My NCLA experience started off on a high note, attending the Diversity Delineated, Inclusion Integrated session with Molly Keener, Chris Burris, Monesha Staton-Fluker. Their very informative presentation on the history and development of our Diversity and Inclusion Committee (now Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee) was a trip down memory lane, as well as serving as a reminder of how much more needs to be done. I was proud to be in the room as they discussed the programming developed over the last few years. Their presentation was very well received and Gerald Holmes, Chair of the Diversity Committee at UNCG found their work inspiring. Since he served as a mentor for the committee, that is very complimentary indeed! Good work to you all!
The Welcome and Opening Keynote: with Melanie Huggins was similarly inspiring. Her presentation, “Library as Studio” documented the changes to the spaces in Richland County Libraries in South Carolina. She talked of their Progress documented as they renovate spaces and the development of their Strategic direction and brand promises.
Customer journey mapping and experience mapping was core to the process. Domains were identified to provide specificity to specific branches. Instead of desiring to do all things for all patrons in all locations, each branch is specialized to meet a specific need in the community. This allows them to focus attention like a culinary arts branch with a complete kitchen in one location, and an art focused branch to support creation in another. All libraries have common services like a space to gather and contemplate, a hangout, garden, etc. In addition to changes in the physical spaces, they are linking deeply with other cultural institutions to provide space to problem solve about the bigger issues in their communities, like poverty, joblessness, and racism. She was a very exciting and engaging speaker! It struck me that she probably doesn’t recognize any problem in the community as one that the library can’t help solve.
I also had the pleasure to see current ALA president Wanda K. Brown and State Librarian of North Carolina Timothy Owens speak on “The Space to Guide Community and Professional Growth”. Each had a chance to discuss their own perspectives on how libraries can adapt to meet changing needs, and the importance of increasing diversity in the profession.
I attended the Smithsonian Libraries: Honoring the Past; Embracing the Future with Barbara Ferry, who shared the current initiatives of the Smithsonian Libraries, and exciting partnerships that they’ve been establishing to engage with researchers and provide access to the treasure trove of information they have in their vaults. She highlighted research tools, collections, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which also has a very active instagram account!
Amy Harris-Houk and Jenny Dale of UNC-G Libraries led a session entitled “With Friends Like These…: The Role of Critical Friends in Professional Development.” Their session focused on the importance of developing “critical friends,” which they defined not as those who are crucial, but actually those who will critique your professional development. They included tips on crafting a “critical friendposal” and how to provide and receive important feedback. Their example reminded me of our mentoring program in ZSR, with a more rigid structure, and sharper focus. I think with such a “friend” we all might be more certain to make our self-directed professional development goals!
Then, fresh from NCLA, I had the opportunity to travel for a quick trip to Chicago to attend two day long meetings. The first, the HathiTrust Member Meeting, was an informative meeting filled with great information about the size, budget, use and future of direction of HathiTrust. They also discussed progress on the Strategic Directions. Under consideration is to invite the addition of content from those partners who may not be able to pay to become partners in the collaborative. They recognized that offering opportunities to those with more limited funds would increase the diversity of collections. The idea is just now being considered, and no formal vote on this inclusion or a process was defined. The keynote speaker was Neela Banerjee, Senior Correspondent from Inside Climate News. Her talk, Mapping the American Anomaly: How Our Investigative Journalism has used Archives to Document Climate Denialism in the United States discussed how she used documents she found in HathiTrust to uncover the Exxon corporation’s climate change denialism and how their campaign sowed the seeds that have taken root in some segments of the American psyche. A powerful testimonial.
Next up was the ACRL-SPOS meeting (Strategic Planning and Orientation Session) for new and existing board members to orient us to ACRL governance and make plans for the next year. In July, my term as the Vice-Chair for ACRL’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee started, and we spent a great deal of the meeting discussing how we might position ACRL to provide greater leadership on the issue of increasing diversity in libraries, as well as how we might create a more welcoming and inclusive ACRL organization.
There is a lot going on in libraries close by and around the nation! Especially around diversity, equity, and social justice issues!