SRRT Newsletter - Issue 193, December 2015



Letter from the Editor

by Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow

Melissa Cardenas-Dow

Dear SRRT Newsletter readers:

The current issue of the SRRT Newsletter brings you news of events and meetings at our ALA Midwinter Meeting 2016 in Boston, as well as a preview of plans for the ALA Annual Meeting 2016 in Orlando.

As we usher the 2016 New Year, we also look forward to new service opportunities within SRRT. Please see SRRT Coordinator Nikki Winslow's message on the upcoming elections and ways for members to become more involved in Round Table business.

The 2016 ALA Midwinter conference is scheduled earlier this year, from January 8 to 12, 2016. As in previous years, SRRT has a number of committee and task force sessions scheduled for Midwinter 2016. And as things go with ALA Midwinter Meetings, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration is sure to be an astounding draw.

This issue also has a couple of essays that underscore the social responsibilities and social justice values of the librarian profession. As with other opinion pieces published in the SRRT Newsletter, the views expressed are not necessarily those of individual Editorial Board members, the SRRT Action Council, or SRRT itself. We chose to publish such pieces in order help our readers to consider more deeply our Round Table's roles within ALA, our own individual values as professional practitioners, and the intersections between our professional social responsibilities and current trends and events.

I hope this issue of the SRRT Newsletter proves helpful, informative, and useful to you, dear readers.

All the best,
Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
SRRT Newsletter Editor


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SRRT Coordinator's Column

by Nikki Winslow, SRRT Coordinator, Branch Manager - Spring Valley Library

Nikki Winslow

Can you believe it's almost time for another Midwinter Conference? And then right after that, elections for Action Council? I feel like I barely remember this year (or the last decade as far as that goes)! Knowing this, I wanted to dedicate my column this quarter to highlighting both of these upcoming events.

Are you planning to make the trip to Boston in the beginning of January? Don't forget your coat and scarf! It would be a great time to get more involved with SRRT since the last place you're going to want to be is outside, right? On Friday night at 7:30 p.m., we will have our SRRT All Task Force meeting where anyone interested can talk to members of the Feminist Task Force, the Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force, the International Responsibilities Task Force and the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force. These groups would love to give you information about what their task forces are working on and trying to accomplish, and they are always happy to have more members join the cause!

We also have two SRRT Action Council business meetings at Midwinter. Our first is on Saturday morning from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and our second is on Sunday afternoon from 3:00-4:00 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend, and I know I always learn many new things in my interactions with this dynamic group. We have three vacancies this coming year on the Action Council, so I invite newer SRRT members to attend a meeting and see what it's about. Hopefully, you will be inspired to throw your hat in the ring and run for one of those vacant seats! If you are interested in doing so, please email me and I will send you all the information you need to join the race.

I have been very lucky to be a speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration for the past two years and I can't say enough about how well-planned and inspiring this program is. Thank you to our Task Force and their partners for the excellent work they do for this celebration. I'm sure this year's program will be just as wonderful. The Celebration is always held at Midwinter on Monday morning from 6:30-7:30 a.m. I know that sounds early, but it is well worth getting up for!

In conclusion, I am proud of all the work that SRRT does throughout the year. I know I speak for the Round Table when I say that we love to have newer members share their thoughts and ideas with us and become more involved. If there are any questions I can answer, please don't hesitate to email me.


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ALA Midwinter Meeting 2015 Schedule

ALA Midwinter Meeting 2015

Friday, January 8, 2016

Amelia Bloomer Project Committee Meeting I (SRRT-FTF)
1/08/16, 12:00-4:00 p.m.
Renaissance Waterfront -- Room Brewster

All Task Force Meeting
1/08/16, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
Westin Waterfront -- Galleria Room

Feminist Task Force Meeting I (SRRT)
1/08/16, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
Westin Waterfront -- Galleria Room

Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force Meeting (SRRT)
1/08/16, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
Westin Waterfront -- Galleria Room

International Responsibilities Task Force Meeting (SRRT)
1/08/16, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
Westin Waterfront -- Galleria Room

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force Meeting (SRRT)
1/08/16, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
Westin Waterfront -- Galleria Room


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Action Council I Meeting (SRRT)
1/09/16, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 108

Amelia Bloomer Project Committee Meeting II (SRRT-FTF)
1/09/16, 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Renaissance Waterfront -- Room Brewster


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Amelia Bloomer Project Committee Meeting III (SRRT-FTF)
1/10/16, 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Renaissance Waterfront -- Room Brewster

Action Council II Meeting (SRRT)
1/10/16, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 259A

Progressive Librarians Guild (SRRT-AFL)
1/10/16, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 259A


Monday, January 11, 2016

Amelia Bloomer Project Committee Meeting IV (SRRT-FTF)
1/11/16, 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Renaissance Waterfront -- Room Brewster


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Feminist Task Force News

by Audrey Robinson-Nkongola, Assistant Professor/Campus Librarian - Western Kentucky University

The Feminist Task Force (FTF) events during ALA Midwinter Meeting 2016 are:

  • All Task Force Meeting: 1/8/2016 7:30-9:00 p.m., Westin, Galleria Room
  • Feminist Task Force Meeting: 1/8/2016 7:30-9:00 p.m. Westin,Galleria Room
  • Amelia Bloomer Project, Committee Meeting 1: 1/8/2016 12:00-4:00 p.m., Renaissance Waterfront, Brewster
  • Amelia Bloomer Project, Committee Meeting 2: 1/9/2016 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Renaissance Waterfront, Brewster
  • Amelia Bloomer Project, Committee Meeting 3: 1/10/2016 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Renaissance Waterfront, Brewster
  • Amelia Bloomer Project, Committee Meeting 4: 1/11/2016 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Renaissance Waterfront, Brewster


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Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force News

Our Task Force is making plans to host a program tied to equity for the Annual Conference in Orlando.

UTK Lamda SIS Save the Date

What: This Knoxville, Tennessee Summit brings together people who care about youth and who are working to support all youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, are experiencing homelessness or are unstably housed. We will be joined by experts from across the country. This Summit is funded primarily by an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, LAMBDA (Library Anchor Models for Bridging Diversity Achievements).

Keynote speakers include:

  • Jama Shelton, from the True Colors Fund, NYC
  • Pamela Sheffer, Program Director, Just Us, Nashville
  • Kristy Gale, Teen Librarian, Seattle Public Library
  • Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager, Seattle Public Library

Who: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville School of Information Sciences (SIS) and The Center for Literacy, Education & Employment (CLEE) invite library staff, library students, social workers, social work students, public health workers and students, service providers, members of the faith community, parents, youth and all others who are interested in working together to address LGBTQ youth homelessness and youth homelessness in general.

When: March 9, 2016

Where: The UT Knoxville campus


Why: To provide a venue where we can share our expertise, ask questions, and strategize. To truly address LGBTQ youth homelessness, we all need to work together. We look forward to your participation as we listen, learn, discuss, and plan.

This event will be live-streamed! Please consider joining us in person or online.

For more information, email Dr. Julie Ann Winkelstein, Postdoctoral Researcher at

Registration information available soon!


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International Responsibilities Task Force News

by Al Kagan, African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Emeritus - University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and Tom Twiss, Political Science Liaison Librarian, University of Pittsburgh

During the last few months the IRTF has continued its work in countering mass surveillance and in publicizing issues related to Palestinian libraries.

SRRT members will recall that the task force, in collaboration with allied ALA councilors at the ALA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, put forward a resolution against mass surveillance. This followed the passage by Congress of a very watered-down version of the USA FREEDOM Act - an act that was originally meant to greatly restrict mass surveillance. Unfortunately, that bill was so watered down that it became acceptable to the national security establishment. Our resolution sought to put ALA on record as in favor of the provisions of the original USA FREEDOM Act, the repeal of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (the so-called "library provision"), and amendment of Executive Order 12333 and the FISA Act to try to eliminate mass surveillance. These positions affirm similar efforts by ALA partners such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

There was a lot of support for our work at the ALA Council, but in a less than thoughtful reaction against SRRT, the Council's Legislation (COL) and Intellectual Freedom Committees (IFC) tried to substitute a bland generic resolution that would have had very little (if any) usefulness. Amazingly, the Council was adamant they wanted something stronger, and there was general support for our specific recommendations. This led to a long, complicated debate that seemed to be heading towards a merger of the two resolutions. At the last moment, the Council instead decided to send both proposals back to COL and IFC and to wait for a more coherent version to be voted at the Midwinter meeting in Boston. Since the original resolution came from us, COL and IFC were obligated to consult SRRT in the redrafting. Therefore they set up a working group with two representatives each from COL, IFC, SRRT, and two members of the Council who were involved in the discussions. Laura Koltutsky and Al Kagan represented SRRT on the working group.

After vigorous debate, the working group has come up with a document that has been approved in general by all parties. We hope that there will not be another attempt to water it down in Boston.

Meanwhile in the last few months, members of the IRTF have been working on plans for an exciting program on Palestinian libraries at the ALA annual conference in Orlando next summer. This event, which will be jointly sponsored by SRRT and Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP), is tentatively titled "Palestinian Libraries Under Occupation."

Two prominent librarians will be coming from Palestine for this program: Randa Kamal and Diana Sayej-Naser. Kamal is the director of libraries at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem and President of the Palestinian Library Association. Sayej-Naser is director of the Main Library at Birzeit University in Birzeit, Palestine near Ramallah, and also General Coordinator of the Palestinian Library and Information Consortium (PALICO), a consortium of academic libraries. Both will speak about the special problems and issues encountered by Palestinian libraries and librarians, about what they are doing to address those problems, and about what the international library community can do to help.

For the outcome of the discussion on the surveillance resolution, and for more details about the Palestinian libraries program, please see future editions of this newsletter.


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Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force News

by LaJuan Pringle, Library Manager -- Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Mary Frances Berry

Please join us for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration, which will take place on Monday, January 11, 6:30 a.m. at the Boston Convention and Exhibit Center (BCEC), Room 205BC. The theme of this year's celebration will be "Hold Fast to Dreams," in honor of Langston Hughes' iconic poem and its inspiration for Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Acclaimed civil rights activist, academic, and author Dr. Mary Frances Berry will keynote the event, and ALA Past-President Dr. Barbara Stripling will deliver the Call-to-Action address.

When the Task Force meets in Boston, we will discuss plans for the 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando. This year, the Task Force will offer a program that falls in line with the charge of the ALA Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to generate public and honest conversations about these three concepts. . If anyone is interested in discussing this, as well as learning more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force, you are more than welcome to join us. The King Jr. Holiday Task Force meeting will take place Friday, January 8, 7:30 p.m., at a location to be announced. Please check the Midwinter webpage for updates.


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ALA Task Force for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (TFEDI) News

by LaJuan Pringle, Library Manager -- Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

The Task Force is beginning to shift from data collecting and educational awareness to strategies and recommendations. The Task Force has already conducted two membership surveys and will introduce a final survey that will query the economics of belonging to ALA. The Task Force will also host two learning sessions in Boston, to be conducted by Community Change Inc., a nonprofit which will provide a training session on challenging systemic racism. The sessions will be held on Sunday, January 10 and Monday, January 11, both at 9 a.m., at locations to be announced. The Task Force is also looking to Orlando as it will finalize its work there. The Task Force hopes to build a program around Florida's Stand Your Ground law. We are also looking at organizing a Librarians Build Communities/Day of Service event in Orlando. The Task Force is currently working with Chapter Relations to further plan this event.


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Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) News

Submitted by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, SustainRT Member-at-Large

News from the ALA Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT)

Join ALA's newest round table today and help change the world! It's just $10 to join SustainRT:

SustainRT webinar series - free, open to all

  • Thursday, February 4, 2016, 12:15 - 12:45 p.m. (EST)
  • Topic: Learn about Chelsea Green Publishing Books-to-Action Program with special guest, Kate Weiss, Chelsea Green Publishing


ALA Midwinter Conference Happenings

  • SustainRT Board Meeting (all welcome) Saturday, January 9, 2016 1:00-2:30 p.m.
  • Social Event with Project ARCC Sunday, January 10, 3:00 p.m.


Past Webinars and Tweet-ups

  • Monday, October 19, 2015, 1:00 p.m. (EST), Tweet-up with ProjectARCC - View the Storify of the event!
  • ProjectARCC (Archivists Responding to Climate Change) and ALA's SustainRT (Sustainability Roundtable) co-hosted a tweet-up to discuss how we as archivists and librarians can reduce our professional carbon footprint and implement sustainable practices in our institutions #SustainLIS and by following @projectARCC and @sustainRT on Twitter: View the #sustainlis Tweets
  • Thursday October 15th, 2015, 12:15-12:45 p.m. (EST) - View the video recording Webinar Topic: "Sustainable Communities and ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries' with Miguel A. Figueroa Thursday, July 16th, 2015, 12:15 - 12:45 p.m. (EST) - View the video recording
  • Webinar Topic: selected sustainability projects from ALA 2015 SustainRT Lightning Rounds, project team updates, ways you can get involved!


Join ALA's newest round table today and help change the world! It's just $10 to join SustainRT:


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Book Review: The Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Matthias Dietz and Heiko Garrelts, Eds. 2014. Routledge International Handbooks, Oxon, UK and New York: Earthscan/Routledge. ISBN: 9780415839259 (hdbk) and 9780203773536 (ebk). 363 p. $225.00

Reviewed by Frederick W. Stoss - Associate Librarian, SUNY University at Buffalo

Dietz's and Garrets' Handbook of the Climate Change Movement compiles thirty-eight essays by mostly non-American authors. These essays describe in detail the excruciating history of climate change activism that emerged as a social movement in response to growing scientific evidence: that human activities were altering the Earth's climate to the detriment of the environment and the human condition. These historical vignettes on the social history of climate change are cast during an era when the scientific and technical understanding of the causes, effects, implications and consequences of living in a greenhouse gas constrained world are becoming more complex. These scientific findings are becoming more intertwined in a rapidly growing and increasingly controversial environment of policy, economic, and political arguments.

The Handbook is in three parts. The first, "Theoretical Prospects of the Climate Movement," establishes a historical overview and perspective of the emergence of climate change in its social context with six essays. Part two is a series of essays describing the context of climate change in Britain, Germany, the United States, Australia, Brazil, India, China, and Africa. Biographical essays of leading figures include activists: McKibben, Klein, Hansen, Gore, DeChristopher, Rose, Sprat and Sutton among them. International NGOs and network organizations are also profiled, including Climate Action Network International, Climate Justice Now!, the Climate Alliance, Energy Action Coalition, Plane Stupid and Germanwatch. The third and last part of this work, "Arenas, Activities, and Development of the Climate Movement," is a series of essays describing the ongoing debates and dialogues driving the social and policy aspects of climate change. These essays reflect on the future of scientific, social, and policy research needed to address global climate change.

This work does a remarkable job of providing a well written overview and balanced discussion of the social aspects related to the climate change movement. I like to think of this work as the first of a three -volume set of similar handbooks, with the other two being titled the Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Research and the Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Skepticism and Denial. Both are much needed, the former perhaps more so.

If you are looking for that program booklet for the players in the climate change movement, this is what you need to not only identify the players, but also to gain insights into their backgrounds, perspectives, and contributions to the more progressive activist community within the movement. The Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement is suggested as something more than a directory-style reference book, but rather as a work deserving to be checked out and read by academic, government, and private researcher, public, and private educators and their students, policy makers, elected and appointed officials, and managers and administrators of climate-related programs and projects, all of whom find themselves confronting those realities of "living in a greenhouse gas-constrained world," and who are leading us to a time when the world is no longer constrained by greenhouse gases.


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Essay: Librarianship and Salaita

Submitted by Al Kagan, African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Emeritus - University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

This year the University of Illinois has received global attention from those concerned with academic freedom and human rights. The controversy has concerned the case of Palestinian-American scholar and activist Steven Salaita. He was hired for a tenured position in the American Indian Studies Department to help build a groundbreaking research agenda based on comparative indigenous studies. As a prominent activist in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, his appointment came to the attention of powerful Zionist big donors and pro-Israeli government administrators who were looking for ways to prevent him from joining the university community. According to the former chancellor and board of trustees president, his appointment was rescinded just before the start of the fall 2014 semester because of his angry and sometimes profane tweets concerning the latest Israeli military massacre of Gaza that summer. They claimed his lack of civility made him unfit to join the faculty. And since the trustees had not yet officially approved the appointment, they claimed that he was never actually hired in the first place. After a student and faculty protest, a boycott of the campus, sanction by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and lengthy state and federal court cases, the University just settled with Salaita for $600,000 and payment of his lawyers' fees of $275,000.

I have been asked how librarianship relates to the Salaita case. Although from the outside, there might not seem to be many links, there are in fact several. There are complicated intertwining issues that confronted our campus and academia at-large: freedom of speech, shared governance, racism against American Indians, and the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Freedom of Speech

Of course, librarians are historically strong advocates for freedom of speech and academic freedom. A quick look at the Library Bill of Rights, first adopted by ALA in 1939, makes this clear: Point 5 of the current version states that "Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas." Furthermore ALA has an Office for Intellectual Freedom, an Intellectual Freedom Committee of its governing Council, and an Intellectual Freedom Round Table. Several divisions of ALA and ALA state chapters also have such committees. This parallels nicely with the AAUP's statements on academic freedom, first promulgated in 1940. The current version, titled Protecting Academic Freedom begins with the statement: "Protecting academic freedom is the AAUP's core mission."

From the outside, one would imagine that UIUC librarians as well as teachers and students in the UIUC Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) would be strong supporters of Steven Salaita's freedom of expression, including his right to not be fired over angry tweets. But neither the library faculty, the GSLIS faculty, nor any LIS student organizations took any position. In fact this silence was notable when compared with the 40 or so UIUC academic departments and units (including Jewish studies) that publically supported Steven Salaita's case to regain his job. These departments and units also called for the resignation of either or both of the Provost and Chancellor over their seemingly arbitrary actions. (Both have since been forced to resign.)

One faculty member who dared to raise the issue at a GSLIS faculty meeting was actually accused of anti-Semitism. Several LIS graduate students were told that signing a petition in support of Salaita would be committing professional suicide.The local chapter of the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) remained silent in the face of faculty hostility to the cause, and the PLG chapter advisor implied that it was better to work quietly than to take a public position.

Shared Governance

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois is a publicly supported institution for higher education. As such, its statutes and bylaws state that the faculty shall be engaged in shared governance through the campus Academic Senate and within all faculties. The Academic Senate also has student and staff representatives. All hiring and firing decisions are supposed to be made at the level of the various academic departments and units, with only pro forma oversight by campus and university administrators. In this case, all the required hiring procedures were dutifully followed, and there was no question that the American Indian Studies faculty wanted to hire Salaita because of his comparative work on indigenous studies, dealing with American Indian as well as Palestinian research. In hiring Salaita, the American Indian Studies Department was beginning a process to become an outstanding model of such groundbreaking comparative analysis.

The university's Board of Trustees and chancellor had the statutory requirement to consult with appropriate faculty before terminating Salaita's position. However, only a very few faculty closely aligned with the campus administration were involved in the firing, and none of them had any connection to the American Indian Studies Department. In a well-researched report, the Senate's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure found that procedures had been violated; the Committee then called for the reinstatement of Professor Salaita.

In addressing librarianship, we should note that our professional association, ALA, adheres to democratic principles that promote participation in governance. For example, the ALA Council is a democratically-elected legislative body that makes policy for the association. ALA units are also to act in adherence with these democratic principles.

One might ask why the campus library and GSLIS faculty were so timid. First one must consider ongoing state budget cuts, and the resulting wide-ranging campus reorganization, centralization, and merging of numerous offices and units, including within the library. Untenured and non-tenure track faculty are feeling increasingly vulnerable. I can speak from personal experience about the library faculty situation. For many years, the library administration has actively worked to disengage the library faculty from important shared governance activities. While maintaining the usual committees for hiring and evaluation, faculty meetings became mostly opportunities for the library administration to tell the faculty what the administration wanted them to know. It has been very rare indeed for the faculty to even take a vote at these meetings. In my role as a long-time senator representing the library faculty, I tried several times to engage various issues. Very few library faculty have been willing to voice opinions in opposition to the library administration's neoliberal worldview. In the end, this destruction of the collegial model was a major reason why I decided to retire two years ago.

I have been an adjunct GSLIS faculty member, teaching one course per year for 20 years, but my involvement in the internal affairs of GSLIS has been minimal. Nevertheless it is clear there has been a major shift away from a humanistic orientation to an embrace of information science. On October 22nd, the school's faculty voted to submit a formal proposal to drop the word "Library" from the school's name. So this seems to be a fait accompli. The 40 or so academic units that supported Salaita were from the humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary programs. The sciences and engineering have been silent, and possibly saw the case as a distraction from their well-funded work. These are the same units that prevented the formation of a tenure and tenure-track faculty union last year. (However non-tenure track faculty were successful in unionizing.) As LIS leans more and more heavily towards "information science," we should expect less and less engagement around core values of librarianship, including freedom of speech and democratic practice.

Racism against American Indians

Like the rest of the country, Illinois has a racist past. Many slaves lived in the state during its colonial and territory periods. Slavery was not banned until 1848 and the Black Codes were not repealed until 1865. American Indians were also enslaved in Illinois. The state had hundreds of so-called "sundown towns" right up until recent decades, in which people of color had to leave by sundown. As a state higher education institution, the University of Illinois has all the racial baggage of its state heritage.

As we know, there has been a movement to abolish racist American Indian mascots at many universities over the past couple of decades. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had Chief Illiniwek as its "symbol" or mascot from 1926 to 2007. The Chief was finally banished after massive protests over many years by students and faculty including the Academic Senate. The final straw was sanctions from the NCAA that prohibited the football team from playing in bowl games. However, neither the campus nor university administration ever admitted The Chief was a racist symbol, and the campus band still plays the same Chief music at the football games. Although Chief apparel was in theory banned, it is still readily available and seen around the campus. The hurtful campus atmosphere towards Native Americans led to very few Indian students and faculty wanting to come to the campus.

As part of the program to assuage the protestors, the campus established a Native American House in 2002. Then the campus instituted an American Indian Studies Program in 2005. After officially "retiring" The Chief, the campus created an American Indian Studies undergraduate minor in 2008 and a graduate minor in 2009. So attitudes have recently been improving for American Indians on campus. Until the Steven Salaita case, the academic program was built by hiring more faculty. As a result of the repressive climate after the firing of Salaita, all American Indian Studies faculty except one have either left the university or transferred to other academic departments.

Neither the campus library nor GSLIS faculty have ever taken much role in these ongoing protests and debates. The library's Diversity, Gender, & Multicultural Services Librarian is responsible for collections and services for American Indian Studies.

Human Rights of the Palestinian People

As on other US campuses in recent years, student groups have gained a bit more strength in organizing for Palestinian rights. Locally this includes chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association. But there is also a strong Zionist student presence, mostly through the Hillel chapter. It is particularly interesting to note that the program in Jewish Culture and Society was among the 40 or so academic departments and units that prominently supported Salaita. The Jewish studies faculty clearly rejected allegations of anti-Semitism against Salaita. Their support played an important part in mobilizing other campus departments and groups. To my knowledge, librarians or GSLIS faculty have played no organized role in defending Palestinian rights in any venue.


Although librarians and library science educators have an illustrious history of being on the frontlines of activism for social change since at least the 1960s, these UIUC faculty groups have played no part whatsoever in the struggle to rehire and guarantee the rights of Steven Salaita. I see this as symbolic of an unfortunate but marked shift in the core values of our profession from humanism to information science. On the other hand, there are hopeful signs in the birth of new student chapters of the Progressive Librarians Guild, and the growing membership and continuing work of SRRT. It will be up to the new generation to turn things around.


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Essay: Social Justice and Libraries

Submitted by Dr. Julie Ann Winkelstein, SRRT Editorial Board member, postdoctoral researcher, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

In the past few months, I've attended two non-library social justice events. The first was a talk by Sir Michael Marmot, who addressed health disparities and social inequality. Marmot, who is the Chair on the Social Determinants of Health of the World Health Organization, has a new book out, released in November 2015, The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World, and he presented highlights from the book to an overflowing and attentive audience made up of public health faculty and students, as well as the general public. As far as I know, there were no other librarians in attendance.

The second event was the "Human Rights Fellowship Conference 2015" at the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. This conference was an opportunity for current fellows to give a brief description of their fellowship work the last year. There were three panels: "Housing Justice," "Central American Migrations & Violence," and "Voices of the Unheard." I was only able to attend the first session and it was directly connected to affordable housing and homelessness, two related topics of interest to me. The fellows were inspiring - each seemed to have been changed by their fellowship, and I look forward to seeing what they do with their work. The keynote speaker was a past fellow, Stacey Murphy, who is currently Director of Strategic Initiatives at Abode Services, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for those who are experiencing homelessness. In her keynote, she talked about the tension between research and what she called "on the ground" work, which is what she does currently.

One reason I go to these events is to hear the speakers and to participate in the conversations. But the other reason I go is to ask: How do you see public libraries playing a part in your work? I do this everywhere I go but I particularly like to bring it up in conversations about social justice. Marmot's answer was the best one could do in a situation in which you haven't given any thought to a topic and yet you want to give a thoughtful answer. He basically said public libraries can provide resources as well as a safe place off for the streets for what he called "dossers" - a term I'm hoping he only meant as a description and not a judgment. However one of the attendees, a faculty member of the University of San Francisco Medical Center, came up to me afterwards and we had a long talk about youth experiencing homelessness (one of her research interests) and public libraries. She was excited to connect with me about our shared interest.

When I asked at the Human Rights conference, though, I was given an answer I've been contemplating ever since. I prefaced my question by explaining I'm involved in a federal grant that provides training to public librarians on how to create welcoming and supportive environments to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. When I say this, people are usually surprised that libraries are thinking about this and they are interested in hearing more. Two of the panelists talked about training for librarians and what is happening now in San Francisco (for example, SFPL has a social worker on staff who oversees interns who were previously homeless).

However, Stacey Murphy began her answer by saying it's great that libraries are trying to figure out ways to welcome and help people experiencing homelessness, but why should libraries be the place they have to go during the day? What they need is housing and that's a political issue. If libraries really want to help, she told me, we need to work on the systemic problem of the lack of adequate and sufficient housing.

When she said that, I thought: She's right, we do. It isn't enough to go from conference to conference, training to training, providing guidance on how to address how procedures, fees, and public conduct policies create barriers to access for people experiencing homelessness. It isn't enough to encourage partnerships with local organizations, so everyone can work together. It isn't even enough to tell poignant stories and offer opportunities for people who are unstably housed to tell their stories, too, so we-as library staff or researchers-can be moved enough to want to do something that will help make the daily lives of this disparate group better. We need to do more.

I'm not saying that individual and even institutional examinations of the myriad ways we can help shouldn't be done--I definitely think they should be. But as we see with topics like climate change, addressing homelessness--that is, addressing the issue that there simply isn't nearly enough housing for everyone--is bigger than our individual actions. The main issue that must be addressed is funding. As members of the American Library Association and as library workers we can use our power, privilege, and prestige to press for changes on the state and federal levels.

I know many of us are already doing this. But many of us aren't, partly because we haven't had the guidance on how to connect our libraries to larger societal issues. One way we could do that is to learn more about "cultural humility," a term that encompasses not only cultural competence but also the need to question our institutions and the ways in which they do or don't work to redress inequalities. As Fisher-Borne, Cain and Martin (2015) tell us in their article, "From Mastery to Accountability: Cultural Humility as an Alternative to Cultural Competence: The concept of cultural humility takes into account the fluidity of culture and challenges both individuals and institutions to address inequalities (emphasis added)." They describe three core elements of cultural humility: Institutional and individual accountability; lifelong learning and critical reflection; and mitigating power imbalances.

All three of the above principles can be applied to libraries, if we are willing to employ them. To me, this is the core of social justice in librarianship and where we need more conversations about what that means and whether or not we can agree on our responsibilities as institutions. I was glad to see that the ALA Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is sponsoring a discussion about race at the upcoming Midwinter conference 2016. I was particularly happy to see this part of the description: "In this interactive workshop we will explore how race, systemic racism, and racial privilege have implications for our personal and professional lives. It will provide tools to help us better recognize and address racism and other forms of oppression in our relationships, organizations, and institutions." Race, as well as housing status, health, incarceration, literacy, environmental concerns, disabilities, and other social justice concerns are all issues that can be examined on both micro and macro levels. As librarians we need to do both. We need to ask ourselves: What is my institution doing about this? How is my institution encouraging me to address these inequalities?

In the long run, tackling issues on all levels helps make our communities thrive. Communities build libraries and as the staff in those libraries, we must acknowledge our role in supporting each and every member. If, as Michael Marmot tells us, literacy, education, meaningful and adequate employment, and exposure to ideas all contribute to the health of a community, we can not only support access to these, we can examine any barriers and help address them, both personally and institutionally. This is social justice. This is librarianship.


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Call for Editorial Board Members

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, membership to the SRRT Newsletter Editorial Board might be just the volunteer position you're looking for!

We are in need of two members who can serve on the Editorial Board as soon as possible.

Editorial Board memberships positions are determined by the SRRT Action Council.

If you are interested in becoming members of the SRRT Editorial Board, 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 Newsletter Editor and SRRT Editorial Board member, at micd.srrt.newsletter [at]


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Call for Submissions

The SRRT newsletter is always looking for good articles, essays and letters to the editor. The next submission deadline is March 4, 2016.

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 original submissions and inquiries to SRRT Newsletter Editor Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow at micd.srrt.newsletter [at], 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 Meaghan Hunt-Wilson, the SRRT Newsletter Reviews Editor at SRRTreviews [at], indicating "Reviews" in the subject line of your e-mail.


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Publication Information

SRRT Newsletter is published quarterly by the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. ISSN: 0749-1670. Copyright : 2015 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]

Reviews Editor: Meaghan Hunt-Wilson, SRRTreviews [at]

Editorial Board Members: Erik Sean Estep, Michael Gorman, Rebecca Martin, and Julie Winkelstein.

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.


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