Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2nd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Kansas City, MO. Let me tell you, it was one of the best, if not the best conference I have ever attended. Every panel I went to was amazing and was exactly as advertised. Every person I met or passed or shared an elevator with had a smile on their face and a kind word. The all-conference celebration at the end let me see what awesome dancers librarians are – and made me also feel a little less self-conscious about many things. It was a conference of anti-labels. Rarely did you hear the ever ubiquitous line “What Are You?”. People sought education and practiced what they learned. There were meaningful conversations about supporting future generations of diverse librarians and how we can recruit, recruit, recruit.
As the powerpoints and materials from the sessions I attended become available and I have more time to really internalize the sessions, I will write more. For now, though, some messages that I carried with me:
- We have to advocate for diversity, for librarianship, and for ourselves. No one else will do it for us.
- Stress and depression are something we all battle. We need to create a support network and cultivate a healthy workspace for all. Stressors come in all shapes and sizes and we may not always realize what those stressors are until we take a hard look.
- Confidence is key.
- Diversity benefits everyone involved. It creates better work environments for employees and makes the institution stronger and more competitive
- Look for populations that are marginalized in already marginalized communities. They tend to get lost in the shuffle
- Educate the public to look for materials they will find appropriate for their children. Educate them on why some things are and aren’t in the library
- Get out of your box. That’s the only way to see things with a clear perspective.
This conference validated how I see myself as a librarian and a community member. As someone who strives to help educate and bring awareness to issues of race and discrimination not just in the library world but in everyday life. This conference also connected me with like-minded people who recognize that we are not living in a post-racial world and are still far from it, no matter how far we’ve come in the last 100 years. Together, we can move forward and make our voices heard and create a place for us in an incredibly white profession.
More to come…