- Letter from the Editor
- SRRT Programs at ALA
- Coordinator's Column
- Feminist Task Force News
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force News
- Government Document Round Table News
- The Role of the Editor
- Revisiting The Speaker
- The Speaker: a Response
- Creating Opportunities for Empathy and Cultural Competence in the LIS Curriculum
- Call for Submissions
- Publication Information
by Amy Honisett
After three years, this is the final SRRT Newsletter for which I will act as editor and web manager. Working with the newsletter has been a truly wonderful experience. Through this work, I have had the opportunity to meet a number of amazing people. Every three months, as I am gathering together material for the next issue, I am again struck by the amount of great work members of SRRT do as library professionals. Thank you all for your involvement in the newsletter during the past three years: contributions, comments and advice and, of course, making this work worthwhile by reading the newsletter itself!
I’d also like to thank the SRRT Newsletter editorial board. This group of people works very hard to make every issue of this newsletter great. Not only do they help copyedit the content of the newsletter, each member of the editorial board liaises with a SRRT Task Force, helping to ensure that all news is represented in each issue. Candise Branum, the Reviews Editor, also plays a giant role in making this newsletter great by finding reviewers and material to review. Please help this group, and the new editor, by submitting your relevant thoughts and news.
In this issue, you will see SRRT events happening at ALA Annual. SRRT is sponsoring a number of programs that look exciting and important. You can also read about the programs our friends in other Round Tables are sponsoring. One program that has already caused a lot of debate is sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, reexamining the controversy around an ALA-commissioned film, The Speaker. Read on to learn about the program and to read Betty Turock's view on the film. I have not seen the film, and the inclusion of program information in this newsletter should in no way indicate SRRT endorsement, but regardless of the value of this film (or lack thereof), debate among intelligent, passionate adults can lead to greater understanding of perspectives other than one’s own. See the SRRT Newsletter’s 1977 coverage of the film here: http://www.ala.org/rt/sites/ala.org.rt/files/content/SRRT/Newsletters/srrt046.pdf. The ALA has also put together a resource about this issue.
Fred Stoss has been a regular contributor to the SRRT Newsletter for a long time, and I’d like to also say congratulations to him, as he has recently won an education award from the National Library of Aruba.
Finally, I would like to welcome the new editor. While he or she has not yet been elected, I am confident that the person filling this role beginning with the September issue will be dedicated to SRRT and to producing a quality newsletter.
For the most current schedule of ALA programs, visit http://ala14.ala.org/scheduler.
Friday, June 27
All Task Force Meeting (SRRT)
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Caesars Palace - Pisa
Feminist Task Force Meeting
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Caesars Palace - Pisa
Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty Task Force Meeting
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Caesars Palace - Pisa
International Responsibilities Task Force Meeting
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Caesars Palace - Pisa
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force Meeting
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Caesars Palace - Pisa
Saturday, June 28
Accessible eBooks: Ensuring that Your Library's eContent is Universally Accessible to All
8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Las Vegas Convention Center - N237
Action Council Meeting I
8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Las Vegas Convention Center - N219
Amelia Bloomer Project Author Panel (SRRT-FTF)
8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Caesars Palace - Neopolitan IV
Librarians and Archivists to Palestine
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Las Vegas Convention Center - N116
CANCELLED Intellectual Freedom in the Surveillance State
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Las Vegas Convention Center - N240
SRRT Membership Meeting/Dinner
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Offsite - Bahama Breeze Island Grill
Sunday, June 29
Action Council Meeting II
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Las Vegas Convention Center - N211
Progressive Librarians Guild
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Las Vegas Convention Center - N211
FTF Feminist Night at the Movies
8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Caesars Palace - Trevi
by Nikki Winslow, SRRT Coordinator, Branch Manager - Spring Valley Library
Las Vegas can boast about amazing libraries throughout its valley. As a staff member of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, I know I feel fortunate to work in such large, architecturally stunning spaces and I know from patron feedback that they are grateful as well. Unfortunately, many of our 13 urban branches are getting to be 20-30 years old and their designs reflect the time period and technology of their time of construction. Now that the economy is rebounding in our area, we have started District-wide planning for changes to our buildings to reflect the changes we need to make in order to keep our libraries relevant and usable well into the future.
I was appointed to a committee called the Public Innovation Team. One of our recent assignments was to attend the Library Journal Design Institute in Salt Lake City from May 15-16, 2014. We were asked to gather ideas on trends and best practices to include in our planning process here in Las Vegas. It was an incredible experience for the group of us in all that we were able to see and learn about.
The first day was an afternoon of touring buildings with either the Salt Lake City public system or with the Salt Lake County system, both tours led by their respective executive directors, John Spears and Jim Cooper. I was on the City tour and was able to walk through the J.W. Marriott Library at the University of Utah, the Church History Library of the Mormon Church, the Glendale branch that is currently being constructed and then the main library of their district. It was so interesting to see how others have chosen to design their spaces, especially in regards to their flexibility for layout and services of the future.
The second day was workshops with architects and vendors to demonstrate trends of the future for library design and construction. I was especially interested in the lecture on sustainability, discussing how to make regenerative and restorative designs that reflect social equity, respect for the Earth and minimizing our carbon footprint in these spaces. They talked about the importance of transparency in the planning process and how this is key to keeping the staff and community involved in these efforts, so their buildings will have the necessary elements to keep the floor plan adaptable and energy smart for many years in to the future.
Overall, I was very impressed with the amount of time and discussion throughout the day spent on responsible building practices and trying to eliminate clutter and waste in libraries throughout the country. I’m really excited about what we are embarking on in my District and know that it will be a socially responsible process for the patrons of Clark County.
The Feminist Task Force has several exciting programs for the 2014 Conference.
Amelia Bloomer Project/Rainbow Project
Saturday morning, June 28, from 8:30 - 10:00 a.m. is the joint Amelia Bloomer and Rainbow Project Panel at Caesars Palace, Neapolitan IV.
The Amelia Bloomer Project (FTF/SRRT) and the Rainbow Project (SRRT/GLBTRT) are collaborating for the first on an exciting author panel.
Two authors with works on the Amelia Bloomer Project list will speak: William Klaber, author of The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, and Rita Williams-Garcia, author of P.S. Be Eleven and One Crazy Summer, from the 2014 and 2011 lists. The powerful way these authors treat social injustices stemming from racial and gender discrimination and gender non-conformity in their writing suggest they will be compelling speakers. The Amelia Bloomer Project list may be found at http://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/.
Two authors whose books are on the Rainbow Project list will also be on the panel: Tim Federle, Better Nate than Ever, and Sara Farizan, If You Could be Mine. The 2014 Rainbow Project list may be found at http://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/.
Introduction to Women’s Issues in ALA: The Staff Potluck
Every year, the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), Association of College & Research Libraries’ Women & Gender Studies Section (WGSS) and FTF hold a discussion on issues of interest to women working in libraries and provide information about each group and how to get involved.
The program is being held on Saturday, June 28 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. at the Las Vegas Hotel in Ballroom E.
The topic for this year’s discussion is women’s role in the workplace: The Staff Potluck – building social capital in the workplace through culinary skills! (or perpetuating stereotypes of women’s roles in the workplace?) The work of providing potluck provisions most often falls upon the women staff members who must invest their personal time and money in this endeavor. Some argue that the potluck serves as a way for women to develop social capital (i.e. as though we use these events to show off our culinary skills); maybe that is true for some. Too often, we see our lowest paid female employees making the most effort to provide the meals.
Information about the following groups will also be presented: Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), Feminist Task Force (SRRT/FTF) and the Women & Gender Studies Section of ACRL (ACRL/WGSS).
Feminists’ Night at the Movies
Shannon Sun-Higginson, the producer and director, will be speaking about her soon to be out movie, GTFO, showing select scenes and answering questions. The documentary is about the experiences of women in the world of video games.
Shannon Sun-Higginson is a documentary filmmaker from New York City. In 2009, her first doc short, Hapa Perspectives, aired on Current TV. She attended Wesleyan University, where she graduated in 2010 with a degree in Film Studies and English.
She has worked as a production coordinator at Zero Point Zero Production, on the documentary television programs No Reservations on The Travel Channel and Parts Unknown on CNN. She currently works as an Associate Producer on such programs as City.Ballet on AOL On and The Getaway on Esquire Network. GTFO is her first feature film.
FTF Business Meeting
The FTF business meeting will be a part of the SRRT All-Task Force meeting on Friday, June 27 from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. at Caesars Palace - Pisa. This will be our only business meeting at the conference, so we hope many FTF members and those interested in being a part of FTF will be able to attend the meeting.
As usual, we have put together a guide to programs, meetings and events that may be of interest to feminists and their friends. The guide may be found at http://ftfinfo.wikispaces.com/Conference+Schedules.
There is always good information to be found in our newsletter, Women in Libraries, http://ftfinfo.wikispaces.com/Women+in+Libraries.
by LaJuan Pringle, Library Manager - Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
The Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty and Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Forces have joined forces to initiate a book drive for children and young adults who are experiencing homelessness. We are in the planning stages of this drive, but our goal is to have it at the 2015 ALA Annual conference in San Francisco. More information will be coming. However, if you would like to be part of this exciting project, please contact LaJuan Pringle, (email@example.com), Lisa Gieskes (LGieskes@richlandlibrary.com) or Julie Winkelstein (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’d love to have your help!
After unsuccessful attempts to find participants for the Multicultural Exchange that was planned for Las Vegas, this event has been cancelled.
Program on White Privilege
The Task Force is also planning a program that addresses the topic of white privilege. The program will take place in 2015 during the Annual Conference in San Francisco. The idea for this program came out of conversations on the Social Responsibility Round Table Action Council (SRRTAC) list-serv involving a white privilege conference that had taken place. If there’s anyone who understood the dangers of white privilege, it was Dr. King, Jr. He alluded to this in “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” when he spoke of the white moderates who were more devoted to “order” than the tension that was needed to facilitate justice.
Task Force Meeting
The MLK, Jr. Holiday Task Force will begin planning the white privilege program at our task force meeting, which will take place on Friday, June 27, Caesars Palace, Pisa Room at 7:30 p.m. We will also be talking about the book drive at this meeting. We hope to see you there.
by Sarah Erekson, Government Publications and Municipal Reference - Chicago Public Library
GODORT speaks out on the role of libraries and the professional organization in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).
To hear voices from many areas of the library community and to build consensus about the role of the American Library Association as a professional body, ALA’s Committee on Legislation created the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Task Force. After submitting a report at Annual 2013, the FDLP Task Force was asked to continue work. They created a survey, held a forum at Midwinter and asked for round tables, divisions and sections to provide input in writing. The GODORT Legislation subcommittee worked on seven statements on broad topics of concern to the government documents community to submit to the task force. These statements were approved by GODORT Steering as official GODORT statements sent to the Committee on Legislation FDLP Task Force. The task force is expected to report its findings at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
GODORT Annual Conference program is announced
Join us for Tribes and Scribes: A Double Feature Highlighting Native American and WPA Historical Research on Monday, June 30, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 pm.
Part 1: Needles in the Haystack of History: How to use the WPA Historical Records Survey
The Work Projects Administration Historical Records Survey (WPA HRS), one of the best discovery tools for government records from the 1700s through the early 1940s, is now more easily accessed through the University of Kentucky library. Hear about what it has to offer historians and genealogists. We’ll also give strategies on how to track down present-day locations of archival material described in the HRS.
Part 2: Historic Indian Publications by the United States Federal Government
Learn about materials from the Bureau of American Ethnology, the Census, the Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and other federal documents and publications pertaining to Native Americans.
Start Annual off on the right foot: Join us at the GODORT Happy Hour or participate in the GODORT Buddy Program
GODORT’s annual conference networking and social event, the GODORT Happy Hour, is at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in the Flamingo (3555 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas), Friday, June 27, 2014 from 5pm to 7pm.
Now in its fifth year, the GODORT Buddy program matches new conference attendees or anyone new to GODORT with an experienced GODORT mentor. Meeting up at the GODORT Happy Hour, the Buddies get to make new connections and receive a packet of info about GODORT and tips on having a successful conference. Volunteer today!
By Laura Koltutsky, SRRT Action Council Member-at-Large
I recently published a book with Mark Alfino, the Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom: Concepts, Cases and Theories, which is, to this point, my proudest professional achievement. This would have never happened without the guidance and assistance of so very many people. First of all, I can’t say enough kind things about our publisher Rory Litwin. Rory and I started working on this project in 2007 when he asked me to co-edit the work. I suppose I hadn’t realized all that this would entail but it has been at times a terrifying, heartbreaking, and thrilling experience. The terror came into play as we determined how we were going to structure a work on intellectual freedom without falling victim to the insularity of the library world. Rory had a very clear idea of what he wanted from the work from the beginning and through trial and error, hundreds of hours of discussion, and consulting our editorial board for guidance, it slowly evolved. The reason this book took so long was our desire to create a unique work that looked at intellectual freedom from multiple perspectives and with a critical eye.
The second person I have to thank is my co-editor, Mark Alfino, who generously offered to help continue our work when Rory had to step out of the co-editor role in 2011. Mark is a professor of philosophy at Gonzaga University who co-authored a 1997 book with Linda Pierce, Information Ethics for Librarians. Mark, who had already written our chapter on philosophy and intellectual freedom, brought fresh insights and a passion for the project. At our lowest points, when we questioned whether the book would ever see publication, his optimism helped carry us forward. Mark and I have yet to meet in person; our book was created, edited, and published entirely using online tools. I look forward to one day having a face-to-face conversation, likely over a beverage of some sort. The passion of our authors for their topics and intellectual freedom as a core principle of their work was never in doubt, even while in deep editing mode. The heartbreaking moments occurred when some of our authors had to step out of the project for various reasons and caused us to reflect, rebalance and forge ahead.
The last group of people I have to thank are our authors, whose individual and collective writings are impressive in their depth and range. As an editor, I had to look at each chapter, reading for both content and structure. I found it easiest to break that down into separate readings focusing on one and then the other, although they become interchangeable. Our book was the product of Rory’s imagination and passion, the extensive work of the editors, and the authors who through the entire process showed an impressive level of commitment and patience. The thrilling parts of this project came in stages. The first was seeing that the book had been issued an ISBN in the forthcoming books section of Library Juice Press. The second was the realization that all or our chapters were in, edited and ready for submission. Mark and I had a few moments of disbelief that we had reached the end of the process.
The biggest thrill of all came when I opened a box in my office and held the physical book for the first time. A project like this cannot happen without the work of dozens of people and I would also like to thank them in no particular order: Dr. John Buschman, Jim Kuhn, Dr. Svetlana Mintcheva, Dr. Alvin Schrader, Dr. Dale Herbeck, Olivier Charbonneau, Dr. Toni Samek, Dr. Alison Lewis, Joanna Cornwell, Laura Quilter, Martin Wallace, Dr. Emily Knox, Dr. James V. Carmichael, Dr. Robert Holley, Dr. Susan Maret, Dr. Leonard Hammer, Dr. Robert Hauptman, Mary Minow, Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Dr. Susan Forde, Lauren Pressley, Kathrine Henderson, Tara Robertson, Dr. Tomas A. Lipinski, Dr. Douglas Raber, Robert Tiessen, Dr. Emily J. M. Knox, Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan, Neil Richards and Dr. Loretta M. Gaffney.
By Jonathan Kelley, Program Officer, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom
In 1977, a fractured American Library Association spent a significant portion of the Annual Conference in Detroit arguing over a film. The film, The Speaker … a Film about Freedom, was intended to be provocative. Indeed, the reason the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) commissioned it was to encourage libraries, schools, and community organizations around the country to consider difficult questions regarding the real meaning of freedom of expression and the First Amendment. How far are we willing to go to allow or even encourage speech that we find repugnant?
The film depicts a high school current events club that decides to invite a white supremacist professor from a local college to address the student body and the controversy that ensues. Many ALA members, including prominent members of the Black Caucus (which is co-sponsoring this program) objected to the film’s subject matter and the process by which the film was produced. After contentious debate at the 1977 Annual Conference, multiple ALA bodies voted down proposals to remove the organization’s name from the film.
This summer in Las Vegas, the IFC will be revisiting the film and the controversy surrounding it in our program, Speaking about The Speaker. The program will feature a panel of speakers, including Robert Wedgeworth, who served as ALA Executive Director in 1977; Beverly Lynch, professor at UCLA, who uses The Speaker when teaching about intellectual freedom in her LIS classes; and Mark McCallon, librarian at Abilene Christian University who has researched and written about the 1977 controversy. The panel will be moderated by Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., president of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and is cosponsored by the Association of American Publishers and the Library History Round Table, in addition to the Black Caucus.
We strongly encourage people to familiarize themselves with the film and its controversy (or refresh their memories!) in advance of the conference. In addition to screening the film twice as part of the Now Showing @ ALA film series in Las Vegas, ALA has for the first time made the film freely available to the general public at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojFYx52X-Ys, thanks to the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. To help understand how ALA planned to contextualize the film, we have made available the Discussion Guide as a PDF on the conference scheduler. American Libraries magazine has uploaded the cover story from its 1977 post-conference issue.
We especially encourage SRRT members to attend the program and share your thoughts. Intellectual freedom and social responsibility, as we know, often intersect in interesting and sometimes difficult ways. How we work through conflicts that may arise is a fascinating and important question. As Julius Jefferson says, “Rather than re-open old wounds, I hope the program will allow us to reflect on ALA’s history and future. I look forward to a thoughtful discussion of how the issues that dominated the Detroit conference—of race and culture, intellectual freedom and social responsibility, process and organization—still affect us today.”
For more information about intellectual freedom-related programs and events at Annual, visit http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/oifprograms/ifprograms/oifannualconference.
By Betty Turock, Past President, American Library Association
I am one of the ALA Past Presidents who remembers the first go round with The Speaker in 1977. A bit of context offers insight into the perspective from which I watched the film.
Not long after I received my Rutgers master's, I began my first job in the Forsyth County Library System, Winston Salem, NC. There, the myth of separate but equal was quickly replaced by the truth of separate and unequal. As the County's East Area Head, I was responsible for the East Winston Branch which, until two years before I arrived, was the segregated library for African Americans only. No one wanted to use the branch: Caucasian residents knew it was an inferior substitute; African Americans wanted an end to segregation and an opportunity to know the best of libraries as well as the best of life. My job was to bring the library back in touch with its community. I began that job knowing little to nothing about segregated libraries and little to nothing about the racism that made them possible. To learn about both, I turned to my East Winston Advisory Council, composed of the Harambees - local business owners and members of the NAACP and the Black Panthers.
Then as now, our profession had articulated principles. Chief among them were intellectual freedom, equity, intellectual property rights and privacy, which are known, valued, and accepted by the informed public. For me, dedication to intellectual freedom, social responsibility and equity reside side-by-side as fundamental values of our profession. They are not mutually exclusive. There is no contest among them. They are supportive concepts that form widely shared core beliefs to guide our professional actions.
It was therefore a shock to me when I viewed The Speaker and witnessed the naive understanding of the subtle and not so subtle racism that it portrayed. After all, ours is an association whose members had suffered segregation-an association that held segregated conferences in segregated locations over a significant period of time.
I saw as my goal participating in the Speaker debates as helping association members understand what ALA had produced. I was often tarred with the same brush as many of my colleagues, that is: I was deemed a censor. Yet I could not support a film that implied I must accept racism in order to honor my commitment to intellectual freedom.
I disagree with the premise that The Speaker presents a debate over the limits of free speech. At no time did I ask to have the film removed from available ALA products. I wanted it understood, not censored or banished. That the publicity for the presentation at the 2014 Annual conference of The Speaker: A Film About Freedom states "the debate over the limits of free speech have always been incendiary" causes me to doubt that any new directions will come of the 2014 discussion. This program seems set up to return to the divisiveness that pervaded its original introduction.
Four decades later, times have changed radically. Yet, on the cusp of the 21st century, we have returned to The Speaker, a film that failed to meet its objectives the first time around. We are no longer a nation of majorities and minorities. We are a nation of Emerging Majorities, with all that means for dealing with the challenges before us. We face issues of intellectual freedom as well as equity that include net neutrality, broadband adequacy, equal access to digital content, education for librarianship and the continuing use of the E-Rate to force compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), requiring schools and libraries that receive universal service fund discounts to purchase and use a technology protection measure on every computer to block or filter content deemed obscene or harmful to minors.
Let's face today's challenges. I stand by what I said in 1977. The Speaker is a badly flawed racist film, which diminishes ALA's defense of intellectual freedom. If it serves any purpose at all, it is as a reminder that ALA needs to be aware of and not repeat the mistakes of its inglorious past.
By Nicole A. Cooke, PhD, M.Ed, MLS, Assistant Professor, The Graduate School of Library and Information Science, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign www.nicolecooke.info
Everything Old is New Again
As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, we can still identify many disparities and instances of unfairness and outright discrimination in the American education system. Among the disparities is the lack of teachers of color in the system at all levels. Referred to as the teacher diversity gap, this phenomenon is equally acute at the collegiate level, especially when considering graduate education, and this disparity is also plainly seen in the ranks of library and information science (LIS) professionals.
The cry for a more diverse library workforce is definitely not new. Many LIS supporters, practitioners, and educators have written about the continuing need to diversify the profession. Organizations such as the American Library Association (the Spectrum Initiative) and the Association of Research Libraries (the Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce) and various programs funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services have focused a great deal of time and funding to attracting diverse candidates to the profession at the masters level. Newer, but significant, efforts have also been made to recruit diverse candidates to the doctoral and faculty levels.
To concretize this issue, the 2012 Association of Library and Information Science Educators (ALISE) statistical report indicates that in the 2010-2011 academic year, 8227 ALA accredited degrees were conferred. Of those degrees 322 were awarded to Hispanics of any race, 46 were awarded to American Indian or Alaska Natives, 355 were awarded to Black or African-Americans and just 14 were awarded to Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders. A fraction of library and information school graduates are racial and ethnic minorities and two immediate problems come to mind: the numbers of racially and ethnically diverse graduates is woefully inadequate and not representative of the communities being served - and are these graduates being retained in the workforce? How should the profession address these ongoing problems? Complex issues to be sure, but one part of the solution is to address the curriculum in LIS graduate programs.
Working from the Inside
I entered the professoriate after spending many years in the field – 13 years as a reference and instruction librarian and four years in a variety of paraprofessional positions. I was often the only person of color in an organization and I witnessed some of the inequities that come with having a diverse community served by a homogeneous staff. When I say homogenous, I refer both to the lack of diversity among the staff ranks and the lack of diversity that exists in regards to people’s thoughts, experiences and acceptance of people, communities, experiences and ideas that differ from their own.
Ideally, diversity should be infused throughout a LIS curriculum. But I’m a realist and a proponent of offering stand-alone courses that provide concentrated opportunities for students to learn about issues of diversity and social justice. I had the unique challenge and opportunity of creating a new class for my school, Information Services to Diverse Users and revising an existing, but dormant class, Social Justice for the Information Professions. My underlying motivation was to create a class that looks at diversity from a wide-angled lens, giving students an opportunity to learn about theory and research and then providing concrete knowledge they can apply in the field. Inspired by the work and research of other diversity advocates and LIS faculty members, I decided to focus on the development of empathy and cultural competence in my students. In this way, I feel I can prepare LIS students of all races and creeds to be more effective, understanding and enthusiastic in their service of diverse populations. Diverse Users is a full semester course that tackles hard and uncomfortable issues like privilege and racism. We have guest speakers that are actively working with diverse communities, we learn about fun things like urban fiction and we engage in professional skill development by working on a community analysis project and writing a mock grant for their diverse community of choice.
Social Justice in the Information Professions is an eight-week class that focuses on the legacy of social justice activities and movements that characterize our field. This class again focuses on the underlying theories and principles that emphasize the need for socially just services, resources and policies in our libraries. Social Justice also addresses tough issues, but it is less practical in nature than Diverse Users and requires much more self-work and reflection from the students. The classes complement each other nicely and will hopefully become the cornerstone of a new concentration in the curriculum.
These classes are personally rewarding and have the potential to be transformative to the students/aspiring LIS professionals. Having dedicated diversity courses in the curriculum does not solve the problem of recruiting and retaining more diverse candidates to the profession, but the courses can serve two powerful functions, providing exposure to diversity and social justice and better preparing LIS graduates to work in the real world. By enhancing the curriculum in this way, I hope more diverse candidates will see themselves in the curriculum and be inspired towards this career. In that way I feel, if I build it, they will come!
The SRRT newsletter is always looking for good articles, essays and letters to the editor. The next submission deadline is September 5, 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. Submissions should be 500 to 1,000 words. Graphics are encouraged. 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 Amy Honisett at email@example.com, 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 reviews should be submitted to the Reviews Editor, Candise Branum, at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 book reviews editor when appropriate.
SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright : 2011 by the Social Responsibilities Round Table. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without permission.
Editor: Amy Honisett, email@example.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 whimsy strikes.