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Wanda @ ALA

As President of the Black Caucus of ALA, Friday was filled with orientation and executive meetings. During board orientation I encouraged new members to; take personal responsibility, maintain trust and credibility, remain true to their convictions, know what their assignments are, seek clear communication, be reliable and competent, take initiative, point out challenges and then suggest ways to meet them. Mutual trust and respect is built upon good communication and remains key to effective board member service. During our executive board meeting I was pleased to announce that several of my presidential platforms have come to fruition. Necessary steps are in place for hiring an organizational assistant, both web and newsletter oversight committees have been created, a survey of BCALA members is underway, guidelines have been created to govern board elections and committee appointments, a review of our constitution and bylaws has been scheduled, the site of our 2010 conference has been confirmed and lastly the proceedings from my townhall meeting will be instrumental in devising BCALA strategic priorities. Programs on Sunday and Monday are all that remain, as my term as President ends with this conference.

You may remember that back around 2004 I graduated from the Association of Research Libraries Leadership and Career Development Program. Annual marked the 10th anniversary of this program. In this years’ closing program each graduate created a poster showcasing details of their research project. During the program OCLC relayed details concerning their newly created minority fellowships. This long overdue program is their attempt to change the face of OCLC so it reflects more the image of America and its’ customers.

Saturday for BCALA began with an early morning President’s program. We were all afraid the 8 a.m. start time would render many empty seats. So we were pleasantly surprised when our program topic “The Black Male Librarian: an Endangered Species” drew an overflowing standing room only crowd. Panelists detailed alarming statistics that indicated a downward slump of African American males entering the profession . Of the 5200 current African American librarians, only 570 are males. Possible recruitment strategies were offered by the five panelist. When we look at the complete picture surrounding African American males entering college, we see these numbers have also decreased significantly. So the problem is actually more complex. Representatives from NCCU LIS program boasted encouraging numbers and IMLS funded grants will make it financially possible to address this concern if we can step up our recruitment efforts to attract minorities both male or female to our profession. I am particularly interested in recruitment so I look forward to working with UNC- Greensboro Librarians on their IMLS grant funded project to recruit minorities.

Speakers Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham coeditors of the African American National Biography published by Oxford University Press, shared stories of African American contributions to American society that renewed my pride of my race and for my profession. Their stories dispelled rumors that African Americans have little or no significant history. I was equally proud of Librarianship for the roles we as Librarians have played in documenting, creating and sharing such a biography.

More later..