Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 2022 October 4

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

IMLS grants to Indigenous organizations

In August 2022, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced grants totaling over $5.2 million as part of three programs that foster library services and cultural preservation for Indigenous communities. Native American Library Services Basic Grants have been given to 117 Indian Tribes, Alaska Native villages, and other organizations in support of core library services and existing operations. Native American Library Services Basic Grants went to 23 Tribes in eleven states for the revitalization of language and culture. Native Hawaiian Library Services Grants were awarded to six groups to implement new or expand existing library services. IMLS Director Crosby Kemper stressed that “The importance of cultural learning is essential in all communities, but it is critical to embrace and honor the precious and unique heritage of Native communities. These Native American and Native Hawaiian grants expand and enhance literacy programs, language preservation, community storytelling, and digital access.”

“Stand Up Against Book Challenges”

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) offers “Stand Up Against Book Challenges,” advice for library workers who are facing book bans, want to be prepared for the possibility, or hope to help. The blog post is in keeping with the ALSC competency that “Ensures that all children and their families have full access to library materials, resources, and services as prescribed by the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations.”

School librarian puts students first

Martha Hickson, a librarian at North Hunterdon High School (OCLC Symbol: LI7), Annandale, New Jersey, and a 2020 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Intellectual Freedom Award, talks to The Christian Science Monitor in “‘I put the students first’: A public school librarian on book bans.” She says, “My duty to students is essentially to enable them to go out into the world to be effective and discerning users of information, and lifelong learners.” She sees her duty to parents “to first listen, understand what the concern is, and then to help the parent understand how and why the book is in the library, and then to remind the parent that library materials are there for voluntary inquiry.” Hickson points out that “the language and the tactics of the book banners are so outrageous, that grabs eyes and attention,” which means that the voices of parents and librarians who defend the right to read often get left out of the news coverage.

“Librarianship as Resistance”

In American Libraries, ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall urges librarians, currently on the front lines of the censorship wars, “to not just be the resistance but to grow it.” In her essay “Librarianship as Resistance: Defying the silence and erasure of censorship,” Hall briefly traces the decades-long fight ALA has waged for intellectual freedom leading up to the current “Unite Against Book Bans” campaign.

Black cultural heritage

Dorothy Berry, Digital Curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (OCLC Symbol: SMI), will present the inaugural program in the “Inclusive Collections, Inclusive Libraries” series from Research Libraries UK (OCLC Symbol: UKRLU) On October 18, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, Berry will speak about “expanding access and reimagining descriptive possibilities” in “Surfacing History: Case Studies in Digital Discovery of African American Cultural Heritage.” The free and open talk will concentrate on projects aimed at increasing access to Black cultural heritage materials at predominately white institutions.

IMLS and WebJunction partnerships

Three new Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant projects will count OCLC’s WebJunction as a partner in connecting libraries and communities. With Libraries Count: Support Diverse Young Children and their Families in Math, East Tennessee State University (OCLC Symbol: TET) and the University of Alabama (OCLC Symbol: ALG) will collaborate on a program aimed at assisting families and libraries in rural settings. Making summer library programs more inclusive and equitable is the goal of Building Equity-Based Summers Through Libraries and Communities, a collaboration between the California Library Association and the National Summer Learning Association. Developing play-based activities to help children and teens combat misinformation and disinformation is the goal of Digital Playful Exploratory Resources to Combat Mis/disinformation, in which the University of Washington Information School (OCLC Symbol: WAW), Seattle Public Library (OCLC Symbol: UOK), San Diego Public Library (OCLC Symbol: JTB), and various rural libraries in Colorado and Washington are involved.

Responding to challenges

In the September 2022 issue of Computers in Libraries (Volume 42, Issue 7, pages 32-36), Carolyn Foote offers “10 Tips for Responding to Book Challenges in Schools.” The Texas group that Foote co-founded in 2021, FReadom Fighters, supports librarians, teachers, students, and authors in defending free access to inclusive library materials. Foote recommends ways to prepare for challenges, means to deal with them, and resources to consult. She also emphasizes the need for librarians to practice self-care in these stressful circumstances.

Idaho read-in

Support for the library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, has taken the form of a read-in outside of Boundary County Library (OCLC Symbol: ZVN). CNN’s Nick Watt reports “Conservatives join liberals in ‘quiet and polite’ Idaho protest to protect their library from book-banners,” countering demands that more than 400 books be banned from the shelves. As it happens, not a single one of those books is in the Boundary County Library collection. But that did not prevent the library director from being pressured to resign or the trustees from having to face a recall.

Banning book bans

In Coloradoan, Bethany Osborn writes “Wellington Board of Trustees takes action against book bans in the town’s public library” The Colorado town’s governing board voted on September 13 to disallow any book bans for Wellington Public Library (OCLC Symbol: RJS). The resolution states that the library’s mission is “to serve and reflect every member of our community in an enlightened, democratic, and unified approach,” further saying that the board is not allowed to “censor, suppress, remove, monitor or place age restrictions on ideas or information in our public library.”

“FAIFE: Intellectual Freedom”

Commemorating the twenty-fifth birthday of the IFLA Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) and the twentieth anniversary of the IFLA Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom, the October 2022 special issue of the IFLA Journal (Volume 48, Number 3) is devoted entirely to intellectual freedom. Alex Byrne, the first chair of FAIFE and later president of IFLA, writes “The articles in this special issue demonstrate that the IFLA Statement continues to be a powerful expression of the library community’s commitment to intellectual freedom. The Statement continues to offer moral force and guidance to library associations, institutions and individual professionals. It is truly a declaration for all seasons.”