2010 National Diversity in Libraries Conference

As a new young professional (not a yuppie, I promise) I have big dreams of attending conferences, and budding anxieties of presenting at them. I love to talk about libraries with library-people. It is an actual interest and favourite pastime of mine, and I wish I had MORE librarians as close friends. I’ve attended a couple conferences in the past and will certainly branch out to attend others, but as a result of their (often) costly admission and far or remote locations, sometimes I simply just can’t justify it.

I recently received word of a library convention called the “National Diversity in Libraries Conference” (NDLC) held in Princeton, New Jersey from July 14-16. The 2010 theme of the NDLC is “From Groundwork to Action.” The fundamental principle of this conference speaks loudly to me owing to my social beliefs, lifestyle as a minority, and my interests in multiculturalism, accessibility, and cultural pluralism. I visited the homepage for the conference and read about some of the sessions and speakers. The range of topics is unanticipated and impressive, and I’ve become increasingly interested in getting to Princeton in mid-July. Here are some of my favourite session titles:

  • Speaking up: Providing staff training and tools for dealing with diversity issues on the spotLinda Klimczyk, Jeff Knapp, Loanne Snavely
  • Much ado about Tintin? User services, collections, and racially offensive materials in librariesAngela Maycock, Loida Garcia-Febo, Julius Jefferson
  • Differently diverse: moving libraries beyond ADA compliance to full inclusion for allMs. Clayton A. Copeland, Dr. Linda Lucas Walling, Ms. Peggy Kaney, Mr. Avery Olmstead

There are also others that address literacy and youth, equal opportunities, libraries as safe places, and sensitivity training. One topic that I would like to have seen represented more is the impact that legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will have on both public and private libraries. Granted, the NDLC is an American conference, I’m sure similar legislation has passed South of the border that will affect accessibility planning for public spaces. It’s an interesting project to consider in terms of library project management and inclusiveness. (Perhaps I should have written a proposal, eh??). The third title listed above has to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act and this could touch on my idea, but from the abstract seems more about diverse aspects of access.

You might glean from the titles I’ve highlighted that my interests surround inclusion, accessibility, and eliminating heteronormativity and hateful language, both in literature and spoken by persons. These are important issues that continue to require the attention of all levels of library staff… and unfortunately they don’t exist in a library-vacuum (made that up) but persist in many occupations and public services. In my current workplace I’m happy to say that I hear a great deal of inclusive language (e.g. “my Partner and I…”), and I think this kind of behaviour generates a culture of acceptance and kindness.

I hope that everyone who attends the 2010 National Diversity in Libraries Conference has the best time and learns heaps from each other. I’m jealous that I can’t be there, but hopefully I’ll attend the next one (it’s biennial), in 2012!

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