SRRT Coordinator's Column

October 2022

by April Sheppard, SRRT Coordinator (2022-2023)

SRRT has always believed that social responsibility is a core value of librarianship and being human. One of my favorite statements in our founding documents is, “the library is a castle where librarians wait for people to enter; the library should be an octopus.”1 I’ve always understood this to mean that instead of sitting and watching things unfold around us, that we have an obligation to act, to “shorten the lag between what needs to be done and the problem that we know exists.”1 Or, in the words made famous by Solomon Burke, “if you don’t say it’s wrong, then that says it’s right.”2 And I think that’s exactly what we tried to accomplish at the 2022 ALA Annual Conference. We submitted five resolutions, resulting in mixed results.

Our first resolution was the Resolution Calling for Student Loan Cancellation. This resolution asks that ALA, on behalf of its members, call on President Biden to cancel student loan debt for all borrowers. This
resolution passed and a letter was sent to President Biden on August 22nd. Coincidentally, Biden did announce cancellation of $10,000 of student debt for low- to middle-income borrowers. While this move is
appreciated, I believe that only full forgiveness addresses the inequalities that student debt exacerbates, particularly the racial wealth gap.3

Our Resolution on Continuing Virtual Access to ALA Membership Meetings passed the Membership Meeting but was unsurprisingly deferred to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee. This resolution calls for ALA to provide virtual access to Membership Meetings to those ALA members who are unable to attend in-person meetings. We will monitor this resolution and push for its approval at a later date.

Our third resolution, Resolution on Damage and Destruction of Libraries, Schools, and Other Cultural Institutions in Ukraine, passed the Membership Meeting, then passed Council, 130-6-7. While the resolution easily passed, SRRT did receive some feedback asking why ALA, and SRRT, always seems to focus on Western institutions. I feel this is a fair question and I am interested in learning how SRRT can be more equitable in the issues we champion for.

Fourthly, our Resolution in Defense of the Right to Engage in Political Boycotts passed the Membership Meeting with amendments, but was defeated at Council, 51-83-9. While we expected this result, we were pleased to see that this resolution fared better than previous attempts at anti-boycott resolutions. In the past, we have received some criticism that our anti-boycott resolutions appear to be anti-Israel. This is not the case at all. With this criticism in mind, we did try to strengthen this resolution to show how anti-boycott laws are increasing and how any anti-boycott law, regardless of theme, is a free speech issue. We made progress, but there was still some criticism. Unfortunately, I believe anti-boycott laws will only grow in scope, theme, and severity and I do foresee future resolution attempts.

Lastly, SRRT members drafted the Resolution on Body Autonomy, Equity and ALA Conference Sites in the late-night hours after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The resolution asked ALA to limit future conference sites to states that support body autonomy, using similar conference sites resolutions regarding equal rights and LGBTQ discrimination as a foundation. It was defeated in Council 31-97-7. However, since Annual, ALA has issued a statement: American Library Association (ALA) Condemns Proposed State Legislation Limiting Access to Information on Reproductive Health.

In addition to our resolutions, SRRT also learned of the No Tech for ICE campaign demanding that LexisNexis stop selling names, addresses, phone data, license plate images, utility bill information, credit history, and more to ICE that is later used against immigrant communities. SRRT is currently having discussions regarding the campaign and possible action, including resolutions, that SRRT can take to help bring awareness.

I will close with a few reminders. First, any ALA member can submit resolutions to Membership Meetings. I encourage you to use your voice and your passion to bring to light the issues that are important to you. Second, SRRT members can always come to Action Council or myself to discuss any issues that they would like SRRT to take on.


April Sheppard
she/they, her/them
SRRT Action Council Coordinator (2022-2023)

& Assistant Director
Dean B. Ellis Library
Arkansas State University



1. SRRT. (September 21, 1968). Organizing Meeting of Round Table on Social Responsibilities of Libraries. American Library Association.
2. Burke, Solomon. “None of Us Are Free.” Don’t Give Up On Me, Fat Possum Records, 2002.
3. Hanson, Melanie. (June 13, 2022). Student Loan Debt by Race. Education Data Initiative.