The 2019 ALA Conference was held in Washington, D.C., where librarians had the opportunity to explore the executive, judicial, and legislative buildings and make connections with leaders in those branches. As the division councilor for AASL, I serve a similar legislative role representing AASL within ALA Council. This means I am the voice of AASL and AASL members on the council floor, making sure that school and youth issues are considered in every relevant report and resolution. It also means that I communicate with other school librarians to help them understand what council does and why. Communication is a two-way street, so I appreciate your questions and comments to ensure I represent you well within council and the AASL Board.
Below I highlight several items of interest to school librarians. The American Libraries magazine has a concise recap of council matters listing resolutions and committee reports.
ALA Council approved a resolution on library services for children in migrant detention centers (CD#52). In the resolution, bullet points #3 through #5 are particularly relevant to those of us who work with youth:
“Resolved, that the American Library Association:
- Denounces the removal of educational and recreational programming, such as storytimes, from youth detention centers and calls for the reestablishment of these programs;
- Urges libraries with detention centers in or near their service areas to reach out to and work with local authorities, schools, and governmental support agencies;
- Strongly encourages libraries to perform outreach and provide access to materials for both education and entertainment in a variety of formats and media in as many languages as possible as appropriate for the populations being served;”
Council also approved a resolution to form a working group to address concerns on digital content pricing for libraries (CD#53). This resolution is important as school libraries are consumers of e-books, digital textbooks, and other digital content. During deliberation, I went to the microphone to call for AASL to be part of the joint working group. If you receive an invitation to serve on an ALA joint committee, I encourage you to accept.
The council also reviews reports, oversees fiscal management, and monitors committees. Some groups that updated their progress or asked for extensions include the Eliminating Library Fines as a Form of Social Equity Working Group; the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) (which included censorship of library research databases and K–12 students’ rights to freedom of expression, especially on social media); and information on Banned Books Week Grants, which provide financial support and guidance to libraries, schools, and community organizations planning Banned Books Week celebrations.
One of the most important reports we receive in council comes from the Intellectual Freedom Committee (CD#19.5-19.11). Two documents in the committee’s report that impact school libraries include CD#19.8, “Diverse Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” and CD# 19.9, “Minors and Online Activity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” which the council must approve before they are included in the updated Intellectual Freedom Manual. The Intellectual Freedom Manual is a dynamic book that is under constant revision. When you see requests for comments about interpretations, this is an opportunity for you to help set the future of intellectual freedom within libraries.
As part of legislation, the Committee on Organization (COO) reported that the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table has changed its name to the Rainbow Round Table (CD#27.1). COO shared that two additional representatives from the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) and from the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) will be added to the Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee (RNTLOAK). Having increased representation within that group will help convey the needs of rural and small libraries throughout our country.
Councilors participated in a facilitated discussion on equity, diversity, and inclusion through a social justice lens and the role of the ALA Council. These discussions aligned with one of the core values in AASL’s new strategic plan, which is available on the AASL website.
Another unique aspect of council resolutions involves memorials and tributes. I co-sponsored a memorial for Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas and a tribute to Dr. Ann Carlson Weeks. Both were created thanks to the collaborative work of AASL and ALA members, including Judi Moreillon, Ann Dutton Ewbank, Hilda Weisburg, Martín J. Gómez, Sara Kelly Johns, Jim Neal, Patricia Glass Schuman, Mario Gonzales, Michael Golrick, Ann K. Symons, Patricia Wong, Eboni Henry, Ray Pun, and Virginia Moore.
ALA councilors work together through other formal and informal ways, including the Youth Council Caucus, the Diversity Council, and the Division Councilors Meet-Up. Any conference attendee is welcome to attend the Youth Council Caucus, where councilors interested in youth issues, including representatives from AASL, ALSC, and YALSA, lead a discussion. Recent attendees include members of the Socially Responsible RoundTable and ALA Council Committees. During this ALA Annual Conference I helped organize a movement for the Youth Council Caucus members to sit together in one location during Council III so we could easily discuss issues as they arose. This coordination helped us ensure that our voice was heard at the microphone and that we were able to provide frequent reminders to council that all issues are youth issues.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and comments. Thank you for the honor and privilege to serve as your voice on council!
Author: Diane Chen
AASL Representative to ALA Council