"More than machinery, we need humanity."
Our dear friend of the LibrarianShipwreck, Emily Drabinski (who you may remember wrote a guest post about the LIU faculty lockout in 2016), is running for president of the American Library Association.
I think you should vote for her. Here’s why.
On the side of labor. She’s experienced labor struggle firsthand, in the rank and file. As you can read in the above linked post, Emily was one of the librarians locked out by management at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus in 2016. There, university administration locked out faculty — the first time that had happened in the US, ever — during contentious contract negotiations. Five years earlier, the faculty had struck. Emily was involved in both, and was the union secretary during the lockout. Beyond the firsthand experiences, Emily is always ready to share her organizing skills with others; she met with me when I was considering trying to unionize my then-workplace, and she will always pick up the phone when you call to talk about organizing. Emily knows that libraries are domains of struggle and that if we organize collective power, we can win.
Support for younger librarians & the profession’s future. I’m not the only one who can say that Emily has supported them early on in their career. We had lunch when I was in my 20s and trying to find my way forward in librarianship — and she picked up the tab, as I was unemployed at the time. This is not a unique story. From professional acquaintances to formal mentorships to teaching library school, Emily has always lifted up library workers coming up behind her.
Commitment to libraries as public infrastructure & a public good. As the Interim Chief Librarian at CUNY’s Grad Center library, Emily knows what disinvestment in public institutions looks like. Library vendor consolidation and attendant high costs of selection and acquisition, description, circulation and preservation. Under-resourced libraries in rural and international contexts facing steep barriers to access. Cities and states neglecting public higher education, leading to rising tuition costs and crumbling buildings. Emily already leads on these issues.
Race, class, gender, and climate equity. We NEED Emily right now. NEED. At a time when ALA continues to hemorrhage members, in no small part due to recent racism from individuals and the organization; while workers and patrons feel white supremacist capitalist patriarchy looming and library after library is forced to pull books about queer people and people of color off the shelves; and while we hold our breath waiting for the next climate disaster — we need someone at the head of our largest professional organization who will make a material difference in the lives of library workers and patrons. Emily does not shrink from the knowledge that our profession has often been on the side of oppression. She will direct resources and opportunities in support library workers and patrons who continue to be denied power and opportunity on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, national origin, spoken language, and disability; and she will advance a public agenda that makes organizing for justice the center of library work.
Have I convinced you? If you’re not quite there yet, you can read more about Emily, her platform, and her expereince at her campaign website. Ballots will be sent on March 14, 2022, and voting is open until April 6, 2022.