SRRT (Social Responsibilities Round Table)

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The Social Responsibilities Round Table works to make ALA more democratic and to establish progressive priorities not only for the Association, but also for the entire profession. Concern for human and economic rights was an important element in the founding of SRRT and remains an urgent concern today. SRRT believes that libraries and librarians must recognize and help solve social problems and inequities in order to carry out their mandate to work for the common good and bolster democracy.

Learn more about SRRT on the ALA website.

  • 1.  Reflections on the 9/18 SRRT meeting and the perennial difficulty

    Posted Sep 18, 2023 12:46 PM

    Hello SRRT folks,

    When I saw the agenda for today's meeting, I noticed that something difficult happened at the in-person meeting at Annual, and it sounds the kind of thing I am familiar with from my time on SRRT Action Council years ago. I count myself as a SRRT "veteran," and I wish the word were less accurate. (I've been hurt, and have hurt others.) I have reflected a lot on the way I behaved at meetings back in the day, and the way those meetings felt, and I'd like to share a few thoughts.

    Even as an observer at the meeting today, I could feel the tension. I had no problem with anything that people said, and really appreciated a lot of it, but even so I could feel my blood rising just from being in the group, even muted and as invisible as I could be.  It's a feeling of anxiety and anger mixed together. It's fight-or-flight feelings. These meetings bring this kind of feeling up in men in particular. I don't know why that is, but maybe it's related to whatever reason men are overrepresented in SRRT to begin with.

    There is a problem that I think we have in common with most values-based groups. I think it often most strongly affects people who have strong feelings about the values and principles that these groups are based on, because they care the most about things turning out in accordance with those values, as they interpret them.

    Two me these two things, the fight-or-flight feelings and the rigidity and controllingness that come from a commitment to values, recommend two possible remedies. The first is to deal with those feelings by shifting our attention to them, at exactly the moments when it seems the issues being discussed are of the highest importance. To take a break. Maybe as soon as things start to get heated at a meeting, the coordinator can ask for a minute of meditation on your feelings. If that sounds a little woo woo, please take a minute to think about it. 

    The second is to loosen up, and to remember that other people's views are just as important as your own.

    That inclusivity part though, as we began to see in the discussion of the values statement today, runs into a difficulty. The attempt to formulate that first statement, about SRRT being inclusive of those who share our values and commitments and are well intentioned, had us running around in circles a little bit. Who decides who shares our values and commitments? Who decides who is well-intentioned? Can we really assume that everyone is well intentioned? Back in the early 2000s, as some here will remember,  a hard-right blogger began attending SRRT meetings, absolutely with hostile intent. I think it's not unlikely that SRRT will see someone like that again in the future, the way things are these days. When someone like that comes along, everyone would agree that his intentions are bad, except him. This blogger made specific reference to the bylaws and included himself in those the group was intended for. It was extremely frustrating. So, I think we have to admit that we cannot and do not always assume someone is with us with the best of intentions. 

    And what happens when such a judgment is not unanimous? What happens when someone drops in who is a Bill Maher Democrat, just for an example, who assures us that he's an old school liberal but takes a lot of conservative positions and is a centrist on all the rest? Maybe most in the group would welcome him and give him credit for good intentions, but likely some in the group, with arguably good justifications, would not. It would almost be a worse situation than dealing with a hard right interloper, which would at least unify the group around the question of what to do about him.

    It seems like an insoluble problem, one that's at the core of any values-based group, but I don't think it really is insoluble. The answer, or my answer, is: feelings, and respect for others. Dealing with fight-or-flight feelings internally as they come up, even if it means leaving an issue to others for a minute, and remembering to be generally loose and liberal with our judgments, by way of recalling that our own views are not more important than anyone else's, regardless of our experience or knowledge of political things. 

    If I felt more confident in my own ability to do this, I might want to rejoin Action Council, but really, I don't think I've overcome this problem enough in myself to be the positive influence I'd like to be. But I'm glad to sit in like I did today.

    Rory Litwin

    Rory Litwin
    Library Juice Academy

  • 2.  RE: Reflections on the 9/18 SRRT meeting and the perennial difficulty

    Posted Sep 18, 2023 02:16 PM
    Thank you for the feedback, Rory. I'm sure Action Council members will see this and take your feedback into account as we work on the SRRT Community Commitment draft.

    I felt really positive after the meeting today and I hate that it did the opposite for you. That said, I am self-aware enough to know that social settings are not my strong suit and that I am not always the most articulate speaker. If there is something that I said or did that caused anger or anxiety, please feel free to contact me directly at


  • 3.  RE: Reflections on the 9/18 SRRT meeting and the perennial difficulty

    Posted Sep 18, 2023 02:32 PM
    Hi April,

    I really should clarify. There was nothing about the meeting in particular that caused that response in me. Not anything anybody said or anybody who was there. It's just the fact that it was a SRRT meeting. The culture precedes what happens in the meetings.


    Rory Litwin

    Pronouns: he, him, his

    Schedule a meeting:

    I have a secure email account at

    P.O. Box 188784
    Sacramento, CA 95818
    Tel. (916) 905-0291 (mobile)
    Tel. (916) 917-5951 (house phone)
    Fax (916) 415-5446

    The Sacramento area is the tribal land of Nisenan people of the central valley, the Foothills and Southern Maidu people to the north, the Valley Miwok and Me-Wuk people to the east, and the Patwin, Wintun, and Wintu people to the south and west. 

  • 4.  RE: Reflections on the 9/18 SRRT meeting and the perennial difficulty

    Posted Sep 18, 2023 02:54 PM
    Gotcha. I totally understand that.


  • 5.  RE: Reflections on the 9/18 SRRT meeting and the perennial difficulty

    Posted Oct 10, 2023 05:24 AM


    I am a newbie to this committee. So far, I am lurking on posts to understand the committee's culture. Admittedly, I have not attended a monthly meeting. Your letter has encouraged me to investigate this experience.  As I lurk, I think about my civil rights experiences in my library. I want to contribute to the conversation but await an opportunity to speak and be heard. Thank you for your honesty and transparency.  I wish there were contacts to mentor a newbie into committee work.

    Best Regards,

    Donald Michael
    Digital Literacy Specialist
    Central Piedmont Library Services

  • 6.  RE: Reflections on the 9/18 SRRT meeting and the perennial difficulty

    Posted Oct 10, 2023 09:00 AM
    Hello, Don!

    One thing I'd like to do within the next year is to create a webpage with volunteer and committee opportunities so SRRT members will have everything in one place. Maybe we can also identify a point of contact to help match members into work that will fit them. In the meantime, I'm happy to help anyone find their place in SRRT.

    SRRT members can see our recent activities on our Year in Review page and below are some volunteer and committee opportunities. I would say that every group is open to suggestions and volunteers:


    • Feminist Task Force – Provides feminist perspectives on issues related to libraries and librarianship. This group maintains the Feminist discussion group and the Rise: Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18 book list.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday Task ForceSupports and advances the observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday as an American celebration. One of the big activities of this task force is the MLK Sunrise Celebration at LLX. Conservations for the January 2024 have just begun.
    • International Responsibilities Task Force Advocates socially responsible positions on issues of international library concern. One of their recent activities has been tracking anti-boycott legislation.
    • Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Task Force Fosters greater awareness of the dimensions, causes, and ways to end hunger, homelessness, and poverty. They maintain the HHPTF blog and I believe they are interested in starting a podcast.
    • SRRT Web & Social Media Committee – This group oversees, well, the website and SRRT's social media.
    • SRRT Programming Committee – They handle all the programming! They are currently planning a 90 minute webinar in November and a day long even on prisons/abolition in February-ish.
    • Herb Biblo Award Committee – Puts out the call for nominations, reviews applicants, and awards the Herb Biblo Outstanding Leadership Award for Social Justice & Equality. This work runs from now until the end of January.
    • Travel Award Committee – Puts out the call for nominations, reviews applicants, and awards up to 2 awards each year towards conference attendance at Annual. This work runs from now until the end of January.
    • Membership Committee - This committee welcomes new members, keeps tracks of our membership statistics, and looks for ways to increase membership. 
    • Emerging Leaders Selection Committee - Selects the SRRT Emerging Leader. (work for this year is done)
    • SRRT Newsletter Editorial Board – Puts together the newsletter four times a year.

    In addition to the above activities, SRRT members are also welcomed and encouraged to help develop new activities and task forces. It only takes 10 members to start a task force and there's quite a bit of flexibility on the theme of the task force since social responsibilities cover so much area. For example, we currently have a member working on developing a new task force on aging.

    If any of these things are of interest, please feel free to reach out to me at