Joint Conference of Librarians of Color

JCLCThe second Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) was held on September 19-23 in Kansas City, MO.  For four days, more than 800 participants -from diverse groups of librarians, library staff, library supporters, and library administrators- explored issues, shared successful ideas, and discussed challenges of diversity in libraries.  It was great to be there for part of the conference.  As with any multi-track conference, at times it was hard to choose which session to attend :-( … a copy of the full program is available on the JCLC website.  The following is a short report of selected sessions I attended:

  • Perspectives on Academic Library Change, Culture and Future Leadership, by Jon Cawthorne, Theresa Byrd, and Tyrone Cannon. Central questions that the speakers asked were: if everything is electronic, why do we need the library? and how should a library look like in 2040?  To make it more interactive, they formed groups and gave us three possible scenarios and we had to choose the one we thought most likely to happen; however, three out of five groups (including mine) reported that the proposed scenarios are obsolete or with services that are already being implemented.  Many agreed that one characteristic of any type of future scenario will include a metric for assessing and demonstrating the value of services.
  • All Things Digital, a panel with Charles J. Henry & Jon Patrick Gant and moderated by Anthony D. Smith from IMLS. The panelists talked about projects like the Digital Public Library of America, Building Digital Communities: A Framework for Action, and Connect to Compete.  Although many of these project goals may not seem to have a direct impact on academic libraries right now; in the mid-long term, these types of projects can definitely help to better prepare future college students -particularly those students from underrepresented communities, which can subsequently support universities’ diversity/inclusion programs.
  • Diversity in the Special Collections Field: From Defining the Need to Providing Solutions, by Athena Jackson, Chella Vaidyanathan, and Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty. The speakers talked about the need for more diverse representation in a field where determining selection and providing access to rare, unique, and original materials are important.  They reported on their efforts to recruit librarians from underrepresented groups to consider joining this area of librarianship.  There were some interesting thoughts from this talk that we could have included in our manuscript -currently in review- on Digital Diversity.
  • The Need for Diversity Research in the Profession: A Collaborative Opportunity, by Karen Downing, Merve Fejzula, and Mark Winston. The presenters emphasized on the need for more diversity research in the profession -maybe something like what we see in Diversity Inc.  They also talked about the next steps for this type of work; I would agree that future research should include documentation of successful stories and demonstration of the positive effects of diversity in organizations.
  • Re-Branding Librarianship: Diversity Recruitment Practices from the Field, by Deena Smith, Emily Chan, Hannah Lee, Michelle McKinney, and Eura Szuwalski. They shared their experiences encouraging registration and use of the Knowledge Alliance website, which “re-brands” librarianship as a field of diverse individuals, and their work recruiting a diverse group of high school and college students to consider librarianship as a career option.  As part of this group, it’s always good to hear what has worked for others when talking to students about librarianship -for me, the goal is always about some students with a great set of technical/programming skills.

I was also part of two poster sessions:
Digital Diversity: Examples from Miami University Libraries, in this poster we provided an overview of selected examples of diversity-related online collections digitized by Miami University Libraries.  We also talked about the “research value and uniqueness” as two essential factors that help collection managers in selecting digitization projects that can support institutional goals such as expanding diversity.
Digital Diversity at Miami University Libraries

Minnesota Institute Reflections: Three Personal Stories, in this poster session we presented an overview of the MN Institute, discussed three personal experiences about the program’s impact in our professional activities, and provided a list of future leadership programs available for mid-career librarians.
MN Institute

Overall, JCLC was a great opportunity to see friends from the MN Institute & the iSchool as well as to meet and talk to new people.  Last but not least, hoping that there will be a 3rd JCLC in six years, I probably should start brainstorming some new/interesting projects for the next five years :-)