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Newsmaker: Savala Nolan

Savala Nolan. Photo: Andria Lo As a woman who is mixed race, has experienced elite schools and generational poverty, and has been thin and fat at different times in her life, Savala Nolan has long felt that she occupies in-between spaces in society. The lawyer, speaker, and writer (whose work has appeared in Bust, Time, […]

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. […]

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 […]

Tarnished Legacies

A Lakota camp in 1891. During his presidency, Benjamin Harrison forced the Sioux Nation to divide among separate reservations in the Dakotas and sent the military to Wounded Knee. Photo composite: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (Harrison, Lakota, tipis) For 67 years, Princeton (N.J.) University’s School of Public and International Affairs bore the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Separate—and Unequal

Carrie C. Robinson Fifty years ago this week, Carrie C. Robinson—a Black school librarian whose long career revealed much about the Jim Crow South, the challenges of integration, and librarianship in the civil rights era—settled a landmark case for racial justice in the profession. After being passed over for a promotion, she had sued her […]

Dragging AI

Teen participants in Boston Public Library’s “Drag vs. AI” program test their makeup and props against facial recognition software. Photo: Kathy Pham/American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts In November 2019, Boston Public Library’s (BPL) Teen Central hosted a digital privacy instruction workshop for teens that centered on facial recognition technology. Titled “Drag vs. AI,” the […]

When Not to Call the Cops

Four police officers confront a Black man at a library computer and tell him that because he’s been disturbing other patrons, he must leave the premises. The man refuses. The confrontation ends when the Black man is tased and dragged out of the library by the officers. This incident took place at the library where […]

Rethinking Police Presence

Amid mass protests of police violence against Black people, some libraries are revisiting the ways in which they’ve historically interacted with law enforcement—such as by hosting police-led community programming like Coffee with a Cop, hiring off-duty police as security officers, or calling 911 on disruptive patrons. For example, Toledo–Lucas County (Ohio) Public Library (TLCPL) has […]

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 […]

Judged by the Cover

The following guest column is a reprint from the rereleased May 1 issue of Booklist. Last week, it came to the attention of the editors at Booklist that there were issues around the magazine’s May 1 cover. After discussing the matter internally and with me, they decided to change the cover to the one you […]