It is difficult to put fingers to the keyboard to write this post. There is so much happening in the world. I have tried to stay true to my commitment to take a break from social media, with limited success. Last month Library Journal gave the Seattle Public Library the Library of the Year award. The article for the award mentions SPL’s commitment to social justice and diversity. But failed* to mention that late last year SPL hosted an event from a TERF group, ignoring the harm this event would cause their staff and their community. Library Journal has a long history of controversial nominations for movers and shakers. The nomination and award process itself is controversial. There are complicated feelings around the Movers and Shakers award in libraryland and no doubt about the Library of the Year award. Unlike the Movers and Shakers award, the Library of the Year award comes with money, $10,000 provided by Gale, a Cengage Company.
Dorthea Sal and Violet Fox (with help from others) drafted a letter and created a form allowing online signatures.
The following signatories demand that the 2020 Gale/LJ Library of the Year award be revoked, and the $10,000 prize be donated to Gender Justice League, a Seattle-based organization working to support civil and human rights for trans and gender diverse people.
You can view all the signatures here.
At the time I became aware of the award, I tweeted that I was removing the Movers and Shakers from my bio and my CV. I paused after reading Fobazi’s post that pointed out the privilege of being able to do this.
Around the time I received this award, I was also elected as an ALA councilor-at-large, quoted in the New York Times in an ebook article. I had already been invited to deliver keynotes, so it’s hard to say how much this award benefited me over the years. But I can hardly deny that being able to toss it away without a backward glance is privilege. My intention has been to do what she suggested and add a note voluntarily revoked due to irreconcilable differences in values.” Honestly, I dropped the ball on this due to LIFE. This morning I received this email from Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal.
I would like to thank Meredith and Library Journal for reminding me of this. I am going to answer her in the affirmative.
Gale has since donated $10,000 to Seattle’s Gender Justice League, and Library Journal has made a nice bullet point list of things they are going to do. What they have not done is revoke the award. The nomination criteria for the award as pretty straight forward:
- Service to the community.
- Creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic increase in library usage.
- Leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries.
You cannot tell me that there was not one other nomination for a library doing amazing, excellent, smart things that did allow a hate group to use their library. I won’t speculate on the motive for choosing SPL. But they should not have been selected.
I will either be editing my bio to add the disclaimer Fobazi suggested or remove mention of my Mover and Shaker award when the space limit does not allow the disclaimer.
“voluntarily revoked due to irreconcilable differences in values.”
Please consider reviewing your library’s meeting room policy. You can see excellent examples of safe library policies here.
Ettrah, Fobazi. “Mover And Shaker?” WTF Is a Radical Librarian, Anyway? (blog), June 5, 2020. https://fobaziettarh.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/mover-and-shaker/.