Our Journey is Not Complete
President Obama’s inauguration, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and all of these responses and discussions about Hi Miss Julie’s blog post (You can see Lifeguard Librarian’s list of Tumblarians’ reactions here) have had me thinking a lot of race, gender, librarianship—where we are going and where we have been.
It may seem overly noble, but I didn’t become a librarian to be famous, or present in front of hundreds of people. There will alway be those people in every profession, but I do not care for their presentations or their pomp and circumstance. The presentations I love are presented by real librarians who have solved real problems.
[Shout out to Vicky Baker who presented “Combatting Negativity Nellies in the Workplace” PLA 2012. I use that everyday!]
I am here for the hug from a kindergartener, a thank you from a single mom and the friendship I have with a fourth grade boy who doesn’t tell other people he likes “princess” books.
I’m fortunate to work in a library system full of females who are managers and leaders— from where I sit I see women in leadership positions from my immediate manager to the current president of ALA. But, in the words of President Obama, “our journey is not yet complete.”
We have come far from the days our grandmothers were forced to quit their jobs upon becoming married or pregnant, but the top library managers and directors in this country are still mostly male and the pay is still not equal. In 2011 women made 77% of what men earned, African American and Latina women made even less*. Other studies have estimated women earn roughly 82% of what their male peers earn (USA Today). Regardless women still don’t make the same money as men.
We have come far from the days when African American librarians crusaded to be included in ALA, E.J. Josey became the first black librarian allowed to join the Georgia Library Association and Clara Stanton Jones became the first African American president of ALA. But the fight for racial equality in this country continues and we still desperately need more ethnic and racial diversity among our ranks.
We have come far from the foundation of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Round Tablee and the lack of adequate LGBT subject heading. But look at the top challenged books in recent years and you’ll still find “And Tango Makes Three.”
We have traveled so very far from the spinster in the quiet library, but there is still work to do.
We don’t choose to be librarians for the fame or the fortune. We are librarians because we believe in free access to information; a person’s right to use the library regardless of origin, age, background, or views; the power of a story; the great equalizer known as knowledge.
Our journey is not yet complete, but we are librarians and we are ready for the fight.