Reflections and ALA Updates from Chapter Councilor and iSchool Instructor Patty Wong

As one can imagine, the tenor of the conference was both somber in light of the recent shootings at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, but hopeful in terms of the future and the roles we can and should take part in providing a better world for our communities. The victims and the families were acknowledged in a memorial tribute. One third of the victims were of Puerto Rican origin – many were under the age of 25.

In response to the tragic events in Orlando, ALA passed the Resolution Calling Upon Libraries to Build More Inclusive Communities, which read: “That the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members:

  1. Urges libraries, librarians, and library workers to cultivate more inclusive communities by actively engaging their communities to defuse and deescalate a culture of violence based on hatred, discrimination, and bigotry;
  2. Stands with the LGBTQ*, Latinx, and diverse communities in confronting hate, discrimination, and bias while recognizing that they are impacted by violence at a much higher rate than the rest of society; and
  3. Affirms that violence of this kind has no place in a civil society.”

Another resolution detailed cataloging processes, including and officially stated as, Resolution in Support of the Professional Cataloging Processes and Determinations of the Library of Congress: “That the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members: Resolved, That the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members: Reaffirms its unequivocal support for the Library of Congress’ (Library) apolitical, professional determination to cease use prospectively of the subject headings “Illegal aliens” as articulated in its formal Resolution of January 12, 2016, and here also endorses the Library’s specific March 2016 proposal to retire both that term and the subject heading “Aliens” as it relates to non-extraterrestrials.

Incoming President Julie Todaro appointed a working group to address chapter engagement and communication to ensure quality communication, inclusive roles and proper consultation between ALA and the Chapters.

A resolution involving school libraries entitled, Resolution on Equity for All in School Libraries, and amended to read: “That the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members:

  1. Endorses the idea that every student has access to a well-funded, effective school library program;
  2. Advocates for equitable access to effective school library programs with a certified school librarian, personalized learning environments, and equitable access to resources;
  3. Works with ALA research committees to document the impact on students of minorities, low-income, and rural communities when cutting resources a well-funded, effective school library programs, particularly in minority and rural communities (amended section);
  4. Advocates for equitable access to well-curated, high-quality, and accessible electronic resources;
  5. Encourages state departments of education and coalition partners to establish and maintain funding of digital databases and shared resources to provide greater equity of access in all states and regions; and
  6. Continues to encourage school librarians to apply for Innovative Approaches to Literacy grants.”

During the council meeting, ALA recorded memorials to ALA leaders, made tributes honoring and thanking several libraries and librarians for their tireless work in international, university and school libraries.

Patty Wong has been asked to co-chair ALA President Julie Todaro’s Initiative devoted to public libraries (with Valerie Gross). The focus will align with how Libraries and Librarians Transform with the ideas on value and advocacy, leadership and 21st century librarianship.

Resolutions on gun violence affecting libraries, library workers and library patrons and creation of a deaf culture digital library were deferred until the 2017 ALA Mid-Winter meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.