Let me begin this post by saying I’ve never thought of myself of as a good writer, but I’m a pretty good Jeli.  So, this blog post will not do my experience much justice. If you want to hear the dramatic effect, please find me and spark a conversation.  Just imagine if you had the option to attend the county fair, state fair or Disney World. Which one would you attend? Sure they all would give you some kind of satisfaction and we assume that the larger the fair the bigger the impact would be. Well, that is exactly what it is like attending the IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility in Libraries) conference. I’ve attended this conference since its inception and this year the conference skipped Disney World and went straight to the Islands of Adventures. The conference was held at the Ohio State University. Yes, they say “the Ohio State” (insert side eye here). Nevertheless,  they have a reason to call it that all they want. That campus is amazing. It’s like a mini Kernersville with students in red. And what else has red? Target! There is a Target on campus and pretty much anything thing else you can think of.  The conference was held in their massive Ohio Union.  Just to put things into perspective, imagine about six Benson Halls combined together.

When I walked into the Griffin Ballroom for breakfast, they were playing Michael Jackson’s Beat It. That as enough to get me going in the morning.  I started my morning meeting eating breakfast with some new faces and chatting with a familiar face, April Hathcock. The opening keynote speaker was Kimberlé Crenshaw. I was excited to hear her talk on intersectionality especially since our very own Chris Burris had featured her TED talk in his summer time syllabus discussion this summer. This gave me confirmation that ZSR’s D&I Committee was on the right track. It felt good. The IDEAL conference is a very impactful conference that covers many aspects of diversity, inclusion and equity, so it was very hard to decide which session to attend. Throughout my two day adventure, I attended sessions that included “Where are the Technical Services Librarians of color?”, “Exploring Racial Equity”, and “Talk about it and Be about it” just to name a few. One session that I found myself surprising engaged in was “Advancing Intersectionality: Including Mixed-Race Perspectives Within Campus Libraries”.  I always try to explore perspectives that I have not thought about or previously pursued. This session was led by three librarians of color who identified themselves as mixed race or bi-racial. As most of us know, race and gender is the first thing we notice when we see a person and we make a note to ourselves what they are before they even tell us. When it comes to mixed race and/or bi-racial individuals they many not want to identify as one or another. This session made you check yourself because when you look at some individuals, for example one of the librarians leading the session, you may have thought she was a white woman of European decent when in fact she identified as bi-racial. I was really intrigued when we starting talking about finding and researching the heritage of mixed raced families. This really hit home for me considering my own discussion in our D&I’s summer time syllabus. I learned about race mixing with native peoples and policies that directly affect their families. We also discussed LC classifications for identifying mixed raced families and bi-racial families and how difficult and racist the process is. It is was heartbreaking to hear some of the stories.  I had not thought about how I would identify someone and how another individual from a different state, culture, or race may identify the same person or family when cataloging. Therefore the tags used in different databases will be different. One database may identify a person or family as bi-racial, another maybe multi-racial, and another may be mixed race.  This makes it hard for families to trace their heritage. I found this session to be very interesting and enlightening. Everyone in the room was able to relate to this topic in some way because we either identified as as mixed race, had a mixed race family member, or have a mixed race friend. The slides for this presentation can be found here.

At the end of day one of the conference, there was a welcome reception and open house at the Thompson Library. As you enter the library, the entry opens up to a beautiful welcoming foyer and stair way. You are able to look up the many levels of stacks through the glass walls.  We proceeded to the Buckeye Reading Room where we had a “Not So Silent, Loud Party”.  It included a DJ equipped with wireless headphones with three types of music playing. We were able to listen to some tunes while enjoying tasty finger foods and drinks. I loved all of the words over the floor of the reading room.

I proceed upstairs to another level to find what appeared to be the opening of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It was my kind of party! The decor was fabulous and whimsical. There was an abundance of candies and other sweets.

On the 10th floor of the library, they had a jazz trio playing with more snacks, finger foods and drinks. I met a lot of nice people from all over the U.S and Canada. It was such a great environment for such a great cause. We were all there to learn, share knowledge and engage. This is a conference that I think everyone should attend at least once. It has gotten bigger and better every year. This has been the best conference I have ever attended and I can’t wait until the next one. I have so many ideas for our own Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and hope to use what I’ve learned to inspire and engage others.