The goal is to weave EDI into everything we do, for example, centering anti-racist principles just like we center literacy as a core component of librarianship. Whether it’s health programming (p. 36), collection development (p. 17, 34) or engaging with underserved audiences where they are (p. 4, 6, 24), we owe it to our patrons, our communities, and ourselves to be more inclusive, to share more power, to center those who are marginalized, and ultimately create a place of belonging that Nikkita Oliver so beautifully describes.
At a recent internal staff training, my colleague Sunny Kim shared the keen observation that librarians are often mythologized and revered within the community as champions of literacy, access, learning and growth. That is not to say the narrative is untrue, Kim explained, just that it often obscures a history of exclusion, racism, and marginalization that libraries have exercised against certain groups, as documented in books like Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow. The mythology surrounding libraries and librarians can also keep us from reevaluating the status quo with an equity lens. Another way to look at libraries and library staff is that we are gatekeepers; we hold the keys to institutions of real power—the power to maintain existing systemic and institutional inequities or the power to dismantle those inequities.
Recently, I attended a power analysis training from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (OCR). One of the trainers, Kelly O'Brien, OCR’s Race & Social Justice Strategic Development Specialist, reminded the group that there has never been a just society in the history of the world. While some might view that as a depressing thought, O’Brien instead implored us to honor the fact that equity and social justice work is a difficult, imperfect, and often unclear process. We don’t have the answers; if we did, we’d already be there. It’s up to all of us to come together to do the hard and messy work of creating more just institutions, policies, approaches and practices. And there’s no one way to do this work; there will be disagreements, slip ups, and times when we unintentionally do harm. Those will be opportunities to lay down our defenses and self-reflect, humbly receive and offer feedback, graciously forgive, and move forward in earnest.
This edition of Alki is meant to begin a conversation—to give you ideas, tools, and inspiration to move forward with your essential work and to challenge you to think bigger and deeper about your impact on those you serve. There are too many great articles within these pages for me to adequately introduce them all here. I encourage you to explore this issue and find the pieces that will leave an impression on you.
Lastly, this is a moment of transition for both WLA leadership and Alki. Beginning in January 2020, Kate Laughlin will take on a new role as the first Executive Director for the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, and Brianna Hoffman will transition to the role of Executive Director for the Washington Library Association (more on this in “Milestones” on p. 47). And this will be my last issue as editor for Alki as I take some personal time to spend with my newborn and my family. Soon, we will have a new editor at the helm, supported by a robust Editorial Committee, and I look forward to the continued prominence of Alki as the leading library journal of its kind.
Alki Editor: Di Zhang
Alki Editorial Committee: Suzanne Carlson-Prandini, committee chair; Beth Bruno; Troi Gale; Linda Johns; Magenta Loera; Katy Olsen; Lauren Pressley; Chris Skausget; Kelsey Smith; Michelle Urberg; Mindy Van Wingen
Design: Sonya Kopetz, KB design
Cover attribution: Maggie Block
Download the full-color PDF issue below.
by Di Zhang
by Jesse O’Dunne
by Troi Gale
by Karen Knudson
by Nadiyah Browne and Valerie Wonder
by Maggie Block and Stephanie Zero
by Kathleen Dunbar
by Suzanne Carlson-Prandini
by Lauren Bryant
by Dr. Michelle H. Martin, Craig Seasholes, and Melanie Boerner
by Rachelle Martin
by Deborah Sandler and Lauren Mayer
by Helen Edwards
by Elizabeth Roberts
by Kelsey Smith
by Mary Moser and Elizabeth Bruno
by Michele Spatz, Carolyn Martin, Nancy Shin and Emily Hamstra
by Tami Masenhimer
by Sara Cordes
by Greg Bem
by Michael Ebburg
by Sarah Threlkeld and the Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children’s and Young Adult Literature
by David Wright
by Darcy McMurtery