LIBRARIES ARE AMERICA’S MOST DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS
After an exhilarating and inspiring conference at the Mesa Convention Center in October, I am excited to start a successful new year with AzLA. The next year for AzLA will be about inclusiveness, diversity, equity and access. According to the most recent Census figures, 47.7% of Arizona’s population consists of Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans (with 22 tribal libraries), and people of Asian descent, including over 60,000 Refugees from countries all over the world.
Our Arizona libraries (public, academic, school, special, legal, medical, etc.) are ensuring people have access to information and lifelong learning regardless of age, education, ethnicity, gender, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers. Our Arizona libraries are strengthening communities and helping create a more literate and just society.
Recent Pew research indicates that 78% of Hispanics, 72% of women, 70% of parents of minors, and 70% of those 50 or older say that closure of the public library would have a major impact on their community. Arizona libraries and librarians recognizes the critical need for access to library and information resources, services, and technologies by all people, especially those who may experience language or literacy-related barriers; economic distress; cultural or social isolation; physical or attitudinal barriers; racism; discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, immigrant status, housing status, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression; or barriers to equal education, employment, and housing.
So, let’s begin thinking about the equitable services of libraries, diversity in its broadest sense, the inclusive nature of libraries, and all the ways to access information to make our communities a better place for all. Begin sharing your stories using the hashtag #AzLA2018! As your president, this year will be about listening to your stories around equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible services, sharing your stories, and learning from your stories because ACCESS EQUALS OPPORTUNITY!
Gina Macaluso is President of the Arizona Library Association