Last week we held our first virtual Staff Development Week with a variety of sessions and Network Group meetings. As always, I read through the evaluations and was once again grateful for the thought and honesty which people put into their comments. Based on the feedback, the week was a success and we thank those that participated!
However, there were some comments that brought home to me the fact that NEO-RLS is not doing as much as we should be to assure that our programs and presenters approach topics from a multiplicity of lived realities and not just a single dominant voice. In addition, I don’t want anyone leaving a program feeling as though their viewpoints or experiences were dismissed or that they had to do heavy emotional lifting in order to help others understand their situation. Not only is this important to me as the Executive Director of NEO-RLS (because we are charged with providing library staff with the needed competencies and understanding to serve their varied communities effectively), it is personally important to me as the parent of a child with a partner of color and a transgender stepchild. As members of a profession which serves a diversity of people, it is all of our responsibility to be personally invested in remediating any and all issues which hamper inclusion and equity. The NEO-RLS Board and staff will be working on a plan in the coming months to ensure that our programming avoids known pitfalls. We must convey to our speakers our expectation that multiple viewpoints (e.g., citing studies and works by authors of color, authors with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ authors, women authors, etc.) are represented, that content consciously takes into consideration the experiences of people who have encountered bias and is modified accordingly, and that comments in the chat are given adequate follow up. This has to be a priority for us if we are to serve you in the manner you deserve so that you can, in turn, serve your communities in the manner they deserve. Thanks and have a safe and healthy week!