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Understanding the Other

Illustration: green2/AdobeStock Islamophobia in the US existed long before the September 11 attacks. But as a traumatized country mourned and searched for someone to blame, fear and suspicion of those perceived to be Muslims or Arab Americans intensified. The FBI reported a 17-fold increase in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim crimes in 2001 over the previous year, […]

Bookend: Beyond Words

Tenzin Kalsang, children’s librarian at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library’s Williamsburg branch, performs Tibetan storytimes for users around the world. Photo: Todd Boebel When Tenzin Kalsang, children’s librarian at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library’s (BPL) Williamsburg branch, started an online series of bilingual storytimes in April 2020, the native Tibetan speaker couldn’t have predicted she’d become an […]

Libraries Connect Us

Connection—across our diverse backgrounds, experiences, and futures—is a theme of my presidential year, and it is a necessary conversation. Demographers predict that by 2050, African Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinx, and Indigenous people will constitute the majority of Americans. So how does the American Library Association (ALA) fit into our rapidly evolving democracy? How can […]

2021 Annual Conference Wrap-Up

Though the ongoing pandemic prompted the American Library Association (ALA) to hold its 2021 Annual Conference and Exhibition virtually June 23–29, there was no shortage of enthusiasm or curiosity among the more than 9,100 attendees who gathered online to hear from speakers and authors and share their experiences. Nikole Hannah-Jones Headlining speakers talked about books, […]

Ask, Listen, Empower

Illustration: Franzi Draws Until we live in a truly egalitarian society, we need to actively work toward making society more equitable. Put another way, it is not enough to simply be not racist; we must work to be antiracist. Psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, uses the analogy of a moving walkway. […]

Countering Anti-Asian Hate

On May 20, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which addresses the increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic. The measure comes as the nation celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Three ALA member leaders who have helped blaze the trail for Asian […]

Newsmaker: Emmanuel Acho

Emmanuel Acho. Photo: Ali Rasoul After the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020, Fox Sports analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho felt compelled to do something. He, a Black man and son of Nigerian immigrants, was receiving questions from white people asking about racism and how to […]

2020 Year in Review

ALA Headquarters Move After 57 years on East Huron Street in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, ALA headquarters relocated to Michigan Plaza at 225 N. Michigan Avenue. ALA Welcomes New Executive Director Tracie D. Hall began on February 24 as the American Library Association’s (ALA) new executive director (ED). The 10th ED—and the first female African-American […]

Mitigating Implicit Bias

Illustration: ©Feodora/Adobe Stock In January 2019, Jade Alburo, librarian for Southeast Asian and Pacific Island studies at UCLA, wrote a Twitter thread that recounted a patron’s experience searching a large academic archive. When the patron could not find materials on Vietnamese or South Vietnamese subjects, archives staffers suggested that he search with a pejorative term […]

Black Caucus of the ALA Celebr...

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). “BCALA comes out of an unflagging commitment to equity,” says Tracie D. Hall, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) and herself a member of the affiliate organization. “I cannot help but think of how prescient its founding […]

The Activist Life of E. J. Jos...

A towering figure in both librarianship and the civil rights movement, E. J. Josey (1924–2009) cofounded the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and served as ALA president (1984–1985). He inspired and mentored colleagues and students with a leadership style that reverberates today. Renate L. Chancellor, associate professor in the Department of Library […]

Let Them Lead

Teen leader Iris Alvarenga poses in front of yard signs at Waltham (Mass.) Public Library that depict issues youth patrons care about. The installation was a partnership between the library, civic organization For Freedoms, and local art group Blueprint Projects. Photo: Erwin Cardona/Waltham (Mass.) Public Library Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations—renewed by the death of […]

Drawing the Line

University of Kentucky in Lexington is attempting to remove a 1934 mural by artist Ann Rice O’Hanlon (detail shown here). Photo: Mark Cornelison In the 1930s and 1940s, federal programs such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) paid artists and artisans to create thousands of artworks. Some of those works ended up on display in […]

Let Our Legacy Be Justice

We are living in extraordinary times. A time when a pandemic has required that we distance ourselves from one another, and a time when the stand against racism and racial violence requires we come together. Just as there was an outcry across the field to keep our staff and communities safe and protected from COVID-19, […]

Black Lives Matter

I was born in 1968, a year many describe as the most tumultuous of the second half of the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered April 4, 1968, as he was protesting the conditions of Memphis sanitation workers whose rallying call was “I Am a Man.” Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was murdered while […]

The Rainbow’s Arc

The ALA Gay and Lesbian Task Force ­marching in the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: ALA Archives Fifty years ago, under the auspices of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibilities Round Table, a small group of activists, librarians, and activist-librarians formed what was then known as the Task Force on Gay Liberation—the very first gay […]

By the Numbers: Pride Month

Cruise: The Guide to Gay Entertainment in the Southeast. Photo: Queer Music Heritage 1970Year the Rainbow Round Table (RRT) of the American Library Association (ALA)—the nation’s first LGBT professional organization—was founded as the Task Force on Gay Liberation. (For more on the RRT and its 50th anniversary, see our story “The Rainbow’s Arc.”) 49Number of years […]