One of the professional organizations I currently belong to is the Indiana Black Librarian Network. One may wonder why
there is a need for such an organization in the 21st century but to members, the need is obvious. Many members still work in an environment where there are few if any people of color in the workplace and this can often evolve into uncomfortable and even inappropriate situations. From supporting each other through situations of racist comments, learning how to tactfully promote issues of race, coming to terms with a glass ceiling and celebrating accomplishments, the need is there. Imagine being the only White, the only Latino or the only one of your ethnicity in a workplace and you’ll begin to understand the need.
This weekend IBLN celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Black Cultural Center (BCC) on the Purdue University Campus. I hate that I missed the keynote speaker Roland Parrish, but I do hope to be present in April at the dedication of Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics to which he gifted $2 million.
I joined the celebration on Saturday morning. The drive brought back so many memories of visits to the campus while my oldest son was a student there. The small town has grown and developed in the few years since he left, but it still had an old shoe comfortable feel. Finding the BCC in the center of the campus wasn’t difficult, although I hadn’t visited the two-story building before. My son said the facility held good memories for him while at Purdue and I could feel why. The center encompasses a small auditorium as well as a library while the architecture and décor and Afrocentric in flavor. We lunched on campus at Whiley Hall. Does the thought of a campus lunch sound less that appealing to you? Well, think of your local cafeteria and kick it up a notch! I couldn’t believe the vast selection available for students and visitors!!
Leslie Morgan, Associate Librarian at University of Notre Dame spoke about being a leader when you’re not in a leadership position. Quite often, as librarians in school and academic situations, we can and should position ourselves in leadership positions. Information, after all is power and what are libraries other than the information center of any institution. Leslie suggested three books for today’s librarians.
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, TalentSmart Press
- What to ask the person in the mirror byRobert S. Kaplan; Harvard Business Press
- Being the boss: The three imperatives of becoming a great leader by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback; Harvard Business Press
Jos Holman, County Librarian at the Tippecanoe County Public Library and current BCALA president fascinated us as a Storyteller. After delivering three entertaining selections, he presented the challenge that IBLN (and all BCLALA affiliates and member groups) nominate atleast one person for the BCALA executive board elections.
Pamela Goodes, Associate Editor of American Libraries did an inspiring job of walking us through the
myriad of ALA publications. Inspiring because by time she was finished, several in the room seemed to want to write articles, submit photos, apply for grants and awards and serve on committees. I went straight online last night to apply for an ALA committee. We’ll see!!
Pamela is the first Black editor to be employed at ALA in its 100 year history. I believe she said there are no other people of color at the executive level and even no POC reviewers for Booklist!
While members receive print copies of American Libraries online, full text editions are available online.
The day ended with a panel discussion with I-LLID fellows. These inspiring young people were from one of three cohorts of I-LLIDs, a cohort developed through a grant to the Indiana State Library and mentored through the IBLN to get more librarians of color. While the majority of the 30 new librarians are Black, there were also Native, Asian and Latino Americans in the group. I feel like a new librarian (heck, I am!!) but it was invigorating to hear what these young, new librarians are doing
and what they aspire to do!
- Willie Miller is an Assistant Librarian at IUPUI and recently published an article on Wordle in the Library.
- James Wallace Jr serves as the Temporary Director of the Office of Diversity Programming at Indiana Northwest.
- Kirsten Weaver is a vivacious teen library in Frankfort, IN.
- Nichelle Hayes is a K-5 School Librarian.
- Michelle Dartis works as an Intern with the Indiana State Library.
- Kisha Tandy is the Associate Curator of Social History at the Indiana State Museum. She shared with us information about “Represent: An exhibition of artwork by Blacks who have lived and worked in Indiana.”
Yours truly did a presentation on using social media to build your personal brand.
There is much I haven’t mention like the fantastic and impressive leadership of Connie Scott and Marcia Woodard and the work that so many of the members do. But, I do think I’ve highlighted what people of color bring to the table. Color doesn’t always impact what we do but it does impact our chance to do it. IBLN shows how well Black Librarians in Indiana are serving our communities.
As Kisha stated, “Our stories are important. Our history is valuable.”