Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 2022 April 5

The following post is the first of what will be a regular series on issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, compiled by Jay Weitz.

National Deaf History Month, 2022 March 13 through April 15

The deaf community and libraries have an intertwined and mutually assistive history.  The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was founded in 1880, just four years after the American Library Association in 1876.  The United States Congress established the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, which also serves the deaf-blind, as part of the Library of Congress in 1931.  The first known official proclamation of deaf awareness was by the Governor of Colorado in 1972, who declared Deaf Awareness Week at the urging of the Colorado Association of the Deaf.  Iowa followed the next year.  In 1974, Ida Mapes and Alice L. Hagemeyer of the District of Columbia Public Library (OCLC Symbol:  DWP) began to teach sign language to library staff, leading to a larger deaf cultural event.  Later that year, the District of Columbia Government Office made the first full week of December Deaf Awareness Week to honor Laurent Clerc (born December 26, 1785) and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (born December 10, 1787), two of the founders in 1817 of what is now the American School for the Deaf (OCLC Symbol:  CTASC), the first such permanent educational institution in the United States.  In 1996, the NAD proposed to rename Deaf Awareness Week after Clerc and Gallaudet and to establish an annual Deaf History Month.  National Deaf History Month was first commemorated in 1997.  Thanks to the work of Alice L. Hagemeyer, ALA and NAD jointly announced the month in 2006.  The scheduling from March 13 to April 15 each year was intended to encompass three important dates in deaf history in the United States.

  • March 13, 1988, marked the date on which the first deaf president in the 124-year history of Gallaudet University (OCLC Symbol:  GQG) in Washington, D.C., was selected.  Dr. Irving King Jordan became the eighth president of Gallaudet after a weeklong student protest dubbed Deaf President Now.  Ironically, Jordan announced in September 2005 that he intended to retire by the end of 2006, at which time the naming of his successor launched its own Unity for Gallaudet protest.
  • April 8, 1864 was the day on which Abraham Lincoln signed the charter that authorized the board of directors of what was then called the Columbia Institution and is now Gallaudet University to bestow degrees on deaf students.  It is the only institution of higher education in the world devoted specifically to the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • April 15, 1817, marked the founding of the American School for the Deaf.

In 1979, Library and Information Services for the American Deaf Community was established as part of ALA’s Association of Specialized, Government, and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA).  On September1, 2020, however, the various functions of ASGCLA were dispersed to various other parts of ALA upon the dissolution of the division.  At that time, Bridging Deaf Cultures at Your Library became an ALA Interest Group within the Office of Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS).

National Arab American Heritage Month, April 2022

April marks National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM), as first proclaimed by the United States Department of State on April 1, 2021, and endorsed by President Joe Biden on April 19 of that year.  The Fogler Library of the University of Maine (OCLC Symbol:  MEU) maintains an extensive LibGuide of “Arab American Heritage Month Resources” that includes books, documents, videos, media, articles, primary sources, and other resources.

Ramadan 2022

Ramadan is the Arabic name for the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is considered one of the most sacred Islamic months. In 2022, the tentative expectation is that Ramadan will begin on April 2 and end on May 2, but the actual dates depend upon the sighting of the moon. Muslims across the world observe a fast from dawn through dusk each day of Ramadan. Fasting (Sawm) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The pillars of prayer (Salah) and charity (Zakat) are also encouraged during Ramadan, as are patience, kindness, forgiveness, and contemplation.

“Break the Bias” Issue of the “IFLA Newsletter”

Photo by Pavlos Vaenas on Unsplash
Photo by Pavlos Vaenas on Unsplash

The theme of the March 2022 (2:3) issue of the “IFLA Newsletter” is “Break The Bias,” inspired by the March 8, 2022 International Women’s Day theme, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” There are stories about libraries fighting discrimination from Argentina (“Community library’s women’s circle educates to reduce gender-based violence”) to Kazakhstan (“Library raises awareness and fosters research enabling gender balance and equality”) to Tunisia (“Tunisian library’s digital skills course promotes opportunities for women”) to Spain (“Library supports university to mainstream gender equality and empowerment of women”) to Sri Lanka (“National library facilitates skills development programme to help citizens acquire skills for employment”), as well as about “Libraries and the 2022 International Women’s Day.” Additionally, there are articles about the “IFLA Indigenous Matters Section and the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages” and “Upholding Cultural and Linguistic Diversity:  Reflections on International Mother Language Day,” which was on February 21.

Concordia University Library Research Forum 2022

Concordia University (OCLC Symbol:  0LC) in Montréal, Québec, Canada, will present its 2022 Library Research Forum virtually on April 26 and 27, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern each day.  The Keynote Plenary Session on April 26, 1:10-2:10 p.m. Eastern is “Racial capitalism and knowledge production in LIS:  A conversation with David James Hudson, moderated by Désirée Rochat.  Hudson, Learning and Curriculum Support Librarian at the University of Guelph (OCLC Symbol:  U3G), studies “race, racism, and anti-racism, especially with the ways in which these phenomena have come to be conceptualized (both historically and in the present day) and the interests such conceptualizations have served.  He explores such questions with particular attention to contexts of library and information work, Black diasporic life, colonialism, and capitalism.” Dr. Rochat is Concordia Library’s 2021-2022 Researcher-in-Residence who ” aims to document, theorize and transmit (hi)stories of Black diasporic communities’ activism.”  The full program includes sessions on such topics as “Critiquing LIS Accounts of Islamophobia,” investigations of statements on bias in libraries and archives, “Reparative Description,” and “Librarianship and Disability at the Performative Turn.”  Registration is free and open.

Discussing Race in Library Storytimes

Director of Community Engagement and Outreach at the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Library (OCLC Symbol:  EXR), Jessica Anne Bratt says, “Diversity of identities should be a celebration, not a burden.”  Named a 2016 “Library Journal” Mover and Shaker, she writes about fostering inclusion and community representation through library programming in her new ALA Editions book, “Let’s Talk About Race in Storytimes.”  In a brief interview with ALA’s Rob Christopher, Bratt explains that she “wanted to lay the groundwork on how other people could talk about race in a respectful way, especially when dealing with diverse communities.”  Videos of several of her storytime sessions, her 2020 interview on WNYC’s “The Takeaway,” and related resources are available on the Grand Rapids Public Library website.