletter Reviews Editor might be just the volunteer position you're looking for!
Our current Reviews Editor, Candise Branum, will be stepping down effective after the October 2014 issue. SRRT Newsletter is in need of a replacement reviews editor who will be willing to serve as soon as possible.
The SRRT Reviews Editor must be a member of SRRT and will serve as a member of the SRRT Editorial Board. The duties of the SRRT reviews editor are to solicit, receive and edit reviews of materials, which will be submitted for publication on the SRRT Newsletter.
We are also looking for a current SRRT member who is interested in serving on the Editorial Board.
If you are interested in becoming the next SRRT Reviews Editor or the next SRRT Editorial Board member, please send a copy of your resume/CV, a brief letter of inquiry outlining your qualifications and interest in the position, and a writing sample and/or examples of previous work to Melissa Cardenas-Dow, SRRT editorial board member, at micd.srrt.newsletter[at]gmail.com.
The SRRT Newsletter is always looking for good articles, essays, and letters to the editor. The next submission deadline is November 21, 2014.
Submissions to the SRRT Newsletter may be made by any current SRRT Member or SRRT affiliate. Please send your submissions electronically in one of the following formats: MS Word, RTF, PDF, or plain text pasted into the body of an e-mail. We ask that submissions be kept to a length of 500 to 1,000 words. Graphics are encouraged. Please submit images as separate files along with a list of file names with corresponding captions. If using images that are already on the Internet, the URL of the image and a caption or description may be added to the text of the submission.
Please send submissions and inquiries to SRRT Newsletter Editor-elect Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow, indicating "SRRT Newsletter" within the subject line of your e-mail. A confirmation of receipt will be sent in a timely manner.
Submissions for book or media reviews should be sent to the Reviews Editor at micd.srrt.newsletter [at] gmail.com, indicating "Reviews" in the subject line of your e-mail. Submissions should be sent electronically in MS-Word format or a Word compatible format. Reviewers should keep their reviews to 300-500 words; any length much shorter or longer should be discussed with the reviews editor prior to submission. Reviewers should avoid conflicts of interest. Full disclosure should be made to the reviews editor when appropriate.
SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright : 2014 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission.
Editor: Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow, micd.srrt.newsletter [at] gmail.com.
Reviews Editor: Candise Branum
Editorial Board Members: Gerardo Colmenar, Heather Edmonds, Erik Sean Estep, Rebecca Martin, Julie Winkelstein, and Sara Zettervall.
Views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of ALA/SRRT. The editors reserve the right to edit submitted material as necessary or as the whimsy strikes.