I have enjoyed reading everyone’s ALA posts, and do not wish to be repetitive about some of the same speakers I watched, so I will share a brief synopsis of my unique perspective and takeaways. The ALA Annual Virtual Conference’s featured speaker series on big societal and public health issues was particularly enlightening for me to see the “forest from the trees,” as I prepare for the fall semester.
It was a true delight to see Leana Wen, MD, a CNN Health Analyst, as a featured speaker at the ALA Virtual Conference talk about the books that inspired her during medical school and residency, particularly The Lost Art of Healing. I am inspired by Dr. Wen’s quote as I prepare to teach science information literacy in the coming semester:
“Public health saved your life today- you just don’t know it.”
Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Humanities Medal, was invited to speak at the ALA President’s Program as the critically-acclaimed author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.
She posed the following poignant questions at the conclusion of her eloquent presentation on the arbitrary factors used as a dominant birthright to protect superiority at all costs and how groups of human beings are subordinated regardless of their actions, or what anthropologists call a “caste” system of our time:
“Will [our country] follow the path of darkness and division? … Or will we rise to what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called ‘the heights of the majestic’ and live up to its creed: [to] become and defend a true democracy with liberty and justice for every single one of us?… [not only for the sake of future generations] but for [our] species and planet itself.”
Through these esteemed authors’ discussions at the ALA Annual Virtual Conference, I remembered my philosophy of librarianship statement about the role of libraries and librarians in democracy, which I wrote in graduate school. Isabel Wilkerson’s and Dr. Leana Wen’s books as well as The Lost Art of Healing are on my TBR list.
I did participate in the ACRL Science & Technology Section’s (STS) virtual membership meeting during ALA Annual in my role as outgoing Member-at-Large. As a 2004-2008 member of the STS Council, which originally approved the creation of the STS Member-at-Large position, my career came full circle when I was elected Member-at-Large in 2019. During my two-year term on the STS Executive Committee and Council, we strengthened our Section’s commitment to declared core values of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) by implementing inclusive leadership training for 40+ STS officers and STS committee/task force co-chairs, mobilized members’ input on the ACRL STS Information Literacy Framework companion document, and transformed the official STS Signal newsletter into an open access (CC BY 4.0) ACRL publication. I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent over 1,100 ACRL STS members and complete worthwhile work with colleagues to move our profession forward.