Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Librarian of Congress News

Late last year, the long-time Librarian of Congress announced his retirement. SDLA, along with many other state library associations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to nominate a degreed librarian for the position. Today comes the announcement that President Obama listened to us and has nominated Dr. Carla Hayden to the post. Dr. Hayden has been a librarian at the Chicago Public Library and, most recently, has been the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to hold the role of Librarian of Congress and the first African American to hold the post. Check out this video from President Obama's Facebook page introducing Dr. Hayden.

The letter sent to President Obama was also sent to our senators as the Senate will have to confirm the Dr. Hayden. I heard from a staff member of one of our senators that they are keeping our recommendations in mind but had not yet heard a nomination. Hopefully, our Senators will support this nomination.

Resolution on Replacing the Library of Congress Subject Heading "Illegal Aliens" with "Undocumented Immigrants"

This resolution came about because some librarians who help those our subject headings currently call illegal aliens recognize that those words can be offensive. In many other subject heading lists the term has already been changed from "illegal aliens" to "undocumented immigrants". There was discussion in Council about whether this resolution was appropriate for us and encouraged those who brought it to pursue the appropriate channels through the Library of Congress first. The person who introduced the measure did so on behalf of some of the librarians that she represents and didn't have all the facts the first time. When she came back to us and explained that the Library of Congress had turned the request down because they were using the terms in the criminal code, Council agreed to hear the resolution again. We did pass it knowing that official channels had been tried already. We do feel that the language "illegal aliens" is offensive and encourage LC to change the heading. Here is the resolution.

Resolution Concerning Accessibility of ALA Conferences and Meetings for People with Disabilities

ALA conferences are great places to connect with other librarians from around the country and the world. For those with disabilities; however, ALA conferences can be troublesome. Stories abound about sessions that are blocks or miles apart without enough transportation, especially transportation for those in wheelchairs or other mobile devices. Having spent 5 weeks on a knee walker myself almost two years ago, I can't imagine having to negotiate ALA in such a manner. There was even a story about a speaker at a previous conference who indicated they needed a podium and mike that was wheelchair accessible and got to their speaking venue to discover several steps (and no ramp) up to the speakers' platform and no accommodations had been made. ALA councilors discussed this issue and the best way for council to get some action taken through several meetings. We finally came up with a resolution that establishes a Conference Accessibility Task Force with several goals the task force needs to accomplish. This is a rather important resolution so I will include more information in this post that I have in the others.

You can go to the resolution (linked here) to see all the whereas clauses but I am including the resolved clause here:

Resolved, that the American Library Association, on behalf of its members:

Establish and charge a Conference Accessibility Task Force to:

1.    Collect data from ALA Members and conference attendees with disabilities;
2.    Establish methods for reviewing and addressing accessibility grievances;
3.    Draft guidelines for review of contracts to ensure ADA and WCAG            compliance;
4.    Research best practices for accessibility training and makes a                     recommendation for implementation;
5.    Report progress to Council during the ALA Annual Conference 2016 and ALA Midwinter 2017 and;

6.    Make a final report to Council with recommendations during ALA Annual   Conference 2017 in Chicago

This task force has been created and will begin work soon if they haven't already.

Resolution supporting the 2015 Advocacy Implementation Plan

Council also passed a resolution to support the Advocacy Plan that is part of ALA's Strategic Directions document. The resolution points out some of the advantages of ALA's Advocacy Plan and encourages all chapters to use the plan to their own benefit. I will write more on this plan later as SDLA is itself writing advocacy into our strategic plan and it is nice to know that we don't have to reinvent the wheel. See the resolution here.

Resolution Against Islamophobia

Council passed a resolution against Islamophobia. This resolution came about as a result of an issue where a patron insulted a Muslim librarian. The resolution reaffirms our profession's belief that all people should receive equal assistance from the library no matter what they believe. See the resolution here.