Notes From an Equity Fellow: Casual Diversity and ALA Conferences Spark Enthusiasm
I’m a school librarian, and I love connecting students with books they get excited about reading—we’ve all had that thrilling moment of handing a patron a book and seeing their eyes light up with recognition and enthusiasm. There’s nothing better! Connecting readers with books that resonate is our goal and our joy. A recently awarded fellowship opened the doors to new conference experiences for me, deepening my understanding of the many diverse and authentic voices in children’s literature while also highlighting the places where there is room for growth.
I became aware of the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) Equity Fellowship through an Oregon Association of School Libraries listserv post last fall. ALSC is a division of ALA, the American Library Association. The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force within ALSC was seeking ethnically and racially diverse library professionals who demonstrated a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in their personal or professional life, a capacity for leadership, and are providing direct services to children. In my application essay, I wrote about my work seeking out and selecting books for my school library collection, as well as my experience as a Mexican-American school librarian. I received a phone call later in the fall from a member of the task force letting me know that I had been selected as one of only six ALSC Equity Fellows in the country for 2019–2020. The news was exhilarating, and I was thrilled to learn that the fellowship includes membership for two years in ALA and financial support to attend the 2019 ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle and the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. In addition, the EDI Task Force connected me with a mentor from ASLC who can help me get more involved in the organization and navigate the complex conference schedules.