I know much of the RA world is reeling from the news that Early Word is shutting down after 9 years, and I will have a post about it tomorrow with my comments, but right now, I want to finish up my ALA Annual recap posts with the slides and recording of one the the best ALA programs I have ever been to. Why? Because the presenters did more than just bemoan the obvious problems, they all focused on how we can ALL start actually tackling this issue.
Growing Readership Through Diversity was a honest, no holds barred discussion about the lack of diverse titles in adult collections and RA conversations. Please click here to see the slides and hear a recording of the entire presentation.
You can also click here to see an excellent recap by Stephanie Sendaula from Library Journal.
It all began with Juliet Grames, a white publisher who did a no holds barred take down of herself and her colleagues, calling the entire publishing industry out for being the problem. We can talk about trying to include more diverse books in our curated lists and displays all we want, but if the publishers are made up of white, privileged, upper middle class New Yorkers who mostly publish people like them, we are never going to make progress. Juliet used concrete examples and frank language to lay out the problem, but she also presented it in a way that is useful to both allow us to check our own privilege honestly AND encourage conversation.
This is not your typical diversity discussion. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY READERS NEEDS TO LISTEN TO THIS.
After Juliet, Robin Bradford spoke about specific titles that you can suggest right now to diversify your genre collections. Many of her comments built off of the comments and presentation she did for ARRT the week before. Please click here for our compiled notes from that program.
Finally Jamie LaRue from the ALA office of Intellectual Freedom talked about an initiative where the ALA will be working with others to help create a review source for self-published works, which due to the problems Juliet outlined above, are much more diverse and no less “good,” but because of many library collection development rules, cannot be added to all library collections. [Jamie also needs your help which she explains].
Please listen to this program and use it to start a conversation among your own staff. It would be great if you could all listen together for a staff development activity, but I realize that can’t happen tomorrow, so bookmark the presentation for later. Advocate for it to be played at your next staff meeting. Use this post to help you articulate why it is necessary.
I am not kidding. You all need to listen to this, no matter how up on the topic of diversity you think you are, this is a must listen.
Finally, thanks to RUSA for organizing the recording of this extremely useful program. I am so proud to be a member of RUSA as they prove that they put their members first whether they can make it to the conference or not.
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