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Core’s Annual President’s Program Calls on Libraries to Reclaim Their Value

Core’s Annual President’s Program Calls on Libraries to Reclaim Their Value

Narratives of trauma and marginalization surround us in libraries. In fact, they are embedded in our professional collective memory and the very existence of librarianship. Libraries are often undervalued. Our work as librarians is often invisible and conceptualizing workplace abuse and mistreatment in libraries is at long last realizing its “#MeToo” moment. Librarians are also experiencing the impacts of the global pandemic within larger contexts of organizational toxicity and collective disenchantment of the LIS profession.

On Saturday, June 25, at 4 pm ET, Core will present its President’s Program “Dear Librarians, No more trauma, no more pain: Reclaiming Our Value and Choosing To Win” featuring Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty during the 2022 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition. Speaking personal truths and professional observations from 20+ years in library, archives, and special collections work, Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty, Director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, challenges attendees to recenter their emotional investment in the hierarchical conflicts among themselves and honestly engage with the realities of contemporary library work and how their work as librarians is viewed by society at large.

In an era of unprecedented turnover, global health crisis, and crushing student debt, it is not a surprise that the Great Resignation is hitting libraries hard. Cynicism continues to take root more than solidarity and solution focused outcomes, and the punishing consequences to library workers are dangerous and systemic. Evangelestia-Dougherty asserts that this professional climate in LIS not only demands new library leadership competencies, behaviors, and ideologies but also requires librarians to courageously implement radical accountability to develop frameworks for understanding how to deescalate traumatic work experiences in libraries to prioritize elevating experiences of fairness and respect. Additionally, as a new wave of increasingly diverse library leaders arrives to address the longstanding issues in and of library work, library professionals must holistically confront how they become a profession that doesn’t need to defend its value and cultivates work environments for library workers that promote empowerment, compassion, healing, and belongingness.

“We seek ‘Black unicorns’ and instruments of change but fail to support, respect, empower, or simply listen to Black women in leadership roles,” says Evangelestia-Dougherty. “The act of reclaiming is one of empowerment and reconciliation which cannot come without painful and necessary reckoning with the combined and connected forces of whiteness, distrust, passivity, and inertia. This legacy toxicity in libraries is present in most American libraries—be they public, school, or academic. It is a professional albatross that we must counteract through collaborative alliances and trauma-informed leadership models if the profession is to experience post traumatic growth through our will to survive and thrive.”

Evangelestia-Dougherty’s address calls on the profession to stop the endless cycle of self-sabotage that is jeopardizing its future and professional capital. “If libraries carried the nation and the world through a global crisis, then we are strong enough to reclaim our value,” she states.

“Evangelestia-Dougherty will share insights and perspectives as a strategic leader in GLAMs [galleries, libraries, archives and museums] and crucial voice on topics of inclusivity and equity in bibliography, administration and primary-source literacy,” says Lindsay Cronk, Assistant Dean, Scholarly Resources and Curation at River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester and current Core President. “Speaking from decades of experience in public and academic libraries, archives and administration, Evangelestia-Dougherty’s address to Core members promises to be as thoughtful and visionary as the speaker herself.”

Please join Core for this timely and imperative talk during the 2022 President’s Program presented by Core President Lindsay Cronk and the Core President’s Program Committee.