So what made the Joint Conference for Librarians of Color different? For me it was virtually no emphasis on the “how we did it” topics, but instead took a hard look at some of the fundamental tools/precepts of our profession. Yes, I do know there are library conferences that look at challenges that face us, but the challenges usually fall into three categories: the aging of the profession, technology, or the fact that no one understands exactly what we do. While I do truly appreciate the work of my colleagues to bring our attention to these issues, I can’t help but feel that there’s something….more profound that hasn’t been addressed.
For instance: what message are we conveying to our patrons by our approach to bibliographic instruction? Are we really empowering users or are we teaching them that education and learning are centered around technology and Western-centric precepts? Or are we reinforcing a very old message as to who’s really in charge?
Or when people of color (or anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotype of the average American) try to do research, why do they have to work harder to compensate our access tools, such as subject headings? In short, what are we saying to these folks when we don’t have LC subject headings that represent their lives, their realities?
For those of you who may be feeling that a conference like this may just be another exercise in reinforcing diversity fatigue, let’s just say that JCLC was the first conference that made me truly think about why we do things the way we do for everyone, not just for people of color. And that maybe–just maybe, we should be thinking about doing things differently. Not a bad conclusion to a conference that I was dreading.
I hope to be there next year, if there is one next year. And I hope to see you there too.
(Want more details about the conference? Visit the Gypsy Librarian‘s detailed review.)