ALA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Implementation Working Group (EDI-IWG) Committee
ALA’s Task Force for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, co-chaired by Martin Garnar and Trevor A. Dawes, has begun its work to ensure committed and sustained attention to equity, inclusion, and diversity issues within ALA, in the profession, and in our communities. The Task Force was formed earlier in 2014 when members of the Black Caucus (BCALA) raised serious concerns about the scheduling of ALA’s 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, a state where the implementation of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been critically flawed.
After some discussion with several concerned members, the ALA and the affiliated Ethnic Caucuses issued a joint statement, available at http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blog/joint-statement-presidents-ethnic-caucuses-ala-aila-apala-bcala-cala-reforma-and-american. In the joint statement, we shared our concern about the reasons there was a call to change the conference location; affirmed our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion; and recognized that moving the conference at that point was not possible.
Task Force members have heard that there is still some concern being expressed about the fact that the American Library Association will hold its 2016 annual conference in Orlando, FL. We believe that moving forward with the conference in Orlando presents us with opportunities to engage with the communities in Florida in ways clearly not possible if we are not there. The Task Force will be developing plans for the association not only to address actions at the 2016 conference, but also to plan more generally for how we can be a more inclusive association and profession.
The Task Force members will be reaching out to ALA members and non-members in the coming months to gather information and feedback and we all hope you will share your thoughts. The first piece where we would appreciate your feedback is to the definitions of equity, diversity, and inclusion that will frame our work. The definitions are below. You are, of course, welcome to contact the task force members (http://www.ala.org/groups/node/4471) at any time if you have questions or concerns.
Preface to the definitions:
In framing the definitions of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for our work as a task force, wanting to change the world by and beyond the Annual 2016 Conference, and realizing we *may* fall short of that goal, we offer the following definitions for consideration. We have decided to maintain a fairly global perspective in these definitions, i.e. not to attempt an exhaustive list of descriptors or qualities of disenfranchised groups comprising ALA membership and by extension our various stakeholders and patron populations. We are striving for social justice for *All* - and with these definitions desire to achieve a larger rather than smaller common and inclusive denominator.
Equity is not the same as formal equality. Formal equality implies sameness. Equity, on the other hand, assumes difference and takes difference into account to ensure a fair process and, ultimately, a fair (or equitable) outcome. Equity recognizes that some groups were (and are) disadvantaged in accessing educational and employment opportunities and are, therefore, underrepresented or marginalized in many organizations and institutions. The effects of that exclusion often linger systemically within organizational policies, practices and procedures. Equity, therefore, means increasing diversity by ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups. .
(Adapted from University of British Columbia: http://diversity.ubc.ca/valuing-difference/equity-and-diversity-%E2%80%93-definitions-and-philosophy/)
The Task Force believes that everyone deserves equitable rights and opportunities. Our goal is to create a just and equitable Association, profession, and society where everyone has access to social power, resources, and physical and psychological safety.
(Adapted from ALA Office for Diversity “Strategic Planning for Diversity”: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/diversity/workplace/diversityplanning , and National Association of Social Workers: http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/cultural_competence.asp)
Diversity can be defined as the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different. Visible diversity is generally those things we cannot change and are external. However, diversity goes beyond this to what we call ‘invisible’ diversity. Invisible diversity includes those attributes that are not readily seen. So, when we recognize, value, and embrace diversity, we are recognizing, valuing, and embracing the uniqueness of each individual.
The Task Force has chosen to define “diversity” in all its complexity in order to recognize and honor the uniqueness of each ALA member, all members of our profession, and our very diverse communities. The Task Force also agrees with the National Education Association that, “While diversity itself is not a value-laden term, the way that people react to diversity is driven by values, attitudes, beliefs, and so on. Full acceptance of diversity is a major principle of social justice.”
(Adapted from National Education Association): http://www.nea.org/tools/diversity-toolkit-introduction.html
Inclusion means an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully; are valued for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives; have equal access to resources and opportunities; and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.
(Adapted from Society for Human Resources Management http://www.shrm.org/diversity and Hewlett Packard: http://www8.hp.com/us/en/hp-information/about-hp/diversity/meaning.html)
The Task Force believes that, to be inclusive, our association, profession, and society must recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every member of the community; involve and empower all members to participate and contribute; promote and sustain a sense of belonging; and value and practice respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of all members.
(Adapted from Ferris State University: http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/administration/president/DiversityOffice/Definitions.htm)
For those who couldn't attend the EDI-IWG Symposium on the Future of Libraries session at Midwinter, or for those who weren't able to share their ideas in these sessions, please use the comments to provide additional input on the following questions:
• How do we want to make the case that EDI issues are relevant to libraries?
• How do we embrace or promote EDI when our own incoming presidential administration seems to be openly against it?
• Is the profession moving towards a post-neutral stance?
• Do you think libraries are safe havens? What does that mean going forward for libraries?
This past year has been extraordinarily hard on communities of color and marginalized identities. Numerous shootings, sexual assaults, attacks in the legislation against the rights of GLBT communities and an election that continues to challenge our identity as a country. As librarians, we continue to advocate and fight for the communities we serve, but we need to recognize how our personal identities impact our work and our profession. This town hall was proposed as an opportunity to come together and start some healing within our organization. We will review the progress of initiatives within the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services and across the association, then we want to hear from you. The Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services invites everyone to join us in this space to reflect together.
Meeting Type: Committee Meeting
Interests: Diversity, Literacy, Outreach Services
Cost: Included with full conference registration.
Official Statement from the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Implementation Working Group - November 28, 2016by Melissa Cardenas-Dow on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 05:16 pm
The ALA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Implementation Working Group (EDI-IWG) expresses disappointment and dismay towards the ALA Washington Office press releases, “ALA offers expertise, resources to incoming administration and Congress” and “Libraries bolster opportunity — new briefs show how libraries support policy priorities of new Administration.” These statements imply uncritical cooperation with an administration that is already acting against ALA’s core values.
This body, first as a Task Force and now as an Implementation Working Group, has toiled for the past two years on infusing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into our profession and association. The press statements from two weeks ago, released just as we begin implementing the Task Force’s recommendations, contradict our work that is vital to the future of our organization. We object to the ALA’s encouragement of the policies of an administration that has demonstrated disrespect for our values and our profession. Our utmost priorities during this current time of rampant misinformation and propaganda should be honoring diversity and ensuring the ethical use and critical evaluation of information.
While we appreciate President Todaro’s remarks on the morning of November 21, 2016 regarding the egregious error in releasing a “draft” statement and subsequent withdrawal of the more explicitly supportive releases, we call for accountability from the ALA Washington Office for creating the original statements. We need reassurance that the authoring body is as invested in upholding our professional core values as we are. We do not want to be an association of empty lip service; we want to be an association of action, one that stands up for the rights of its members, its service communities, and its patrons. We call on ALA to dedicate material, time, and labor resources to make EDI a top priority for our organization, without pandering to those who would undermine our work. It is our duty and obligation to provide our members and patrons with the information they need to make sound, rational decisions within the association and the larger society.
The ALA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is pleased to present its final report that has been submitted to the ALA Executive Board. We welcome everyone to join us at the ALA Council/Executive Board/Membership Information Session at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando (Saturday 6/25/16, 3:00pm in room W224 of the Orange County Convention Center) where will give a brief update. By the time of this meeting, we will have formally presented the report to the ALA Executive Board.
This version of the report may not be completely accessible to those with visual impairments. We are working on making a more accessible version of the document available and will have that version posted as soon as possible. Until such time that the accessible version is available, please contact the Task Force co-chairs (Martin Garnar or Trevor A. Dawes) if you'd like a copy of the original MS-Word documents.