News from National REFORMA. ALA President’s endorsement.
From: Reforma President [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 8:22 AM
Subject: REFORMA Endorsement of Jim Neal for ALA President
During the General Membership Meeting at ALA Midwinter in Boston we voted to endorse Jim Neal for ALA President. I wanted to share with you his responses to some questions that are important to REFORMA and our profession. We are excited for Jim and are looking forward to working with him if he becomes our next ALA President!
Please let me know if you have any questions.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: James G. Neal <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:09 AM
Subject: Responses to Your Questions
Beatriz, I am honored to be endorsed by REFORMA for American Library Association President. I provide below responses
to the questions that you shared:
a. There have been many concerns about the persistent under representation of ethnic minorities in the ranks of librarians.
How do you perceive this problem and how would you, as ALA President, address this deficiency?
The decline in the number and percentage of librarians of color over the last ten years is a severe disappointment to me
personally. Having worked on the development of the Spectrum program and the fundraising to increase the number of
scholarships, and having served as a mentor for over twenty years in the academic library community working with young
and mid-career librarians from traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups in several leadership development programs,
I fully expected the numbers to increase.
Clearly, we need to continue to invest in and support individuals who want to
pursue a career in librarianship and provide expanding financial support. We also need to understand why individuals from
ethnic minorities are attracted to the profession, are not interested in the field, and leave the field for other jobs. We need
to promote the profession more aggressively and creatively in high schools and colleges to help students to understand the
exciting careers librarianship can offer. And we must improve salaries and work life in order to retain individuals, and stop
losing great people to other more lucrative and satisfying professions.
b. In the context of your background as an employer /administrator, what steps had you previously taken to promote an ethnically diverse work environment?
Throughout my career as a librarian and academic administrator at six institutions, I have consistently and aggressively
advanced diversity and inclusion, and campus culture as high priorities for leadership, investment and action. At three
universities, I was a member of the university-wide diversity planning committee, and at Indiana University chaired the
work to develop the institutional strategy, the Bloomington Imperative. At Penn State, Indiana, Hopkins and Columbia,
I worked closely with library human resources and staff search committees to expand the number of applicants and individuals
interviewed from ethnic minorities, resulting in increased diversity of professional staff at all institutions. I encouraged and
supported the participation of librarians of color in professional activities and leadership development programs, and
facilitated mentor relationships. I organized staff discussions and invited speakers to campus to stimulate the thinking and
action about campus culture and opportunities for inclusion.
c. What could ALA do to involve underrepresented groups (ethnic minorities) in the Association?
My campaign statement commits to the following. My VISION: ALA leads the profession to translate a commitment to
diversity into impactful actions for inclusion. ALA puts us at the tables where the futures of our communities, our nation
and our world are being debated, all arenas reflecting an increasingly diverse society. ADVOCATE: ALA will connect librarians to the priority social and economic issues of our time, economic inequality and immigration, for example.
ACTIVATE: ALA will sustain and grow the work of the Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion so that the Association and libraries are models of leadership and action.
In order to advance this vision and achieve these goals, I will seek to establish diversity and inclusion as Association-wide and and profession-wide priorities focusing our collective energy and resources. I will expand the diversity of individuals appointed
to key leadership and decision making roles in ALA committees and forums. I will strongly encourage nominating committees to present slates with expanded diversity for election to ALA leadership positions. I will support the expansion of formal mentoring
programs to enable young and diverse professionals to expand their capacity for professional
leadership. I will seek to increase funding to support the travel expenses of your and diverse professionals to enable attendance
and participation at ALA conferences and meetings. And I will consult with a diverse group of colleagues to advance ALA's
d. What can library school educators do to recruit underrepresented groups? How can these schools address the issues of diversity within the curriculum so that all graduates are better-prepared to address these needs?
Library schools have a special responsibility and capacity to attract ethnic minorities to the profession. They set the
expectations and process for professional education. They have the ability to reach out regionally in high schools and colleges
to educate and excite individuals about librarianship. They can focus resources on financial assistance that will enable
individuals to pay for their education and get through the program more quickly with less debt. They can assist graduates
with securing the first professional assignment. They can work closely with librarians in all types of libraries to make sure
that organizational culture and priorities are focused on a diverse work force and a positive professional experience. They
can conduct the research that will help us to understand the dynamics of career choice and employee retention.
They can prepare their graduates through the course work, through internships, and through workshops to be better prepared to
work in diverse communities, to promote a professional commitment to inclusion, and to understand how equity of access
to information is an essential core value of the field. Also, we must recognize that an expanding number of library professionals
are not being prepared in library schools. As the responsibilities and work of libraries changes, individuals with other types
of educational preparation and from other professions are needed, thus encouraging us to cast our net more widely and
aggressively as we seek to recruit and retain a diverse professional work force.
f. If elected ALA President, how can REFORMA work with you to promote diversity within ALA and provide more training opportunities and resources to library staff in the United States?
As ALA President, I will commit to the success of our Association-wide and profession-wide focus on diversity and inclusion. It will require an expanding partnership among ALA and the Ethnic Affiliates and the new Joint Council. REFORMA brings to this collaboration critical experience, expertise, understanding and networking in the Latino and Spanish-speaking communities. We need to work together in building a capacity for advocacy on the key priority of diversity and inclusion, for enhanced data gathering and
research, for recruitment and retention of new professionals, for educational programming and training, for improved salaries
and working conditions, for opening up opportunities for career and professional advancement.
James G. Neal
University Librarian Emeritus
315F IAB, Lehman Library
429 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027