For immediate release | October 2, 2012

Library community works to address the demographic shift

More than 800 attend the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC), Sept. 19 -23, came to a close with a powerful message from author and activist Jamal Joseph – “libraries empower the communities that they serve.” Joseph’s closing note summed up the conference, themed “Gathering at the Waters: Embracing our Spirits, Telling our Stories,” which provided more than 800 attendees with strategies on how to prepare for the demographic shift.

The conference offered more than 70 programs; access to more than 65 exhibitors; 13 professional tracks; and poster sessions that focused on such issues as minority recruitment, collection development, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, promoting library service to diverse communities and much more.

“The JCLC has been an amazing conference,” said Haipeng Li, co-chair, JCLC, “We are very pleased that attendees greatly enjoyed the many opportunities the conference provided - exploring issues of diversity in all aspects, networking with colleagues, hearing the outstanding speakers and authors, participating in the rich diversity of programs and poster sessions. Everyone felt as if they were part of the big family. JCLC truly demonstrated that it was a conference for all.”

The conference began with a series of pre-conferences including Developing and Implementing Diversity Action Plans: Ten Simple Approaches for Facilitating Change, which provided tips on methods of engagement, problem-analysis, action planning and execution of action plans that support diversity. It was followed by a festive reception at the beautiful Kansas City Public Library filled with culturally relevant collections, music and entertainment.

Sonia Manzano was the keynote speaker for the JCLC Opening General Session. Manzano was named one of the most influential Hispanics by People en Español for her work playing Maria on Sesame Street, a role she's held since the early 1970's. She has earned 15 Emmys as a writer for that show and reached generations of children. An enthusiastic audience listened as Manzano shared stories from her childhood and discussed the important role libraries play in the lives of children. After Manzano’s remarks, audience members had the opportunity to talk with Manzano. Audience members from Cuba and China thanked her for her contributions to Sesame Street and shared stories on how the show helped their families learn English. Shortly after the session Manzano signed copies of her new novel, “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano.” Manzano’s appearance was made possible by Scholastic.

“JCLC 2012 was an uplifting conference filled with opportunities to celebrate diversity,” said Janice Rice, co-chair, JCLC. “Attendees were impressed by the quality and power of keynote speakers and panelists. Remarks were made about the importance of educating leaders about the emerging population and preparing them for the demographic shift, sharing ideas for retooling and rethinking libraries and services, making the library a resource center for empowering people, mentoring new leaders and strengthening our bonds through coalition building and working together. Attendees emerged from the conference feeling embraced and inspired.”

The National Library of Medicine hosted an all-conference session entitled We Need a Revolution: Combating Stress and Depression in the Workplace. Gayle K. Porter, Psych.D. from Gaston and Porter Health Improvement Center, discussed the signs, symptoms, causes and effects of depression, as well as achieving and maintaining good mental and physical health. The Institute of Museum and Library Services sponsored another all-conference dialogue which provided attendees an opportunity to explore the future of library services with experts leading some of the profession’s most innovative and ambitious projects, including the Digital Public Library of America, “Building Digital Communities: A Framework for Action,” “Edge Initiative & Benchmarks” and “Connect to Compete.”

Diversity, leadership, and community engagement were the three main themes at the Caucus Presidents’ Plenary Session. Caucus leaders, including Janice Kowemy (AILA), Jade Alburo (APALA), Jerome Offord, Jr. (BCALA), Esther Lee (CALA) and Denice Adkins (REFORMA), discussed how three topics – branding, membership and advocacy - play a role within their associations. The session was moderated by American Library Association (ALA) President Maureen Sullivan.

The JCLC Youth Author Luncheon with Sharon Flake and Lauren Myracle was well attended. Myracle’s “ttyl” series is currently ranked at No.1 on the ALA’s Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011. Myracle discussed the dangers of censorship and read letters to the audience from parents that attempted to ban her books. Flake, a multiple Coretta Scott King Book Award winner, joined in the conversation and discussed her latest book “Takedown,” a powerful novel about two teens, each one struggling with their disabilities. Scholastic sponsored the event.

Down the hall attendees could find yet another fantastic luncheon. The JCLC Adult Author Luncheon, sponsored by Random House and Ho-Chunk Nation, brought together award-winning and best-selling authors Da Chen (Brothers) and David Treuer (Rez Life”). Audience members were treated to an emotionally charged presentation on current works, as well as a live flute performance from Da Chen.

The JCLC was sponsored by the five ethnic caucus associations affiliated with the ALA: American Indian Library Association (AILA); the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA); the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA); the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA); and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.

To learn more about the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC), please visit


Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

American Library Association


1-800-545-2433 ext.5024 4393