Ask A Librarian: Dealing with haters?

A lesbian pride flag with a little picture of Marx in the upper corner and the caption "My president is a Marxist lesbian"

A friend writes in: What are you doing about the idiotic book bannings and attacks on Librarians and what can I do to help? 

It’s a mess and part of the mess is that it’s really state by state, so what might make sense for you where you are wouldn’t be the tactic in Pennsylvania or Iowa or Arkansas.

The usual advice is still good. Consider joining your local school board or library trustee board. You could even pony up some money to your state library association and join (even as a non-library person) which would help them do this work. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: Dealing with haters?”

Vermont Chapter Councilor Report – ALA Annual 2023

Hello — I recently got back from virtually attending ALA. Virtual attendance at Council meetings continues to work pretty well and I submitted one resolution.

We had significantly shorter meetings this time because we’ve gotten the main bylaws changed and the major Council reorganization done which were big jobs. Here is my report.

Previous reports from me: June 2020, January 2021 (did not write a report), July 2021, January 2022, June 2022 (did not go to ALA ), January 2023

I filled in for outgoing Councilor Marti Fisk who moved, and was elected to a three-year term starting in 2020. I am planning on having LibLearnX in January 2024 be my last conference.

So, VLA is looking for a Councilor. It’s a pretty low-key commitment: virtual or in-person attendance at meetings twice a year where you represent Vermont’s libraries and librarians, and occasional fill-in meetings. Paying attention to ongoing ALA Council issues and communicating about them to VLA. Writing conference reports and doing an annual “State of the Chapter” survey. I’ve been a Councilor for six years total–I was an “at large” councilor in the early aughts–and it’s a great way to meet librarians at a national level and work to get things done.

Do you already attend ALA and could you take on a bit more responsibility? Please contact me if you have further questions or want to get involved.
Continue reading “Vermont Chapter Councilor Report – ALA Annual 2023”

Why the Resolution on Guaranteeing Virtual Participation in ALA Governance?

With SRRT Councilor Tara Brady, I sponsored a resolution about making ALA governance available virtually. Right now the bylaws say that Executive Board and Council meetings “may be held in either fully virtual, or hybrid virtual-and-in-person modes.” and we want to change that may to shall. Since this involves a bylaws change (The first one with his new set of bylaws!) it was referred to the Bylaws Committee. Here are my brief remarks on why it is an important resolution.

I am Jessamyn West, Vermont’s Chapter Councilor. You should support this resolution because it addresses the following issues that ALA cares about.

1. Equity issue (one of ALA’s Four Strategic Directions, also in parity with membership meetings – also coming up as one of three of ALA’s core values) allowing more types of people to be involved in ALA governance.

2. Community Engagement issue (ALA Policy Manual A.1.6, one of ALA’s strategic objectives is removing barriers to participation via technology and innovation)

3. Climate friendly issue (2021 ALA CD #53 – ALA is trying to go carbon neutral by 2025 – this is also coming up as one of three of ALA’s core values)

4. Access issue (conference travel and accommodations and accessibility issues – coming up as one of three of ALA’s core values)

5. Safety issue (supporting our LGBTQIA+ communities when conferences may be held in places where they do not feel safe such as the IFLA World Library and Information Congress being held in Dubai, currently being explored by the Executive Board)

I move that the pending resolution be referred to the Bylaws Committee for review and further recommendation, including that the committee consult with BARC regarding any fiscal implications and that the committee report back to the Council at LLX 2024.

the work I got

Photograph of a person's hand adjusting a padlock. It's attached to a handle with a sign nearby that says "DO GOOD WORK"

So it’s funny, I spent a lot of time “working my network” to try to find the right thing for me. I applied for a few jobs, had a few good interviews but no actual bites, put feelers out on social media. And, at the end of the day, the thing that wound up working for me was a random “Hey I’d really like to work here at the point at which you wind up having people working here” email.

You can read the announcement about my new (part-time, contract) gig working for Flickr Commons as their Community Manager. I’m beyond stoked about this. First week went well, here’s to many more.

Lobbying my rep about the Move to Amend project

On Wednesday I spoke to the assistant to my congressional representative’s assistant encouraging her to be a co-sponsor of the We the People amendment. I prepared remarks because otherwise I tend to go on.

“I’m an elected official in my town, Randolph Vermont, and I work all the local elections. I also work in the public library where we struggle constantly against giant publishers who hold the ebook market under their absolute control, deciding prices and terms while also being the only game in town, not truly subject to market forces.

Nationally, public libraries are struggling under constant book challenges in public and school libraries. These challenges are frequently brought by centralized fake parenting organizations (in that the people who organize them may be parents but they are not usually parents of people in the schools and towns where they bring these challenges, they just find a local parent and tell them what to do) and are forwarding a dangerous white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ agenda while donating incredible amounts of money towards elections from school boards to Congress. It has to stop.

People need a level playing field so that we will truly live in a democracy and one person gets one vote and where corporate non-persons (that never die, that have special interests, that legally exist to accumulate capital, that *shouldn’t* have free speech in all cases) are suitably regulated and only enjoy privileges that are given to them by people and regulated by governments.

We are seeing, nationwide, situations in which a majority, a large majority, of Americans support or believe in a thing (abortion rights, legalized marijuana, the rights of our gay and trans friends and neighbors) but are having their voices drowned out by the “speech” of big money trying, and often succeeding, in influencing legislation via gerrymandering, fake grassroots organizations, and undue influence in elections.

And it’s a Vermont issue. Nearly one fifth of Vermont towns have passed resolutions at town meeting (over a decade ago) affirming that they feel money is not speech and corporations are not people.

Legal privileges for businesses, even non-profits, are subject to the political process already in place. Artificial persons should not have civil rights though the people who make them up absolutely should.

Money is not speech and corporations are not persons and people have rights over corporations which have the privileges we give them.

I work for my town. I believe in democracy. I want to live in a country where every person gets a vote and every non-person gets no votes.”