Libraries and Social Justice

2016 has been a year that has brought many important conversations about social justice to the forefront: Black Lives Matter, immigration, gender equality, the rights of indigenous people, poverty and economic inequality, LGBTQ rights.

Libraries across the United States have responded to these conversations in various ways, and within our profession, valid questions have been raised about the role of libraries in social discourse. How do we as library professionals preserves the objectivity of libraries as public institutions and ourselves as information professionals when the idea that free access of information to all is still a radical ideal?

The answer? By doing what libraries, librarians, and library workers do best.

We’ll create spaces that bring together different segments of our communities, but ensure that space is safe for all.

We’ll be inclusive and supportive environments for all of our marginalized patrons.

We’ll fulfill our mission to make everyone feel welcome and valued.

We’ll continue to provide information on these movements, causes, and issues so that patrons may educate themselves.

We’ll develop collections to help serve and reach and enrich underserved communities.

We’ll ensure that these collections contain a variety of viewpoints.

To this end, YALSAblog and The Hub will be sharing resources to help library staff work for and with teens for social justice during the month of December. YALSAblog will focus on programming, professional development, and advocacy, while the Hub will be focusing on collections and content curation. We’ll have 30 days worth of material focused on cultural competence, inclusivity, diversity, and equity.

Would you like to share the work you’re doing for and with teens related to social justice? How are you leveraging your collections to facilitate conversations with teens? What challenges are you facing? If you’re interested in sharing your story, please contact me at yalsahub@gmail.com.

—Molly Wetta, currently listening to The Mothers by Brit Bennett

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