Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice – April–August 2020 Report

The group met 4-6 times this reporting period.

Recent Activities

First Activity
Twitter Chat Series:
To date, our Task Force has hosted a Twitter Chat series focused on health inequity, diversity in library staffing, and community engagement. We continue to work on additional issue-based chats to present to library workers. The purpose of these chats is to encourage librarians and library staff to begin to consider the significance and importance of these topics through a Post-Covid lens. As each of us begins thinking of how to safely and fully reopen our libraries, we want issues of EDISJ to be a focal point for these upcoming and ongoing conversations.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

Second Activity
PLA Magazine Articles:
The task force has been given the opportunity to contribute a monthly column to the Public Libraries magazine. This column enables us to highlight issues and concerns as they relate to EDISJ.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

Third Activity
PLA Statement and Call to Action for Public Library Workers to Address Racism:
While this may not be considered an activity… our collective work on this statement reflects our commitment to supporting all public library workers in addressing systemic racism. This statement acts as a compass for how we will develop new opportunities to serve the profession.
Meets PLA’s strategic goals for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

What will your group be working on for the next six months?
We will continue to host our Twitter Chats. This platform has enabled us to build an information sharing network as it relates to EDISJ. We’ve also been able to act as a connector- introducing library workers to others who have shared interests, shared work, and shared ideas.

We look forward to working with and supporting PLA Leadership Academy on a training that centers EDISJ work. The committee will also continue to contribute our monthly column to Public Libraries magazine.

While we’ve had to shelve our highly successful, in-person training, with Mia Henry – Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us, our goal is to identify ways in which we can implement a successful virtual training.

Does the group have any policy recommendations, ideas with financial impact, or other items to bring to the PLA Board for discussion or action
As a Task Force we have two concerns:

1) We believe that we have moved beyond the Task Force designation and should become a committee. Task Force work is often targeted, short term and focused on one specific issue. We recognize that our work is long-term, frequently evolving, and requires consistent, on-going effort and attention. To that end, we are asking to become the PLA EDISJ Committee.

2) This work is too big, too important to move forward strictly by committee members who meet once-monthly. Social Justice and equity, diversity, and inclusion are more important than ever before. As hard as we are working on fostering conversations, providing information, and building a network of supportive, engaged, and fully invested librarians and library professionals, we need greater support. We believe that this work could be furthered by a full-time staff member who is dedicated solely to this work.

Do you have any suggestions for future products or resources (excluding conference programs) to be developed based on your group’s work?
PLA EDISJ Task Force Equity Toolkit. This kit should feature a lexicon, conversation starters, activities, and more.

Are there other PLA/ALA committees your group might collaborate with to benefit the work of all?
We’d love to collaborate with BCALA, APALA, AILA, REFORMA, JCLC, CALA, and any other library organizations that amplify the voices of communities of color.

Have there been any issues related to meeting participation/attendance for any of the group’s members?

Is there anything PLA could have provided during this time that would have helped your group with its work?
I think it should be said that the EDISJ Task Force wouldn’t be able to contribute to the level that we do without PLA staff Leighann Wood and Scott Allen. They absolutely provide tremendous and highly appreciated support to our Task Force. With their continued support and the addition of a staff member who is solely dedicated to moving this important work forward, the PLA EDISJ TF could better meet our desired goals.

Submitted by Christina Fuller-Gregory & Lois Langer Thompson on 08/24/2020