I began my librarian career and ALA membership in 1999. I ceased my ALA membership in 2010. It just didn’t seem worth the money.
As this year’s Annual ALA Conference began wrapping, I started seeing reports of Covid cases on Twitter. What lies beneath the surface is an organization that doesn’t care about its members. Thinking of the racism April Hathcock experienced at ALA, the both sides argument of the group space issue, the ALA is an organization not ready to lead in the new world. A new world of equity, diversity, and inclusion. A new world where white women don’t hold up progress like the 53% who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. A new world where men and women are paid equally and move into leadership at a similar pace.
Other than spectrum scholarships, diversity grants, awarding my friend and colleague librarian of the year , it is rare that I ever hear of positives associated with the ALA. Technically the librarian of the year award is given by ACRL which I do hear positive things. In fact, it is the divisions and committees that most want to join. It is having to also join ALA, the parent organization that most have issue with. Why can’t these divisions go rogue and succeed ALA?
The customs that we cling too are hurting us. Because the democrats are holding on to the old customs of reaching across the aisle, not having the guts to end the filibuster, doing things because it’s how we’ve always done it, we do not have universal healthcare, body autonomy, sensible gun laws, student loan forgiveness, free childcare, etc. Republicans are playing chess and Democrats playing checkers. The majority of citizens are asking, begging for real change in our institutions of government. How can we expect the founding institutions of government to change if we aren’t ready to change our organizations?
Governments should reflect the society they govern. If ALA no longer serves “us,” then let’s start an organization that will. Take the best of ALA and start anew. Black librarians, aren’t we commanded by E.J. Josey’s legacy to do so? Native Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinos, aren’t you similarly commanded by your giants?
As the Honorable Congressman John Lewis stated, “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Let’s get into some good trouble.