ALA Council

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full comments re: CD#55

  • 1.  full comments re: CD#55

    Posted Jun 29, 2021 12:25 PM
    Hello Councilors,

    Thank you for today's lively and insightful discussion. In favor of completeness, and to honor the values I strive to bring to my work no matter how difficult, please find pasted below my complete comments regarding CD#55. The italicized portion is what went unspoken.

    All best, and take good care--
    Hannah, MN Chapter Councilor

    I am not a cataloger, but I am moving this resolution because this issue has deeper implications. And although I am a member of the ALA's Policy Corps, I am moving this resolution entirely as the Minnesota Chapter Councilor. Minnesota-home of Sanford Berman-has a rich tradition of engaging in cataloging issues as a means of defending human rights. With that, two of this resolution's authors are Minnesotans Tina Gross and Violet Fox, with some non-Minnesota zest coming from Jill Baron of Dartmouth College. Tina, Violet, and Jill are subject matter experts who bring deep knowledge, care, and courage to their work. Today, I can think of no clearer way for Council to commend their persistence than by giving this resolution the same thorough, thoughtful consideration that they routinely demonstrate.

    To be clear: This resolution is not about changing any specific subject headings. That is a separate conversation for Council Document #56. There are three values at this resolution's heart that I want to highlight.

    First and most significantly, this resolution is about transparency. It is about asking for light to be brought to obscured processes and about improving communication between ALA and Library of Congress with the goal of supporting ALA members in equitably serving patrons. Subject headings, as a way of organizing the world, inherit the same value systems as their creators, value systems that may be racist, sexist, ablest, homophobic, or otherwise harmful. Silence is a form of complacency, of saying everything is okay as it is, and when we are silent on issues of systemic oppression, we fail to act ethically.

    In support of transparency, feedback on this resolution was solicited during Council Forum I, from the SAC Working Group on Alternatives to LCSH "Illegal aliens," via the Council email list, and via publicly accessible social media channels. The Social Responsibilities Round Table endorses this resolution. SALALM, REFORMA, and BCALA opted to neither endorse nor oppose. The Subject Analysis Committee voted 6-4 to oppose this resolution under advisement from the Public Policy and Advocacy team that this resolution and its companion could in tandem create bad press and muddy relationships between ALA and the individual Congressional staffers who have asked for more time to quietly resolve the issue of the specific subject heading identified for change five years ago. I understand taking risks is difficult. But if those of us with positional power scare ourselves into silence, we in turn uphold oppressive values.

    Second, this resolution is about respect. About respect for the unique knowledge and lived experiences of one another, of LC staff, of our library users. About respect for our profession, one that values democracy, social responsibility, and open access to information. As a member of ALA's Policy Corps, I hold the Public Policy and Advocacy team in such high regard, regard that made the decision to move this resolution immensely difficult. They too are experts in their field, and the work they do greatly outsizes their relatively small staff numbers. At the same time, the authors of this resolution have been excluded from meetings where this resolution was being discussed, and some information being shared about this resolution is consequently mischaracterized. This may send a discouraging message to ALA members who are engaged and take initiative. In Policy Corps, we often talk about the power of coalitions, about the value of saying "Yes, and" instead of "No" or "Yes, but." This is an opportunity to say, "Yes, and."

    And third, this resolution is about collaboration. As many of us have been reminded in a painful way during the pandemic, humans are not meant to go it alone. We need each other. This resolution is a call for improved collaboration with Library of Congress because the work we do when we work together is stronger, more inclusive, and more enduring than anything we undertake in isolation.

    Even though the vote comes down to "yes" or "no," my hope is that debate approaches this resolution with complexity, with respect, with transparency, and with humility. Should this resolution be referred to the Committee on Legislation or a work group, I urge those privileged to be in those spaces to remember what is really at stake. Thank you.


  • 2.  RE: full comments re: CD#55

    Posted Jun 30, 2021 06:46 PM
    Thank you Hannah for this thoughtful write-up and for sharing what was left unsaid, and for championing this resolution.

    In solidarity,

    ~Oscar

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    Oscar Lanza-Galindo
    Associate Dean
    Bunker Hill Community College
    He/Him/His
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