IlA/ACRL Stands with ILA on Racism and Social Justice

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The Iowa chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries stands with the Iowa Library Association in support and solidarity with those demonstrating for racial justice. Black Lives Matter, and it is incumbent upon on all of us to work to create an equitable and explicitly anti-racist society. Let us also remember to center Black voices and concerns, both at this moment and as this work continues into the future.

Libraries and higher education, as formal social institutions, have historically often reinforced inequity and oppression in spite of our stated values of access and inclusion.

Below you will find the ILA letter of support for Black Lives Matter and social and racial justice, and the organization's diversity statment.

Dear ILA Members,

As representatives of the Iowa Library Association, we proclaim our solidarity with Iowans and Americans who are currently demonstrating for racial justice and for the rights of all to live free of oppression. We state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. The systemic racism that negatively impacts the lives of people of color is contradictory to all that libraries stand for as institutions committed to equal access to information, content, and services. 

The Iowa Library Association stands with library workers, with our library patrons, and with members of the communities we serve who experience acts of prejudice, threats of violence, and discrimination based solely on their race or ethnicity. We believe that it is necessary for our profession to speak out against the violence experienced due to racism and ensure that we provide equitable services and resources.

We feel moved to speak out on this subject out of concern for our colleagues, our patrons, and our communities as a whole. As a profession, we need to be clear that Black Lives Matter. Hatred, violence, prejudice, or exclusion of people because of their appearance is not acceptable and that needs to be demonstrated by libraries on a daily basis. We can only do this by voicing our support for people of color and by working against systemic oppression. ILA has taken action to work against systemic oppression by forming the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (CD&I) in 2016, which works to advance awareness and improve services to a wide range of often underserved populations in Iowa. The Committee promotes awareness of issues related to traditionally underrepresented groups. CD&I presented the ILA Statement on Social Justice, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion which was adopted by the ILA Executive Board on December 6, 2019. As an organization, we are committed to continuing this work to address inequality in our profession and in the larger culture.

We are proud of how Iowa Libraries continue to serve our communities through these difficult times.  Libraries across the state are providing resources, creating booklists, providing safe spaces, and supporting those who depend on us. Let us stand together and support those seeking justice and equity.

Be well,

ILA Board of Directors

In 2019, ILA adopted the following statement on social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion:

The Iowa Library Association (ILA) sees issues relating to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion as inherently linked and essential to the practice of librarianship. 

ILA takes a broad view of these issues, considering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of our membership, the communities we serve, the state of Iowa, nationally, and globally. 

ILA values, supports, and promotes inclusive practices, and considers and encourages diverse perspectives.

Libraries have an important role in empowering diverse or underrepresented populations. 

It is vital that libraries, those who serve within libraries, and professional associations demonstrate an understanding of informed, considered, respectful, and responsible practice for the greater good, not only for the communities served, but also within the profession itself. 

ILA is proactive and committed to efforts that combat racism, prejudice, stereotyping, harassment, and discrimination on the basis of, but not limited to, “race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, creed, color, religious background, national origin, language of origin or disability” (ALA Policy Manual Section B: Positions and Public Policy Statements, American Library Association, 2019, p. 24). 

Beyond the areas listed above, ILA is committed to remaining flexible and adaptable in response to the ways in which our understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion changes over time, working to align ILA’s efforts to be at the forefront of social progress, social justice, and cultural competence as they relate to libraries.