Monday, July 25, 2016

Orlando Adventures and #ALAAC (2/3)

ALA '16 was a very important conference for me.

Not only was it my first ALA annual conference, it was also where I would be part of my first panel called "No Room at the Library: The Ethics of  Diversity"

The key-note speaker was Loida Garcia-Febo, and my fellow panelists were Anastasia Chiu and Jeff Sowder. After Loida gave her speech, there were 3 skits each followed with discussion between the panel and those sitting in the audience.

The first skit targeted Islamophobia in the library.
The second skit targeted the LGBTQ community in the library.
The third skit targeted Race in the library.

(The three skits can be found here under the attachment in the middle of the page)

 I have to admit. I was EXTREMELY nervous going in. Public speaking is NOT my forte and is something I normally avoid at all cost. So how did I find myself on a panel in the middle of a library conference with over a 100 people in attendance?

A couple of months before the conference, I was approached by a fellow library colleague I met on Facebook. She asked if I would be willing to look over/add to a anti-Islamophobia Resolution that her and other members of the ALA Council were looking to propose at mid-winter (this was also my first time seeing a resolution being done). I happily partook in this opportunity.

I was contacted sometime after to see if I would like to be part of something another group was putting together for Annual. Jumping at another opportunity, I said yes, and did not realize until much later that it would involve me speaking in front of a large group of people. By that point I was so far in that I really WANTED to be a part of it and needed to work to keep my nerves at bay.

(seeing my name up there quenched my nerves for 2 minutes)

While I felt that the panel went extremely well because of the amount of discussion that went on. I also felt a little lacking on my end. I was so nervous that I did not speak as much as I would have liked. I went in with all these great ideas and things to say in my head and yet found myself freezing. Other times I would force my mouth to start moving because that was the only way to get through my fear.

(the room was packed, all seats were filled, and there will people standing/sitting in the aisles and along the back, it was amazing)

Some of the points that were made and discussed:
  • As long as you are being respectful and depending on the vibes of the person in front of you, it is okay to ask Muslim people questions about their religion.
  • People will have issues with Muslim Librarians and Muslim patrons, knowledge is power, please share books and other materials to educate people.
  • Please do not make assumptions about a persons' gender.
  • People will have issues with members of the LGBTQ community especially in the debate about bathrooms, listen to their concerns as politely as possible, it might be time to take a look at your policy and make some changes in favor of including everyone.
  • A Black Lives Matter group and a White Supremacist group are NOT the same thing.
  • Be aware of what is happening in your library, what flyers are going up, be prepared for backlash, on popular topics of discussion. Be prepared to handle it.
  • There is a 75% chance (I just made that number up) that someone will have a problem with how things are run at your library especially if it is made to include EVERYONE. Especially if it is something they do not understand. Work with your staff/coworkers, be united, be patient, be educated, and find help when needed. You are not alone

This entire experience held so many firsts for me. First time seeing how a resolution was formed. Attending an Annual conference. Meeting so many new people. Visiting Florida. Being on a Panel. Talking in front of what I would consider, a large group of people.

Yet somehow, I managed to do it, and I was/am VERY proud of myself. I learned so much and it opened my eyes to the world of possibilities one can do being part of a library.

I graduated with my MSLIS 11 months ago. While I have been part of my current library for 10+ years, there is so much to learn. So much difference that can and will be made if we all stick together and move as one.

Dont get me started on the exhibits and the authors. Every book lovers' dream. I met so many amazing authors including some of my favorites and obtained such a haul that I had a bit of difficulty getting my luggage across at the airport.

My favorite though, was meeting Gayle Foreman for the second time and Laurie Halse Anderson for the first time. I completely teared up when I met Laurie, she was SO sweet (we even semi match(!), it was meant to be). Her book "The Impossible Knife of Memory" has left the biggest impression on me and I recommend it to everyone who asks for a book recommendation.

(can you tell how excited I am?)

I was also VERY excited for the children books I got. Some of them were absolutely beautiful in illustration and some really filled me with joy. 

One of my favorites was "Beautiful" by Stacy McAnulty. It gives such a POSITIVE and EMPOWERING lesson to little girls that I believe every little girl and grown woman should have one. 

I read the story to my niece who turns 3 on Halloween and she LOVED it. She would NOT let go of the book. She kept saying "Sara, she's dootyful" (beautiful) and would point at a girl covered in mud, then she would point at herself and say "I'm dootyful!" She then took the book, placed in her tote, and said "mine" and so it was.

(The cover, as found on Google)

All in all, I had such an amazing time in Florida and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity. I truly hope that there are many conferences in my future. 

(I'll leave you with a picture of my haul after sorting it when I got home. Not everything is pictured since I found another tote filled with things after taking this one)

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