YALSA Board update on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

In New Orleans at the 2018 Annual Conference, the YALSA Board discussed several documents related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. YALSA is committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and to make this commitment a reality the Board took several steps.

First, the Board approved the prioritization of the recommendations made by the Advancing Diversity Taskforce, which completed its work earlier this Spring. The recommendations of the committee were ranked by the board as High, Medium, and Low. The items ranked High Priority are currently being implemented. Those ranked Medium Priority will be tackled during the 2018-2019 board. Those that are ranked Low Priority will be re-evaluated at the beginning of the 2019-2020 board to determine what still needs to be done.

One of the High Priority recommendations was to evaluate YALSA’s current Mission, Vision, Intended Impact Statement, and Statement on Diversity. Jane Gov and Kate Denier offered a board document that recommends changes:

  • Leave the Mission Statement as-is
  • Changing the language in the Vision Statement to read “Our vision is that all teens, regardless of ability, class, gender identity, race and religion, have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development.”
  • Changing the first bullet point in the Intended Impact Statement by adding the following language “Libraries reach out to and equitably serve ALL teens in the community no matter what their backgrounds, interests, needs, race, gender identity, religion, class or abilities, and whether or not they frequent the library space.”
  • Expand the Statement on Diversity as recommended by Kafi Kumasi.

The Board voted to adopted the recommendations and directed the Executive Director to work with staff to post the changes by July 15th.

A second board document also addresses a High Prioirty recommendation from the Advancing Diversity Taskforce. Kafi Kumasi presented a new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement to replace YALSA’s existing Statement of Diversity.

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are ideals that the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) seeks to affirm in all facets of the organization. As a professional organization dedicated to enhancing library services for and with teens, YALSA recognizes that all teens, and particularly teens of color and those from other groups that have been historically oppressed based on factors including but not limited to ability, class, gender identity, race, and religion, need and deserve to see themselves reflected in the library staffing, policies, signage, web site content and much more. Therefore, YALSA seeks to address the cultural mismatch between today’s increasingly diverse teen population and the librarian workforce, which  remains overwhelmingly white and female.

Although achieving greater representational diversity is an important component of YALSA’s EDI goals, there are two equally important issues that the YALSA is committed to redressing on an institutional level: equity and inclusion. Attending to issues of equity and inclusion are important because they help move the organization away from mere platitudes about diversity and demand measurable actions to redress the systemic power asymmetries that have kept certain groups of people on the periphery of the organization. When YALSA attends to inequities in the organization, there is a direct benefit to all of the nation’s teens library staff are charged with serving who are more apt to feel included and empowered in library and information spaces, both physically and virtually.

Further, YALSA affirms and supports the American Library Association’s (ALA) EDI related policies, as outlined in the ALA Policv Manual, sections B3 through B8.

The Board voted to adopted the recommendations and directed the Executive Director to work with staff to post the new statement by July 15th.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell and myself also presented a draft Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan to the board, another High Priority recommendation. The board made recommendations and sent this document back to us for modifications. It will be edited and resubmitted to the board for discussion on at the first virtual board chat on August 3rd. This plan once approved will cover Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion activities and assessments until 2020.

The Board, as part of their commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, has also examined the environment within the volunteering experience, and what could be done to increase inclusivity. This document included a new Ethical Behavior Policy. The Board took several actions, including it:

  1. Adopted the updated Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers policy, as presented in this document and directs the Executive Director to work with staff to update it online by no later than July 15, 2018.
  2. Adopted the proposed language about meeting protocols to be added to all member group policies and procedures, as presented in this document and directs the Executive Director to work with staff to update it online by no later than July 15, 2018.
  3. Directed the Executive Director to work with all staff on an on-going basis to identify and participate in cultural competence and other relevant training with the goal of ensuring that YALSA is welcoming and inclusive to individuals from all backgrounds.
  4. Directed the in-coming YALSA President and Executive Director to implement the as yet incomplete recommendations as outlined in this document and to provide an update for the 2019 Midwinter Meeting.

One other document that the Board approved at Annual, which supports YALSA’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, was Book Awards and Lists in light of #MeToo. This document poses questions about what YALSA members might need in terms of support reconciling #MeToo and intellectual freedom principles.  The Board approved three motions:

  • the YALSA Board direct the incoming President to assemble a workgroup to provide resources and tools for evaluating materials and intellectual freedom in light of #MeToo.
  • the YALSA Board direct O&B to create a policy for award committees regarding giving and rescinding an award based on discussion in document #34.
  • the YALSA Board direct the incoming YALSA President direct the oversight committee to revisit training and to draft language to guide the award committee based on board discussion in document #34.

Keep checking the YALSAblog for more updates on YALSA’s Equity, Diversity, or Inclusion work. If you have thoughts or questions please feel free to reach out.

Respectfully,
Crystle Martin
YALSA President
crystle.martin@gmail.com

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