Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 2022 June 14

The following  post is one in a regular series on issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, compiled by Jay Weitz.

What libraries really are

“At a time when librarians across the country have faced baseless allegations and threats of criminal charges from parents who’ve accused them of providing pornography to children,” Mendell Morgan director of the El Progreso Memorial Library (OCLC Symbol: ELPML) in Uvalde,Texas, USA, “wanted to show the community what, in his view, a library really is. A refuge. A safe place. An escape.” So writes Mike Hixenbaugh, a senior investigative reporter for NBC News, based in Houston, Texas, in “Uvalde librarian thought about canceling storytime. Instead, she made it a refuge.” After initial hesitation, children’s librarian Martha Carreon joined Morgan in keeping the library open the day after the shootings. “Carreon thought she was there to comfort [the children]. In the end, it was the other way around.”

Fireproof Tale

Since it was first published in 1985, Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale has ended up on the American Library Association’s list of the books most often challenged in US libraries. Thanks to the intersection of several circumstances — including the leaked United States Supreme Court draft decision about abortion and the recent television adaptation of the novel — attention to the controversial book has ticked up again. Atwood and the publisher Penguin Random House have announced an “unburnable” edition “Printed and bound using fireproof materials … designed to protect this vital story and stand as a powerful symbol against censorship.” Proceeds from the auction of this unique resource will go to support PEN America, the nonprofit organization defending freedom of expression. Martin Pengelly tells the tale in “Atwood responds to book bans with ‘unburnable’ edition of Handmaid’s Tale” in The Guardian.

Accurate representation of Indigenous children

The Oregon Library Association (OLA) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism Committee presents the third episode of its new podcast, Overdue: Weeding Out Oppression in Libraries. The episode entitled “Making Space for Accurate Representation with Dr. Debbie Reese” features Dr. Reese, a Nambé Pueblo writer and scholar who has maintained her American Indians in Children’s Literature blog since 2006. She talks about her work providing “critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books,” the importance of accurate representation, and how library workers can support Indigenous children with collection development, displays, cataloging, and more. Committee co-chair Ericka Brunson-Rochette, Community Librarian at the Deschutes Public Library (OCLC Symbol: DCH) of Bend, Oregon, USA; and Kristen Curé of Oregon’s Springfield Public Library (OCLC Symbol: OXY) conducted the interview with Dr. Reese on 2022 April 1.

“The Silent History of Libraries”

On June 15, 2022, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern, the American Library Association’s Library History Round Table (LHRT) Holley Lecture and Research Forum presents a free virtual event that will feature two lectures on “The Silent History of Libraries.” Dr. Mary Carroll and Dr. Louise Curham of the School of Information and Communication Studies, and Dr. Holly Randell-Moon of the School of Indigenous Australian Studies, Charles Sturt University (OCLC Symbol: LK1) will speak on “Whiteness and Goodness: An Initial Exploration of the History of Australian Libraries and Collections as Forces of Social Control.” Dr. Melissa Smith and Dr. Beth Patin of the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University (OCLC Symbol: SU2) will present “Back on the Map: Using Reparative Storytelling to Un-silence the History of the Dulcina DeBerry Branch in Huntsville, Alabama.” Various incarnations of the Dulcina DeBerry Branch of what is now the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) (OCLC Symbol: MWD) existed between 1940 and 1968. Additionally, Dr. Kurt Hackemer, Professor of History, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of South Dakota (OCLC Symbol: USD), will deliver the Edward G. Holley Memorial Lecture on “Animated Cartoon Shorts and American Perceptions of World War II.” LHRT will also present three of its 2022 library history writing awards.

“Cultural Diversity Issue” of the IFLA Newsletter

Kazakhstan Human Library
Human Books” by Marina Poyarkova is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Courtesy of IFLA.

Marking May 21 as the UNESCO World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, the May 2022 issue of the IFLA Newsletter (2:5) has been dubbed “The Cultural Diversity Issue.” In her editorial, current International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) President Barbara Lison, Library Director of the Stadtbibliothek Bremen (OCLC Symbol: YYX), Germany, writes briefly about the role libraries play “not just in providing access to a wide range of content that broadens horizons and exposes people to new experiences, but also in proactively supporting learning, exchange, and meetings of different perspectives.” In honor of the fortieth anniversary of what is now the IFLA Section on Library Services to Multicultural Populations (MCULTP), the issue also features an interview with Section Chair Lan Gao of the Youth Services Department, Cleveland Public Library (OCLC Symbol: CLE), Ohio, USA, about the mission and history of the section. IFLA Policy and Research Officer Claire McGuire writes about “Measuring the Impact of Cultural Diversity on Development: how libraries can get involved.” There is also a report from Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University Library (OCLC Symbol: KZNUL) about its “human library” program, which intends to promote understanding so as to diminish prejudice and discrimination. Among the underrepresented minorities involved since the program began in 2016 have been “People with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as young women in science.”

Black women’s voices in primary sources

Choice, the publishing unit of ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), will present a free webinar “Strategies for Uncovering Black Women’s Voices in Primary Sources” on June 16, 2022, 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Dr. Ashley D. Farmer, Associate Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin (OCLC Symbol: IXA) will speak about the challenges of “excavating the archives of Black women intellectuals” and strategies involved in discovering their work in primary source databases (including those of the webinar’s sponsor, ProQuest, and other sources).

Services for autistic students

A free Infopeople webinar from Project ENABLE, “Library Service for All: Current Trends in Library Programs and Services for Autistic Children and Teens,” will be presented on June 21 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Discussion will focus on “what autism is through the lens of neurodiversity, and how characteristics of autism may manifest in the library environment.” Library practices have been evolving along with changes in technology, to better serve autistic students. Dr. Amelia Anderson, an assistant professor of library science at Old Dominion University (OCLC Symbol: VOD) in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, and Sue Kowalski, the middle school librarian at Pine Grove Middle School (OCLC Symbol: PG#) in East Syracuse, New York, USA, will be the presenters.

Intellectual freedom and social justice

ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) hosts a free symposium “Where Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice Meet: A Call to Action” from noon to 4:00 p.m. Eastern on July 12 and 13. On the first day, the balance between the core values of social justice and intellectual freedom as applied to library policies, community values, “neutrality,” and current challenges will be discussed. Empowering participants to take action, develop policies, and build coalitions and consensus will be the focus of day two. A special edition of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy devoted to “Social Justice and Intellectual Freedom: Working within a Divided Nation” will collect papers on the symposium theme.