Friday, March 29, 2013

Greater workforce diversity among ‘Conversation Starter’ candidates at ALA Annual Conference

ALA Connect is inviting American Library Association members to vote on “Conversation Starters” for the 2013 ALA Annual Conference. I cast my vote for Moving the Diversity Discussion Forward: What’s Next?

According to presenter Jennifer Garrett:
“The recent ALA Diversity Counts report was both eye opening and sobering. The movements we are making toward creating a more representative and diverse workforce are incremental, at best. While relevant, this session is, and must be, more than a discussion on ‘workforce transformations.’ Current librarians, staff, and students who represent underrepresented groups, either by being a member of one or by working toward diversity initiatives, will find this session useful. In a facilitated discussion, we will attempt to tackle the question of ‘what’s next?’ and hopefully develop connections, community, and change, which will continue outside of ALA.”
I believe that what should be next in a discussion of workforce diversity is the recruitment and greater representation by people with disabilities -- people with visual, physical, hearing and cognitive impairments -- among people in library service.

Outreach and recruitment should begin with financial aid -- similar to efforts with the Spectrum Scholarship to address imbalances in race/ethnicity -- and should continue with hiring.

“Conversation Starter” talks, according to ALA Connect, are fast-paced 45-minute sessions intended to jumpstart conversations and highlight emerging topics and trends.

Voting is open through March 31. The public votes will be weighted for 30 percent of the selection process; staff votes will account for another 30 percent while the remaining 40 percent will be decided by an advisory group of ALA members. Selected presenters will be notified by April 5.

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