Thursday, October 6, 2022

Final Report of the ALA Working Group on Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice: Pass it On

Some of you might have seen the teaser from NoveList that Robin and I are bringing our training to their new Learn With NoveList platform beginning on 10/26. If not, click here for that teaser. 

I cannot tell you a lot yet, but I can promise you is that this will be the most affordable way to get the full Actively Anti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers training from us, both on your own time and LIVE in person with multiple live options. Both Robin and I are very happy with the course. It is now in the hands of some beta testers. More on that soon including pricing and group rates once NoveList gets that marketing material to us.

But something I just added to the course at the last minute and wanted to make sure I posted here as well is the official report to the ALA Executive Board from the ALA Working Group on Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice, a report that demands that the ALA Executive Board distance itself from the language of neutrality and focus instead on the humanity of our users.

For some background on this working group, click here for my ALA Annual report from the final day of the conference. Please scroll to the bottom for the detailed notes about a program hosted by this working group-- it was at the end of the day.

That program promised that the working group would be delivering a final report to the ALA Executive Board. I confirmed with Martin Garnar, one of the co-chairs, that this happened in at their July meeting.

From my email conversation with Garnar:

The report to the executive board is available on their documents page. I presented at the July meeting and my understanding was that the board was going to discuss the recommendations and potential next steps at their fall meeting, which should be taking place next month. They did form a small group to carry the discussion forward, so we'll see what happens.

Click here to read the full report. It is strong and clearly asks ALA to take real action and stop sleeping on this important issue. While the report does a good job explaining everything the working group did, but I wanted to pull out their conclusions for those of you who will never click through:

The ALA's core values are anything but neutral. The positions and policy statements in the ALA Policy Manual spell out specific ethical commitments demanding that sides be taken in
contentious situations. It is important to be explicit about our beliefs and how they inform our
work. As library workers, we should:
  • advance and fully implement equity, diversity, inclusion, justice, and belonging in hiring, mentoring, supporting, and promoting library staff; and advocate for equity, diversity, inclusion, justice, and belonging in relationships with library vendors;
  • promote equitable access to information, providing more assistance to those who need it;
  • provide a diversity of perspectives in our collections and resources highlighting communities that have historically been underrepresented or excluded;
  • listen actively to recommendations of individuals from marginalized groups; ensure and advance equity in providing access to facilities, resources, and services;
  • educate ourselves and our users about the critical evaluation of information and the structures in which it is created; and
  • champion social justice, taking action to combat discrimination and systemic racism.
To succeed in these goals we propose adopting an approach based on these frameworks that meets the goal of building trust with our communities rather than using neutrality as our guiding value. In doing so libraries and library workers will be prioritizing the defense and support of thehumanity of our users.

Please read the entire report. I will be including it EVERY time I present my Actively Anti-Racist Services to Leisure Readers program from now until the ALA Executive Board takes further action. I hope you spread the work about this report as well. The more it gets out there, the more pressure placed on ALA to respond.

Again, pull report can be accessed here.

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