By Peter D. Coyl
Recently ALA has taken a stand on a number of pieces of legislation that affect the GLBT community including Georgia and North Carolina. In the case of Georgia, the GLBTRT was invited to help draft and co-sign a letter with ALA President Sari Feldman and in the case of North Carolina, with the President of ALSC.
In our initial days the GLBTRT was not very accepted by the Library community, including ALA. As time has progressed we have gained more acceptance and now involvement from ALA as a whole. In 1992 the Pride Parade contingent on the cover of American Libraries caused quite the ruckus and fuss among Librarians. [As an aside, a very interesting blog post on the early days of the GLBTRT can be found on the ALA Archives website at UIUC].
The GLBTRT was contacted by ALSC President Andrew Medlar to get feedback on their plans to hold the National Institute in North Carolina in light of the recent passage of their bill. This conversation spurred the letter with the ALA President, but alsoled to a face to face meeting with Andrew at PLA in Denver between myself, Past Chair Ann Symons and Chair Elect Deb Sica. Along with PLA staff, the four of us discussed what steps had been taken, possible future actions and their consequences and how to move forward. In the end the ALSC Board voted to cancel the National Institute because of the adverse impact the current law would have on their members and attendees.
The decision to cancel the Institute is not without cost: ALSC has fees and penalties it will incur, as well as costs to those who had already made lodging and travel arrangements (in some cases non refundable). It was not an easy decision for ALSC to make (and not all their members are in agreement or support it, just see the Facebook comments!) and it isn’t a decision that can be made for every ALA event. Nevertheless I am proud of ALSC for having the courage to have the conversation, and in the end, making the decision they thought was right.
There are lots of decisions made in library-land and in ALA every day. We can’t be part of all of them, but I am happy to say we were part of this one.