Recently, a librarian shared her experiences at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference after she was verbally attacked by a white colleague at an ALA meeting. This happened during a public Council meeting and was not dealt with during the Council meeting. A summary of what happened, from the African-American Councillor’s perspective, can be read in its entirety here.
The recent events at the ALA Council are at the very least disturbing. Events such as these only confirm that it is not enough that libraries and library associations spout their commitment to diversity with a statement on their websites. More needs to be done. It is not just about demographics, it is about true integration. Until libraries and associations show that they can and are operationalizing diversity at every level, and make diversity a part of librarianship, instead of an add-on, these events will continue to occur.
A number of associations, including the American Indian Library Association (AILA), Asian and Pacific American Library Association (APALA), Black Caucus of ALA (BCALA), REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking), ACRL, and ARL, among others, have issued statements against racism and discrimination. Their statements can be found here:
To our dear colleagues regardless of your race or ethnicity, it is not enough if you speak of the value of diversity. Mean it. Stand up for your colleagues. Your silence does not make diversity problems disappear. And don’t place the burden of diversity on diverse groups alone (Schmidt, 2019).
Schmidt, J. (2019). “Perspectives: White Fragility and Privilege in Librarianship”. Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship 4 (January), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.33137/cjal-rcbu.v4.32166.