I'm not a member of the ALA, but I work with them on issues concerning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I'm on the ALA EDI implementation Work Group and I try to represent marginalized people who can't afford membership or conference participation (among other things).
I would say that ALA has been made progress due in large part to work by people like Melissa Cardenas-Dow, Trevor Dawes, Martin Garner and many others who are strongly committed to EDI in ALA and in libraries in general.
I would also say that the constituency should scrutinize candidate's actual work on EDI.
In my blog post on the 2015 ALA election I explicitly state that there was only one real candidate who seemed to address EDI.
That candidate was JP Porcaro...
It seems that, up until recently, the ALA has not really taken this issue seriously. They have focused on programs that teach marginalized people how to operate in oppressive systems without creating any real change. Instead, there should be a focus on changing the structural barriers and structural racism that exist within the organization. This kind of structural racism has caused the ALA to make little to no progress in the area of ethnic representation in the library field. Look here for some information on this: https://lowriderlibrarian.blo
gspot.com/2014/09/little-to- no-progress-in-ethnic.html .
ALA is too expensive, is too financially restrictive and is too exclusive for many librarians to participate in a genuine and engaged manner. ALA is making slow progress in this area, but it is making progress. I would say that ALA is listening and things are changing slowly.
Some things that would help ALA create change:
- Strong leadership who emphasize the importance of, and the dedication to ED,I as an organization
- Putting more money toward EDI and making it a real priority in the organization
- A more diverse (in all areas) membership to increase new ideas and development of the organization
- Structural change that makes the organization more accessible to people who can't go to conferences and who can't pay full membership dues
- More discussion before making press statements that seem to support fascism
- A more meaningful relationship with membership.
- It should be something more than just getting a copy of American Libraries in the mail every so often
- Less of a European hierarchical infrastructure and more of a participatory flat infrastructure
ALA and libraries in general seem to be a very classist organizations with the majority of librarians who are 2nd generation of deeper middle class. This impacts work in areas such as community engagement, programming and staff relations. This also impacts areas like LIS research--where there is nary a study on White-supremacy and Information in the US; where the area of Culture and Information Literacy has been hardly touched.
I am hopeful ALA is changing in the areas mentioned above.
I'm tired, but there is still a long way to go!