ALA Conference Report, Part 4

ALA Conference Reports, Part 4 – Reports from Our Members:

KaurMiriam Medow:

This is my report back on the APALA Symposium, held on the Thursday before Annual at USF:

I didn’t know what to expect at the APALA (Asian/ Pacific American Librarians Association) Symposium and was THRILLED that much of the day was relevant and engaging! The keynote speaker, Valarie Kaur (seen in this photo), gave a presentation about the importance of sharing stories in community to build resilience in the face of tragic events. It was healing and hopeful in the wake of Charleston. She asked us to think of stories from our own lives that give us strength, and encouraged a couple of attendees to share their deeply personal, moving stories with the big group. Powerful stuff.

There was a panel discussion (featuring six women) on “Choosing Leadership.” One big take-away from this session was to always be a mentor, and always have a mentor. Another was that, sometimes, assuming a position of leadership in the library means leaving behind duties that we really enjoy. The panelists all missed direct service, but believed they had made the right choice because, in their new admin positions, they had more impact and were able to make decisions that shaped their library’s services.

Another excellent session was called, “‘Where are you really from?’ – Dealing with Microaggressions in the Workplace.” We talked in a big group about what micro aggressions are — “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults toward individuals from marginalized communities.” Then we split into smaller groups to discuss how we would respond to specific comments, such as “You look too young to be a librarian,” and “You speak English really well.” Useful take-aways from this session were that we ALL unintentionally say things that are ignorant or hurtful sometimes, and the best response is to, in the moment, be accountable and say something like “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” Period. When on the receiving end of a microaggression, one useful approach is to ask the person, “May I give you some feedback?” and then, if they say Yes, point out how their comment or action was offensive. The session leaders run a tumblr called Microaggressions in Librarianship: — check it out if you’re in the mood to be galled 🙂

The Symposium is held every 5 years — I highly recommend everyone consider attending when it comes around again in 2020!


Miriam Medow

Children’s Librarian

Dimond Branch Library

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