Dr. Jean E. Coleman Lectures-2000-2009.
The Social Responsibilities Round Table Action Council of the American Library Association approved the following testimonial to the work of Jean Coleman in outreach during her work for the ALA Office for Library Outreach Services (now Office for Literacy and Outreach Services):
Jean Coleman . . . was outstanding in her willingness to listen to the members of the groups she worked with and to make their wishes effective, translating ideas into action and program, unlike the model of the staff who organizes the agenda and steers the meetings in a controlled setting.
She offered her services especially warmly to the minority librarians and those from small libraries, and did not play a career-promoting role of special services for the powerful. She therefore fully represented the original concerns of ALA in proposing the many outreach organizations and diverse programs under the OLOS umbrella.
She is especially missed by those who found in her the education to become competent officers and received from her the support to make their groups effective.
As printed in Library Journal, May 1, 1987.
About the Coleman Lecture
Dr. Jean E. Coleman was the first director of OLOS. This lecture series is a fitting tribute to her work to ensure that all citizens, particularly Native Americans and adult learners, have access to quality library services. The lecture series will continue to teach library professionals more about their roles in providing equity of access.
Sponsored by the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, the Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture is presented each year during the American Library Association's Annual Conference.
Mayo to present 2009 Dr. Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2009
Mayo to present 2009 Dr. Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
CHICAGO – Kathleen Mayo, head of Outreach Services for the Lee County Library System headquartered in Ft. Myers, Fla, will present the 2009 Dr. Jean E. Coleman Outreach Lecture for the American Library Association’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.
The lecture honors the first director of the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services for her leadership in focusing the association's attention on issues affecting the traditionally underserved and under-represented in libraries.
This year’s lecture, entitled “The Challenges and Opportunities of Serving America’s Elders," will look at the American population as it ages and how libraries are responding to the reality of true lifelong learning. Mayo will explore innovative approaches and broad thinking that have been successful in other arenas: examining our resources, partnering with dynamic community groups, engaging the energy of older adults and developing new models that work for our communities.
The event is sponsored by the OLOS Advisory Committee. For more information, visit www.ala.org/olos or contact Isaac Tufvesson at (800) 545-2433, ext. 2140, or email@example.com.
The mission of OLOS, as a part of the ALA Member Programs and Services Department, is to identify and promote library services that support equitable access to the knowledge and information stored in libraries. OLOS focuses attention on services that are inclusive of traditionally underserved populations, and people generally discriminated against based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, language and social class. The Office ensures that training, information resources, and technical assistance are available to help libraries and librarians develop effective strategies to grow programs and services for library users.
Dr. Clara M. Chu
“Dislocations of Multicultural Librarianship: A Critical Examination for a Liberatory Practice.” Clara Chu 2008 Jean Coleman Library Outreach Lecturer
Dr. Clara M. Chu, Associate Professor, Department of Information Studies, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), will present the 2008 Dr. Jean E. Coleman Outreach Lecture, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA.
This year’s lecture, entitled "Dislocations of Multicultural Librarianship: A Critical Examination for a Liberatory Practice," will explore the essential role libraries, as informational institutions, play in whose voices are heard and their responsibility for providing equity of access to information and services. Models will be discussed that examine our knowledge, attitudes and actions towards liberatory practice, and developing critical multicultural librarianship.
Monday, June 25, 2007, 8-10am
Presented in tribute to ALA Honorary Member Barbara Gittings, activist for gay rights and libraries, who died in the spring of 2007. Gittings has been recognized throughout her career for noteworthy activism for GLBT literature and rights. She chaired the Social Responsibilities Round Table's Gay Task Force from 1971–1986. The task force later evolved into ALA's Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table in 2000, and honored Gittings through the annual Stonewall Awards for outstanding lesbigay literature. The lecture will be presented by:
• Anne E. Moore, W.E.B. DuBois Library, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Boston, MA
• Stephen E. Stratton, J.S. Broome Library, California State University Channel Islands
• as well as other speakers.
Dr. Carla Hayden.“Access Agenda for All Libraries”
2006 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
By Carla Hayden
Good morning. It is truly an honor to be asked to deliver the Jean Coleman Lecture this year when we are celebrating thirty-five years of OLOS. I was truly humbled by my inclusion in such a distinguished group of recipients and speakers, most recently Sanford Berman, Richard Chabran, and the late Thelma Tate, whose son Alaric is here with us today.
In fact, to tell the truth I was somewhat intimidated when I thought about the wonderful woman whom the lecture is dedicated to and whom many of you knew, as we heard so touchingly in the remembrances. Dr. Coleman’s legacy of commitment to empower others, within and without the profession. Virginia Matthews, who we honor today and is cited as an “icon” in yesterday’s Cognotes, has also been a trailblazer and inspiration to many of us. Thank you for including me in this celebration of achievement and dedication.
I want to start with a heartfelt thank you to all of you for being here this morning. You did not have to get up early at conference to attend this event, one that although we have great jazz and food, is somewhat serious and in conflict with the Diversion’s service opportunity tour and Patriot Act “John Doe” program going on at the same time. So, I thank you for making this part of your conference agenda and for what you do everyday by caring for someone other than yourselves.
As a result, I also realize I might be preaching to the choir as I talk with you this morning. I know many of you are here today because you care and are committed to helping all communities and people move forward and live their best lives. Some of you have been advocates for equity in library services for many years; some of you may serve on library boards and many of you have also been active in your own communities on a number of quality of life issues; some of you have worked in a number of different types of libraries in your career and some of you are just starting.
Yet by your attendance here today, I would venture to say that most of you strongly believe in what libraries can do for people, especially those with the most need. You believe libraries can help build communities and even change lives. And so even if this is a pretty strong choir, I have heard that the best choirs still need to rehearse and learn a few new songs.
It is especially fitting that this year’s lecture is taking place in a city that has come to symbolize inequities in services and responses for people who have been traditionally underserved in so many ways. Although our own profession has freely used the term traditional users and services and recognized the underserved, the usage also indicates the fact that far too many people in this country, the poor, illiterate, minorities, rural were not considered traditional users and were probably unseen and therefore underserved.
Our own library history helps tell us why as we look at movements such as services to immigrants, the introduction of popular fiction and foreign languages into collections, serving children and teenagers. These efforts and others combined with an overriding impulse to improve mankind and a perceived need to socialize and educate people to form an informed electorate.
When we review our past we must face hard realities such as what the impact of being in a feminized profession has on our policy effectiveness and what the perceptions about women, some that are still in effect, have had on the nature of our institutions. (For more on that aspect, I’d highly recommend Dee Garrison’s “Apostles of Culture: The Public Librarian and American Society, 1876-1920.”)
A lot of progress has been made, nationally in society and within our profession, to eradicate inequities yet there is still much more to do. As I recently heard the noted historian Dr. John Hope Franklin point out, we must not be satisfied with the progress of individuals, like the first this or that, but work to ensure that everyone has opportunity, and everyone is treated fairly and like human beings. I would propose that for our profession that means having an access agenda.
Why access? Access is opportunity, the opportunity to obtain the necessary services that will allow a person to pursue whatever they may need to advance, imagine, engage, and enjoy. Access is more than just a technological concept, as some people might narrowly define it. If literacy is the highway to success, as our keynote speaker at last year’s Annual Conference in Chicago, Senator Barack Obama noted, then libraries are a vehicle of access for everyone to use. We know that libraries offer services that include talented and dedicated staff members and places to connect in everyway possible.
We also know that the global economic and social environment is changing rapidly and technology has impacted almost every facet of our lives, whether we like it or not. Despite gains in many areas, many people in this nation are still being left behind and will continue to in the technologically advanced future. We know that more and more information is only being published online, and many federal, state, and local governments are turning to “e-government” initiatives where all government business will be conducted online, including any form you may need to interact with them as well.
We also know that vital access to information and technology needed to meet the challenges faced by minorities, rural, and native populations is often limited to public facilities. In addressing the technological access divide we must not only look at the numbers of people online, which have increased for the underserved population, we must look at where they get access. This is vitally important when you consider just a few examples of the everyday impact of technology access.
I recently observed a very well dressed lady go to the front of a long line in the Post Office to deposit her computer generated preprinted mailing slipped package and one person saying, “Some people are really fortunate.” When someone tried to explain she did it on line, other people said, “she went to the front of the line,” or “is there another line” with a lot of confusion in line but no connection in people’s minds to online.
We see the impact in commercial arena, with the airline boarding passes. I remember getting to the airport 2 hours early for a Southwest flight and was surprised to find all of the A tickets taken; that’s when I found out about online and twenty-four hours ahead (though you still need to get there early to stand in the A line!)
Access is a moving target that bounces into many arenas, from technology to employment development. The Futurist predicts that 80% of the jobs in 20 years haven’t even been thought of yet but will definitely be technology related. In this world, many job categories like secretary or assistant, will not exist. The future will belong to those who can prepare for and master new information technology literacy experiences.
We must put all aspects of access into context and think about what this means in terms of library policy. We know about the dangers of an information apartheid or brown outs in communities with the new technologies. We know that rural areas need just as much attention as urban ones and that tribal communities are often the poorest of all. We talk about library staff members being the ultimate search engines or navigators in a sea of information but with Google and publishing are roles as mediators are evolving and becoming more important for challenged communities.
We must look at the big picture of access, not just technology and immediate challenges. We can not be afraid to think about the far future or to take the view from the balcony with the door open to a time when libraries will be very different, which many of us may not be comfortable with. So how can we help shape their development and make sure the values of access continue in a new age.
When thinking about an access agenda I thought about listing a long shopping list of what’s important to look at now, such as copyright and net neutrality or what prior Coleman lecturers have outlined, such as the Poor people’s agenda. Fortunately we already have a lot of plans, checklists, guides, models, toolkits and specifics for various populations. Equity of Access was the theme of my ALA presidency. There was a brochure produced (available online as well) that addresses numerous issues and items to check in order to ensure that people with varying needs can use our resources effectively. OLOS produced a very helpful book, From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice (ALA Editions), that provides clear roadmaps to equity in access. And there is a brand new OLOS toolkit for rural populations available at this conference.
After much reflection, I decided to broaden the subject to beyond a particular, program, procedure or plan (the abstract for this lecture will change!) The access agenda I would like you to consider is more of a clarion call to action. There is really only one big item on this access agenda: be involved personally and professionally with a clear sense that what you are doing matters to generations yet unborn.
The access agenda for today is to realize that helping families, students now can change the future for their children, grandchildren and great children as well as for our society and communities.
We have to step up and be even more efficient and effective; not just talk or a cause a lot of commotion and emotion without action and effective activity. Your professional involvement keeps you informed about what’s important now, but renewing and gaining perspective about the real mission and how what we do effects the opportunities for others is the agenda needed to shape a desired future, with the goals and objectives to be filled in as circumstances and situations dictate.
We must always remember that we have the power to help change lives and empower people. We can never be adequately compensated for the work that we do, which is really helping people get through life, because in a sense this is missionary work of a sort. To paraphrase the theologian Swinoll, the most significant things in life are done by people who are often “unknown, unseen, unappreciated, and unapplauded.” He is referring to the people, like many of you, who are quietly going about the business of helping others with no thought of fame or reward beyond the satisfaction of knowing you are trying to make a difference in people’s lives.
We are in a unique position; despite our stereotypes and perceptions or maybe because of them, we have credibility, the confidence of the public who know we are not in it for the money. Yes, we are working on adequate compensation but not only for our immediate personal needs but to attract and retain talent and show external how we are valued.
We cannot deny the impact of being in a feminized profession but we can’t be immobilized by it or let it stop us from moving forward.
We must look for potential barriers to access especially with policies in every realm. To be effective, we should be involved in access policies but not all politics in general. As individuals and in certain groups, we need to be concerned about all human indignities but when we tackle the access agenda for library services we need to concentrate our efforts and thought and not lose sight of our big picture; empowering others with the tools they need to realize their full potential as human beings.
The Patriot Act is recent example of what a difference we can make in policy. When the Attorney General and Congress respond and listen, though not in ways we would like, you know we have had an impact on public policy. We helped bring the privacy issues surrounding that act to the general public and the vigorous debates included library staff, much to the surprise of many.
We must realize that all public policy that effects access needs our perception. We can and should inform federal policy, with efforts like those of ALA’s Washington Office but also on local levels as well. We have credibility with legislators and their staffs because we are on the front line and can readily observe how library services affect lives in everyday ways. And our observations are applicable in varying degrees to library services in all settings. When thinking of access we must not let divisions based on type of library or user limit our opportunities and activities. Access issues touch every type of library in one way or another.
A legislator once told us that the best thing we can do when we advocate is to tell the story, and we certainly have stories to tell. I had the good fortune to receive a letter from a young man right around the time of the Columbine High School tragedy, in April 1999. It arrived in my office as I was preparing for a city council budget hearing that I must admit I was not looking forward to. I was not looking forward to hearing one councilperson ask why we still needed libraries when everyone had computers or another ask why have services for people who couldn’t read well anyway. (I work in a city with a 38% adult illiteracy rate and 50% high school drop out rate and a very serious drug addition problem.)
When I opened the handwritten note on lined paper, not always a good sign in administration, this is what appeared:
Dear Ms. Carla Hayden,
Good Afternoon! I don’t mean to disturb you from your busy work, but I just have to mention that this library is a very pleasant one to be in, and I’m glad that it is here. The atmosphere of the library is peaceful, quiet and calming. The library is always kept clean, too. When I have trouble at home (which I always do), I come here to get rid of my anger and worries which always turn into happiness. It’s almost as if this library is a second home to me. The majority of the librarians have a positive attitude, and always have a smile on their faces. I am glad this place has been established, and has brought joy to many people whom have association with the people of this library. I hope this library will make it around to the next century to come, and that maybe someday, I could find work in this library and be a blessing to someone else, as it has been a blessing towards me.
John A. Cherry (age 16)
11th grade (Poly)
As you can imagine I took that letter to the budget hearing and we used it as the preface for our next strategic plan. John is now serving in the Marines in the Middle East.
We represent people like John who have needs and we must prepare, perform, and persevere. We need to review the words of Patricia Schuman on advocacy, Dr. E.J. Josey on diversity, examine the efforts of people like Dr. Trejo, Jean Coleman, Augusta Baker, and A.P. Marshall. We should look at the history of OLOS, and also the caucuses, roundtables, and ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and the Washington Office and staunchly support the newest Office of Diversity.
This is on our watch. What will history say about us; what will they say we said and did during our time. We need an access agenda not just for now but the future.
We need to work to remove the labels of traditional, underserved, and even outreach. We can not continue to treat services to the previously underserved as outreach or something out of the mainstream, out there, or over there. These services, policies and practices must be integrated and mainstreamed. We need to look forward to a new tradition of serving that doesn’t need definitions that include underserved or nontraditional.
I might also add in a very inside way that we can begin the process by treating those services that way within our own association, with time, talent, and resources that reflect its importance.
We can also the recognize the power of one, that every one of us has potential also to move an access agenda forward in whatever setting or position we are in. When Nelson Mandela gave his inaugural speech after the end of apartheid in South Africa, he quoted Marianne Williamson and I’ll paraphrase:
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Remember in our power to empower others we are also a threat to some. I’m not vain enough to think that we are the only ones who see the power in empowering others. There are those who do not want others in society who they do not value to succeed, get ahead or even catch up. When libraries are first on chopping blocks when hours are cut or libraries closed, access is denied. When discussions revolve around the “fact” that everyone has computers at home so why do we need libraries, the point is being made for access denied. There are some people, some in power, who believe the pie is finite and do not, like some of us, believe in the children’s tale Stone Soup, that shows that giving means more for everyone not less for some.
We should want to be part of a continuum of caring, a part of the circle of life. We need to join forces with not only like-minded people but to work to include others who need help understanding that every person has value and potential.
We must chart our own course and not be reactionary.
We have to challenge others to come up to our standards and not try to avoid conflict, which can be uncomfortable for some. We can quietly go about the business of helping others but be very noisy about their needs.
And so even though this gathering is ending, let’s leave with a renewed commitment to sing louder and stronger, with a few new stanzas in unison and harmony. Thank you for making the dreams of opportunity of so many people from so many backgrounds your dreams.
About Carla Hayden
Dr. Carla D. Hayden is executive director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Prior to her work there, Hayden was the first deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library, an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and library services coordinator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. A graduate of Roosevelt University, Hayden earned her MA and Ph.D. degrees from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago.
Dr. Hayden is an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) and served as ALA president 2003 to 2004. She also served as chair of ALA's Committee on Accreditation and Spectrum Initiative to recruit minorities to librarianship. She is currently a member of the Boards of the Maryland African American Museum Corporation, Baltimore City Historical Society, Baltimore Reads, Goucher College, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Library, Mercy Hospital Advisory Board for the Women’s Center, PALINET, Sinai Hospital, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences.
Dr. Hayden was named one of the Women of the Year by Ms. Magazine (2003) and Librarian of the Year by Library Journal (1995). She was also named as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women from Warfield’s Business Record (1996) and The Daily Record (2003). She is the recipient of the Torch Bearer Award from the Coalition of 100 Black Women (1996), the Andrew White Medal from Loyola College (1997), the President’s Medal from the Johns Hopkins University (1998), the Pro Urbe Award from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (2004), the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award from the Greater Baltimore Urban League (2004), the YWCA Leader Award from the YWCA, Baltimore (2004), and the Barnard College Medal of Distinction (2005). She is listed in the publications Who’s Who in America, American Education, and Among African Americans. She has also received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Baltimore (2000) and Morgan State University (2001).
“Classism in the Stacks”
Classism in the Stacks: Libraries and Poverty
2005 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
ALA Council approved “Library Services for Poor People,” Policy 61, in 1990, fifteen years ago. It should enjoy the same status as the “Library Bill of Rights,” anotherALA policy that establishes norms or standards for collection development and facilities use. But it doesn’t. Unlike the immediately preceding policy on minority concerns, ALA units have never been canvassed on what they had done or would do to implement it. Hundreds of institutions have formally adopted LBR as their own policy and often frame and display it in the library itself. I know of no library that has similarly adopted and publicized the Poor People’s Policy (PPP). Indeed, only weeks ago a library board candidate in Minneapolis pointedly asked the MPL director about such an adoption. The answer: the library’s for everybody. Why focus on one particular group or demographic?
Right now, according to Worldcat, Street Spirit and Mother Warriors Voice—two outstanding vehicles for poor people’s news, opinions, graphics, and poetry—are held by exactly four and eight libraries, respectively.
Within the past year or two:
In Denver, Colorado, an advocacy group for low-income communities charged that libraries in Denver’s poorest areas are open fewer hours than those elsewhere, noting that fewer library hours contribute to learning gaps between low-income and more affluent students.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, twenty branches were slated to become “express libraries,” open only from one to five daily and staffed solely by clerks. That plan, conceived without consulting frontline staff, friends groups, or neighborhood associations, would—say critics—“underserve some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.” (As a parenthetical aside: ALA Policy 61 advocates “equity in funding adequate library services for poor people in terms of materials, facilities, & equipment.”)
Kansas CityMissouri, unveiled a new downtown library. It cost fifty million dollars to renovate a 98-year-old bank building. A Kansas City Star columnist applauded the attractive facility, but added, “It should be just as open and inviting to homeless people as the old downtown library was. People on the street had always sought shelter, read books and periodicals, used computers and napped at the old library until it closed in January�
The main branch was a midway stop for people walking from shelters east of downtown to the Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral for a free midday meal. Now the city’s neediest people may be ‘poverty profiled’ and kept from the new library. Officials also are proposing a ‘compassion campus’ near shelters to keep homeless people away from downtown’s new library and upscale condominiums and loft apartments.
The compassion campus could include a homeless day center and soup kitchen. But people I talked with were outraged by plans to limit their freedom. One homeless man said the irony is people like him would be excluded from the area they’ve helped rebuild. Homeless people often are picked up as day laborers rehabbing old buildings for new occupants.”
That same writer does an annual trek to some twenty libraries, dressed in an old army coat, black knit cap, faded jeans, and a frayed shirt. During his latest investigation, he found that “Many libraries aren’t keeping up. Branches could use some of the wealth sunk into the new downtown library. There were never enough computers. Libraries help bridge the digital divide between rich and poor. I also found,” he said, “that the downtown passers-by should be the occupants of a ‘compassion campus.’ for yet another year, they treated me badly because of how I was dressed. They need to see everyone regardless of appearance as a human being. What’s happening now adds to the misery of the homeless. ‘Anybody can become homeless,’ said Cindy Butler at the Grand Avenue Temple. ‘Everybody falls down sometimes.’ She’s right. Everyone needs kindness and warmth, especially at libraries.”
Shortly after that report, another columnist commented wryly on KCPL’s “customer behavior expectations,” brochures “handed out by library security at the entrance” and intended “to thin the new library’s down-and-out ranks.” Said the writer: “Moses needed only ten commandments. Downtown KC’s trendy new library has 33.”
In San Luis Obispo County, California, a new law explicitly bans “offensive body odor” and sleeping in the city-county library.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, a Deseret News report claims that “Especially during the day, the library is filled with the homeless, who sometimes bother other library patrons with their odor, intoxication, or noise level. And while librarians stress they don’t want to ban the homeless from the building, they also don’t want leery residents to be fearful of enjoying the city’s pristine new library.
In search of a solution, the city library system is launching a new civility campaign designed to teach the homeless, children and others how to behave while in the library.”
(As another parenthetical aside, ALA Policy 61 specifically suggests seeking advice from poor people & antipoverty advocates, as well as sensitizing staff to issues affecting poor people and to attitudinal & other barriers that hinder poor people’s use of libraries.)
To continue on the smelly theme, the Washington Times recently quoted an ALA official, who reputedly said: “Body odor is an enormous problem.” And a branch manager in Maryland allegedly confirmed: “We have trouble with poor hygiene.”
In Houston, Texas, the city council passed a series of new library regulations that prohibit “sleeping on tables, eating packaged food, using rest rooms for bathing, and ‘offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others.’” It also bans “large amounts of personal possessions.”
In Elgin, Illinois, on the four tables in the library concession room, a notice reads: “In consideration of all who may wish to use these tables, use is limited to one hour per day.” There is no 24-hour shelter where homeless people can gather in Elgin.
And in Wheeling, West Virginia, the Ohio County public library complained bitterly when an old social security building—coveted by the library for more parking space—was instead transferred to an agency that provides treatment and support for homeless people. (Federal law required that homeless support agencies get first priority on vacant federal buildings.)
As an editorial gloss to this dismal litany: how can an ala official proclaim “body odor” an enormous problem when the director of the San Luis Obispo library himself has declared: “In twelve years, I can think of less than half a dozen incidents where people smell so bad that you can’t get within ten feet of them.”? And in calculating “enormity,” isn’t homelessness itself an “enormous problem,” perhaps greater even than body odor? Why, instead of declaiming against lost parking space and people coming into the library without first stopping at the spa, hairdresser, manicurist, and couture clothing boutique—people perhaps coming with bags and maybe kids, people who may not have anyplace else to go (in Minneapolis, for instance, shelters are only allowed to open overnight), people who possibly don’t look, smell, or “behave” like us, like folks with money, like solid middle-class persons, but who nonetheless pay taxes and even work (though not earning enough to afford housing), people who often need the library not solely for sanctuary, but also for job searching, education, entertainment reading, and emailing—why aren’t poverty, homelessness, & hunger the primary objects of our wrath, our discomfort?
Lest the foregoing seem like an absolutely unmitigated tsunami of insensitivity, stereotyping, callousness, & bourgeois arrogance, here are some mitigating items:
In San Luis Obispo, a county government watchdog declared: “I think that rather than smelling bad and having no other place to go, we should look into shower facilities.” He urged supervisors to approach the issue in a “kind and compassionate” instead of a punitive way. Subsequently, Cal Poly & local community service providers announced a forum & resource workshop on homelessness to be held at the library. The Salt Lake City library director not long ago joined the mayor and a low income advocate on a panel titled “helping each other: what our homeless friends teach us.” Said the director: “Dozens of homeless people frequent the library daily. Some come to escape the heat or cold, and others to read, access e-mail or socialize. You see someone who appears to be a street person and they head for the wall street journal and you learn something. These folks are not completely disconnected, and like most people want to be left in peace.” Noting that the safety net is getting weaker, she mentioned the need for more psychological care & other services. If nothing else, she said, the homeless have taught her: “when we treat people with respect, it comes back twofold.”
Remember Houston? One city council member voted against the new, repressive rules, saying, “when we have heat waves, they encourage people, including the homeless, to go into public buildings, including libraries. What is the plan now?” And some library users criticized the prohibitions, one observing that “when you’re tired and do your work, of course you want to rest your head on the table, or you have a headache & just want to let go.” A DC Public Library spokesperson reported that “body odor is something we cannot regulate as a library.” (A judge had earlier ruled that DCPL’s “offensive body odor” policy was unconstitutional & could not be applied uniformly, stating that the smell of a heavily perfumed woman or a painter in overalls could also be considered offensive.) The DCPLer also remarked that many homeless people in the library are using computers to email family members or doing research to find jobs.
In Elgin, Illinois, a local columnist & library board member stated that homeless people have always gathered at the library, but the board has not had to address any problems due to it. “They’re there every day,” he said. “I’m there regularly and I see them reading, not just hanging out.” He continued: “Our library is made up of people from all walks of life and it’s open to everyone. That’s what a public library is all about.” (Commenting on the one-hour table limit, Michael Stoops from the National Coalition for the Homeless wondered: “If a rich person in a three-piece suit were there, would he or she be allowed to stay in the vending machine area for more than an hour?”)
So—returning to my main theme: why this pronounced failure to adopt and promote ALA’s poor people’s policy? And why the rush to further burden and even criminalize people who already have next to nothing and certainly don’t enjoy a level playing field? Why the cascading efforts to exclude them from public spaces, deny them fair access to library resources, and treat them as “problems,” as pariahs?
I don’t think there’s a single, pat answer. Rather, it seems to result from a mix of factors, among them the reality of living in a plutocracy (incidentally, not yet a Library of Congress subject heading) where money & wealth not only rule, but also determine status and social worth; the widespread, almost religious grip of the “American Dream,” that myth of unlimited mobility and opportunity & luxury; and an ingredient or aspect of the dream: Oldtime calvinist predestination, which posits a divine, a holy, basis for owning property and being rich. Poor people don’t have the dollars to make influential campaign contributions. They can’t afford memberships in politically powerful organizations. They have no access to the mainstream media, no way to tell their stories. And given the thesis of the American dream, if they’re not prosperous, it must be their own fault, hardly the consequence of bad luck, racism, sexism, disability, downsizing, outsourcing, corporate greed, union busting, or an inadequate safety net. Worse, from the deeply ingrained calvinist perspective, it’s god’s will. If they’re poor, that’s the way the deity wants it.
The hostility—or at least lack of sympathy—toward low-income people manifests in various barriers and kinds of discrimination. All together, the prejudice and what flows from it—the belief and the acts—can be called “classism”: favoring one class over another, valuing middle & upper classes more highly than people at or below the poverty level.
If librarians and others can first recognize their own attitudinal hangups, understanding what makes them view welfare mothers and homeless people, for example, unfavorably, and ultimately grasping that poverty—not poor people—is the problem, that poverty can be reduced if not ended, and that the most vulnerable and dispossessed among us are citizens & neighbors who deserve compassion, support, and respect—if we can do these things in our heads and hearts, then there’s a real chance to overcome classism.
These are a few words of poor people themselves, culled from the pages of street spirit and welfare warriors’ songs from the mamas movement:
Why Can’t We Raise our Families Up
(to the tune of "America the Beautiful")
Moms go to school to lift ourselves
Our “leaders” block our way
We’re s’posed to work and go to school
But work they give don’t pay
Why can’t we raise our families up
This scapegoating’s a lie
They blame the poor for poverty
Our “leaders” must be high
Bloated Big Business Has No Shame
(to the tune of “Old Mcdonald Had a Farm”)
Old Sam Walton had a store
Ee ay ee ay o
And in this store he robbed the poor
Ee ay ee ay o
With a low wage here, no benefits there
Part time here, and no time there
Old Sam Walton robbed the poor
Ee ay ee ay o
General Motors built some cars,
Ee ay ee ay o
Yet many workers didn’t get far
Ee ay ee ay o
With a lay-off here, and a downsize there,
Jobs gone south, the bosses don’t care
General motors built some cars
Ee ay ee ay o
Away in the Shelter
(to the tune of “Away in a Manger”)
Away in a shelter no crib and no bed
My family is homeless
Cries ring through my head
I look at my family i try to protect
Remembering home that state ignorance wrecked
It’s income we need and not “self-esteem”
Their jobs are at stake so they’re not what they seem
It costs more to feed us and house us I know
They offer us “services” but money? Hell no!
By Joan Clair
In the bookstore’s bathroom,
A woman has just washed herself and
Stoops down to get her possessions,
Enclosed in plastic garbage bags.
I don’t look at her directly, but what I see is an aura of beauty
Emanating from her face.
And the question is why?
How can the radiant sun
Be enclosed in a lotus of clouds?
A Wet One
By Michael Creedon
In the early morning light
Elmo rolls up his blanket
And climbs out of the bush
He slept under. He needs
A cup of coffee.
Elmo can see his breath
In front of his face; last night
Was a cold one. Today he has to
Try to get into the shelter.
The pain in his bones
Is getting to be too much.
He has 75 cents in his pocket
But he’ll need more than that
For a cup of coffee.
He heads up to
40th and Broadway to hit
Someone up for a quarter.
An hour later
He’s standing in front of 7-11
And he still doesn’t have
His coffee. To top things off
It’s starting to rain.
Finally a lady in a new car
Gives him a quarter,
Mostly out of embarrassment,
Now he can start his day.
It’s going to be a wet one.
Breakfast on 4th Street
By Randy Fingland
It was the usual group
Awaiting the day-olds
At the back door
To the bakery
‘cept for this new guy
Who gave us all
A lot of free advice
About sharing street bounty
Then he got the two biggest
Pastries & took off
With not so much
As a glance back.
Okay. If we finally acknowledge poor people to be human—like us—and dedicate ourselves to evening that playing field, what can we actually do? These are four or five ideas:
• Support with time & resources the agenda or shopping list developed by John Gehner for the SRRT Poverty Task Force, including an ALA-wide survey on PPP implementation; fact-finding on what libraries are actually doing to service poor people throughout the country; creation of a curriculum and toolkit to aid in humanizing and extending poor people’s services; and establishment of an online library/poverty clearinghouse for news & information, and of awards to help publicize & encourage outstanding individual & institutional efforts to seriously address poverty issues.
• As individuals or organizatioins, support antipoverty legislation like BAHA (the Bringing America Home Act), living wage laws, national health insurance, and welfare payments sufficient to sustain persons and families in dire need.
• Get local library systems to adopt and implement PPP
• Collaborate with community shelter providers, food shelf operators, affordable housing groups, welfare rights organizations, and interfaith social justice networks with respect to library programming, producing bibliographies & webliographies, stocking resources useful to poor people, and effecting local public policy changes (e.g., decriminalizing sparechanging and “camping,” and permitting shelters to remain open during daytime hours).
• Recommend authentic books, magazines, and videos for the library collection in order to provide poor people with a voice and sensitize the “comfortable” to poverty as a critical issue.
• Examine internal policies to determine whether they contribute to excluding or stigmatizing poor people: for instance, can library cards be issued on the basis of a shelter or the library’s own address? What about fines & fees? (Although they unduly discriminate against low income people, fines—especially—will continue to seem attractive, even essential, revenue sources in the absence of stable, adequate public funding. Everyone’s priority should be getting public libraries financed more generously & continuously, perhaps through the formation of special taxing districts. Once achieved, better funding might permit libraries to abandon their dependence on fines & fees.)
• Library school teachers & students can follow the stellar models of Mary Lee Bundy in Maryland, Fay Blake in California, Julie Hersberger in North Carolina, and Kathleen de la Pena McCook in Florida, researching and critiquing local library & information services, as well as intervening in public policy debates and interning with antipoverty groups and service providers.
Lastly, here are a few passages from a profile of Danette, or Dee, Cornelius, a 48-year-old homeless woman in Oakland, who sells street spirit on sidewalks to make a few bucks:
“Dee was homeless for the first time back in 1997. She had been working at various temp jobs and acquired a variety of skills, but then she had a stroke. ‘Once I had that stroke, that kind of threw me for a loop,’ she explains. Dee describes how becoming homeless changed her life. ‘What a lot of people don’t realize is that homelessness is getting a stigma. Everybody thinks that they can’t get there. You just don’t know. Some people are one or two paychecks away. When illness happens, especially if you (don’t have) medical coverage, the rent man, your landlord, does not want to hear bout (why) you can’t pay rent.’ In spite of her poor health, Dee would like to have a regular job. She has experience and marketable skills. But, as she points out, ‘when you have nowhere to stay, it’s hard to get a job because, first of all, you have to find somewhere that you’re able to have hygiene, and a telephone, and somewhere to stay and somewhere to be able to iron your clothes.’
She had a car at one time but it blew a head gasket so she couldn’t move it and eventually it was towed. ‘Once my car was towed, I wasn’t living out of that any more,’ she says ‘I really was out of luck. It’s hard. It’s hard being homeless, it really is hard. Some people think it’s a choice.’
Even standing here,’ she says, ‘I find a lot of people are nice to me, but then you’re going to have some people that act like it’s going to rub off. You don’t have to give me money. Not everybody is able to give. But, you know, the acknowledgement, the smile, the speaking, being courteous, doesn’t hurt anyone.
Because whether you give to me or not, I’m always going to tell you, ‘have a nice day,’ and they’re telling you, ‘No, not today.’ That’s because they’ve already preconceived that you’re about to ask for something so they’re not listening to what you’re actually saying. Or even saying hello, or good morning’.”
Well, it’s time for libraries to listen and to say “hello.”
About Sanford Berman
Former Head Cataloger at Hennepin County (Minn.) Libraryfrom 1973 to 1999, Berman founded the American Library Association Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT)Task Force on Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty.He received Honorary Membership status from ALA in 2004. He co-authored the 1990 ALA Policy on Library Services to Poor People and helped gestate Karen Venturella's pioneering Poor People and Library Services (McFarland, 1998).Now "unretired," Berman serves as an editorial advisor or contributor to Unabashed Librarian, Journal of Information Ethics, Counterpoise, and Multicultural Review.Locally, he's an Advisory Board member for the Tretter Collection, a University of Minnesota GLBT archive; an activist with the Edina Affordable Housing Group; and a volunteer picket during nurses', bus drivers', hospital employees', and hotel workers' strikes.He has also guest-lectured at various colleges, including the University of Illinois distance-education program, and appeared on a number of public-access cable shows. For more biographical and related details, see sanfordberman.org, a website created and managed by Madeline Douglass, and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sandy Berman But Were Afraid to Ask, edited by Chris Dodge and Jan De Sirey (McFarland, 1995).
“Answering the Call: How the FCC's Definition of Information Service Threatens the Future of Universal Service”
Answering the Call: How the FCC’s Definition of Information Service Threatens the Future of Universal Service
2004 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
By Richard Chabrán
Abstract: In the 21st century, libraries must expand its definition of “outreach” to engage in the ongoing telecommunication policy debate taking place within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Congress, state legislatures, state public utilities commissions, and the courts. However, this debate is neither well-known nor discussed within the general library community, placing itself and the general public at risk. The current trend within the FCC in redefining telephone other media services as unregulated information services, threatens to erode the nation and state’s universal service programs. The FCC’s redefinition is contrasted with the values and principles articulated in the Library Bill of Rights.
This lecture will describe the process by which an academic Latino librarian became an advocate for equity in forming California's telecommunication policy. This presentation will explore the implications of the FCC’s redefinition of information services for underserved communities and how it is in conflict with efforts to address the “digital divide.” This is a call for librarians to engage in a debate that has implications for all communities and their libraries.
About Richard Chabrán
Richard Chabrán serves as chair of the California Community Technology Policy Group (CCTPG). In this capacity, he has met with the California Legislative Internet Caucus and presented testimony to various legislative committees in an effort to define the issues surrounding the impact of the digital divide and suggest solutions. He presented on the digital divide before California's Commission on Building for the 21st Century and contributed to their report entitled Invest for California - Strategic Planning for California's Future Prosperity and Quality of Life. In 1995, Chabrán served on the California Senate Bill 600 Task Force on Telecommunications Network Infrastructure. This task force explored ways for schools, public libraries, and community centers to gain access to the new information technologies. CCTPG has helped shaped several pieces of legislation in California that support community technology, libraries, and universal service programs.
Until recently Chabrán served as the Director of the Communities for Virtual Research (CVR), Assistant Director of the Ernesto Galarza Applied Research Center, and Distinguished Librarian at the University of California, Riverside where he oversaw the UCR Community Digital Initiative (CDI). CDI, a community technology center, provides access to Riverside's low-income community, provides training with a link to employment, and serves as a technology resource to the local community. Governor Gray Davis selected CDI for California’s Technology and Innovation Award.
Mr. Chabran has worked in the area of Latino librarianship for over 25 years. He served as the Coordinator of the Chicano Studies Library, now part of the Ethnic Studies Library at UC Berkeley from 1975-1979, and also the Coordinator of the Chicano Studies Research Library at UCLA from 1979-1995. He chaired the Ad Hoc Committee on LAUC Regional Workshops on Cultural Diversity in Libraries that wrote the Many Voices of Diversity report that was accepted by LAUC in 1992. He also chaired the Working Group on Libraries and Information Resources of the SCR43 Task Force that compiled "Latinos and the University of California Libraries."
At the national level, Chabrán served on the Project Action Committee of the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Networking Project for Minority Serving Institutions (AN-MSI). AN-MSI’s goal is to assist minority-serving institutions as they develop their camps infrastructure and national connections to become full participants in the emerging Internet-based information age. He served as a member of the American Library Association’s Office of Information Technology Policy Telecommunications Subcommittee which promotes involvement in telecommunication and information technology policy matters by the library community. He served as Co-Chair of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library Service to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking Information Technology Committee that produced REFORMA's Information Technology Agenda.
In August 2000, he contributed to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universitites' (HACU) testimony to the Web-based Education Commission that was established by Congress to develop specific policy recommendations geared toward maximizing the educational promise of the Internet for pre-K, elementary, middle, secondary, and postsecondary education learners. He is contributing to the Latino Education Task Force, which is part of Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) Gigabit or Bust™ Initiative.
Finally, he serves as a project advisor to the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science Knowledge River: Spanning the Digital Divide program and on several of The Children’s Partnership’s projects including Online Content for Low-Income and Underserved Americans: The Digital Divides New Frontier, Young Americans and the Digital Future, ContentBank.org, and The Search for High-Quality Online Content for Low-Income and Underserved Communities: Evaluating and Producing What's Needed.
Chabrán has received national recognitions for his work with others. In 1991, he was named Visiting Librarian/Scholar at Michigan State University. In 1996, he was named Librarian of the Year at UCLA. In 1997 he received the UCLA Latino Alumni Association's Padrino Award and was named as one of America's most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business. In October 2001 he was the recipient of Syracuse University's School of Information Studies First 21st Century Librarian Award. He has been recognized by Cruz M. Bustamante, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of California, Congressmen Joe Baca and Ken Calvert, California State Senator Nell Soto and California Assembly member Rod Pacheco. In 2002, he was featured in Library Journal’s “Movers and Shakers”. In 2003 he was named Scholar of the year, the life time achievement award of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies and received the UCLA La Raza Graduate Student Association Appreciation Award.
Mr. Chabrán is a founder of the Chicano Database and Chicano/Latino Net (CLNet), a Latino Internet portal. He is a co-editor of Biblio-Politica: Chicano perspectives on library service in the United States (1984) and the Latino Encyclopedia (1996). He co-authored Cyber Access in the Inland Empire, which documents unequal patterns of computer ownership and Internet access. His latest article "Immigrants, Global Digital Economies, Cyber Segmentation, & Emergent Information Services," appears in Immigrant Politics and the Public Library, edited by Susan Luevano, Greenwood Press (2001). “Place Matters, Journeys through Global and Local Spaces” co-authored with Romelia Salinas will appear in Technological Visions: The Hopes and Fears that Shape New Technologies edited by Marita Sturken, Douglas Thomas, and Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Temple University Press, in March 2004.
Chabrán has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of California, Berkeley, Los Angeles, the University of La Verne, and Pitzer College and is scheduled to teach in Knowledge River in the School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona in Spring 2004. Mr. Chabrán has lectured nationally on Latino Librarianship and community technology.
Thelma H. Tate
"Unserved and Underserved Populations: Empowering People for Productivity in the 21st Century"
2003-May 20, 2005 | Global Literacy Project, Inc. | P.O. Box 228 | New Brunswick | NJ 08903-0228
Thelma H. Tate – A Tribute
Unserved and Underserved Populations: Empowering People for Productivity in the 21st Century
2003 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
By Thelma H. Tate
Abstract: Technological advances in the 21st century have refocused libraries at the center of knowledge and information literacy. As leaders and promoters of literacy development for productive citizenry through these libraries, librarians and information specialists are in key positions to play pivotal roles in the design, implementation and assessment of programs and services for underserved and unserved populations in our diverse communities. The possibilities, opportunities, and resources needed to reach out and serve members of our remote, rural and urban areas have never been greater.
However, due to the lack of adequate access to information, many citizens suffer from literacy anemia that can threaten the productive power of our communities. Consider the potentials for productivity among unserved and unserved members of our communities. The staggering statistics on the lack of service to new and non-readers, the geographically isolated, persons with disabilities, the rural and urban poor people, and all those who struggle against various types of discrimination.
To what extent are librarians maximizing options resulting from advances in information technology to build initiatives that serve underserved and unserved populations in our communities? In light of the philosophy of literacy empowerment for societal development presented in the life and work of Jean Ellen Coleman, this paper highlights research, creative ideas and models from around the world for designing, implementing, and assessing literacy programs that can effectively serve the needs of diverse populations.
By reflecting on the impact of programs and services that have resulted in more literate populations who have contributed to community-based library innovations and services, librarians and information specialists will be inspired to create new literacy initiatives that empower our diverse populations with good decision-making skills for productivity in our society.
About Thelma H. Tate
Appointed to the position of Global Outreach Services Coordinator at Rutgers University Libraries (New Brunswick, N.J.) in 1999, Thelma H. Tate develops and coordinates the implementation of the Libraries' outreach services at the local, regional, national, and international levels. She provides reference and instructional services and activities that benefit the library system and the community. As a senior member of Rutgers University Library Faculty, the Coordinator assumes a leadership role in the libraries operation, assessment of services, planning, research, and personnel actions.
Prior to her appointment to this position, Tate held three other positions of leadership at Rutgers University, including Reference Librarian, Coordinator of Bibliographic Instruction in the Women's College of Rutgers-The Mabel Smith Douglass Library, and Coordinator of Reference Services in the Mabel Smith Douglass Library. Building on the early establishment of a User Education Program by Librarian Ada English in the Douglass College in the 1930s, Thelma Tate was responsible for the reestablishment of renaissance development of the Bibliographic Instruction at the college. The results of Tate's innovative work in this area has had a lasting and ongoing impact on the development of instruction programs at the University Libraries systemwide. Prior to her work at Rutgers, Tate had served in the Chicago Public Library system and directed a kindergarten-12 grade school library.
An internationally recognized scholar in librarianship and information technology, Professor Tate has published numerous articles related to librarianship-- the latest of which was a Chapter on "African American Librarians in International Librarianship" published in the Handbook of Black Librarianship, edited by Dr. E. J. Josey and Dr. Marva Deloach, and published by Scarecrow Press, 2000. For several years, she was the editor of the Newsletter of the IFLA Round Table on Mobile Libraries (now Mobile Libraries Section). In addition, Tate has researched and presented numerous papers in professional conferences worldwide.
A distinguished leader, Tate has served as Vice President and President of the Round Table on Library Instruction (LIRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) and chaired many of its standing committees. Other capacities in which Tate has served within ALA include work on the Reference and Adult Services Division, the International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa, and the Black Caucus of ALA. For more than two decades, she has served in numerous capacities in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), including Secretary to the Round Table on Continuing Professional Education (Now Continuing Professional Education Section) and the Round Table on Mobile Libraries (now Mobile Libraries Section) where she served as its Chair from 1997-2001. A member of the 1999 ZIBF/ALA Free Pass Program and a frequent participant in the SCECSAL Conferences, the latest of which was 2000 in Namibia. As a result of her work as an international librarian, Tate has traveled widely throughout the United States and in more than twenty-five countries.
by Edward Ramsamy
Thelma H. Tate, coordinator of Global Outreach Services for the New
Brunswick Libraries of Rutgers University and former executive
member of the Center for African Studies, passed away on May 20,
2005 after a year-long battle with cancer. Thelma began her long and
dedicated career as a librarian at Douglass College in 1970 and served
in various capacities in the University library system. In 2003, she
delivered the prestigious Jean E. Coleman Outreach Lecture of the
American Library Association (ALA). This lecture series is sponsored
by the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) of the ALA
as a tribute to the work of Jean E. Coleman (the first director of
OLOS) to ensure that all citizens, particularly Native Americans and
adult learners have access to high quality library services. Thelma Tate was invited to deliver the lecture
in recognition for her own work in ensuring that disadvantaged communities have equity of access to the
tools of literacy.
At the Coleman lecture, Thelma emphasized that due to the lack of adequate access to information,
many citizens suffer from a “literacy anemia” that diminishes their productive power. This is especially
true of disadvantaged communities, Thelma noted. She went on to consider the potential for productivity
among those she called the “un-served and underserved” members of our society. How staggering her
observations were on the lack of services to new and non-readers, those who are geographically isolated,
persons with disabilities, the rural and urban poor, and all those who were struggling with various
disadvantages! Thelma dedicated the last years of her life to addressing this challenge directly. She
designed initiatives that used creative ideas from around the world to assess existing literacy programs
and to develop new ones to effectively serve the needs of diverse populations.
I had the privilege of working with Thelma Tate over the past five years for the Global Literacy Project,
or GLP as we are known. The Global Literary Project, of which I am Secretary, consists of group of
Rutgers’ faculty, staff, and students, as well as members from the surrounding community, who are
committed to addressing the fact that in spite of great technological advances of our times, much of the
world’s population still does not have access to the basic tools of literacy. For instance, Many rural
areas of the developing world do not have access to libraries or books, let alone computers or internet
access. Dr. Olubayi Olubayi, founder and President of the Global Literacy Project, started working with
Thelma since GLP’s inception in 1999 given the numerous initiatives Thelma had already taken in
expanding and promoting literacy.
So far, with Thelma’s help, GLP has been able to ship more than 2 million books to locations in Ghana,
Swaziland, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, in Africa, as well as Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.
One of our most significant donations was to the Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. As
Rutgers University was rationalizing its book collections among the various libraries, Thelma was able
to arrange for a complete set of Chemical abstracts to be donated to Jomo Kenyatta through the Global
Literacy Project. In recognition of this
contribution, Jomo Kenyatta University has
established ten full scholarships spanning the
next ten years, targeting students from poor
communities in rural Kenya.
The Thelma I knew and deeply admired was
dedicated to everything she did and she brought
that energy into GLP as well. She broadened our
scope through the networks she helped us to
build and enabled us to imagine literacy in ways
that we had not considered before. If the poet
John Donne reminded us that “no man is an
island unto himself,” Thelma showed us how
the tools of literacy can connect us to the humanity of others. Now, Thelma Tate wasn’t simply a talker.
She walked the walk too, as they say. A great part of GLP’s work involves the demanding physical labor
of packing, boxing and carrying heavy boxes of books. Whether it was mid-winter, mid-summer, rain,
wind, or shine, Thelma was always there to help us with those boxes, often putting us younger folk to
shame. She often committed her own funds for shipment and storage costs on occasions when funds
needed to be raised quickly.
On May 7, 2005 I picked up Thelma’s brother, Mr. Herman Horn, at Newark’s Penn Station. He had
just arrived after a 30 hour bus trip from Alabama to come and see his “baby sister” Thelma. By then,
Thelma had already been fighting cancer for about a year, but she was one of those people who never
burdened others with their troubles. In her suffering, it seems that she had not informed her family in
Alabama of how seriously ill she was. Therefore, a few weeks ago, after visiting her at Mulenburg
Hospital in Plainfield, Dr. Olubayi and I called Mr. Horn to urge him to come visit Thelma on behalf of
her family in Alabama. While talking with Thelma’s brother on the trip back from Newark and over the
past few of weeks, I learned more about Thelma’s life that made me admire her even more. I learned
about the challenges she faced growing up in the Jim Crow south and I learned how her rich history, her
loving family, the church, and the broader community enabled her to triumph in spite of the absurdities
of slavery, segregation, and racism. Thelma was able to draw upon her community’s support to obtain
an education and a career in the North, where she built a new life with her husband and two sons. I then
understood why literacy, education, and democracy were so important to Thelma. She exemplified
these ideals in all the outreach work she did as librarian and educator. Embodying the spirit of giving,
she gave the gift of literacy to many.
Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
By Lotsee Patterson
About Lotsee Patterson
An enrolled member of the Comanche tribe, Dr. Patterson is one of the founders of the American Indian Library Association and has served as its president.
Dr. Patterson has worked on a number of committees in various organizations. She co-chaired the Native American Pre-Conference to the 1991 White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. She has served on ALA's Council, the Committee on Accreditation, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL's) Board of Directors, and currently serves on the ALA's Office of Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) Advisory Committee.
Dr. Patterson's awards include the Oklahoma Library Association's Distinguished Service Award, the United States National Commission on Libraries and Information Science's Silver Award, the ALA Equality Award and the Beta Phi Mu award for distinguished service to education in librarianship.
Best known for her work in developing tribal libraries for the past 30 years, Dr. Patterson continues to work with tribes throughout the United States and with indigenous librarians around the globe.
Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
By Gary E. Strong
About Gary E. Strong
Gary Strong has served as the director of the Queens Borough (N.Y.) Public Library since September 1994. The Queens Library is the largest circulating library system in the country, reaching a record circulation level of 17.2 million items and 16.9 million library visits in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000.
Mr. Strong's career spans more than 30 years as a librarian and library administrator, giving him a unique perspective on the ramifications of the Information Age. He can address many of the key issues reflecting the social challenges facing public institutions now and into the next millennium, including the role of the public library in the 21st Century; adult literacy; electronic equity for equal access to information; multiculturalism and cultural diversity in a pluralistic society; intellectual freedom, privacy and censorship; funding and fundraising for public institutions; and a host of subjects relating to the knowledge explosion.
Since coming to the Queens Library, he has won the Distinguished Service Award from the Chinese-American Librarians Association (1996) and has been named to the New York State Board of Regents Advisory Council for Libraries. He serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Library Agency (METRO) and was elected treasurer of that organization in October 1996. He also serves on the IFLA Committee on Copyright and Other Legal Matters, and the Board of the section of Services to People with Disabilities. He is Co-Chief Executive Officer of the IFLA Boston 2001 NOC and serves as the IFLA Representative to the United Nations. He is an active member of INTAMEL. He has initiated International Cooperation Agreements with the National Library of China and the Shanghai Library.
Before coming to Queens, he was the State Librarian of California, the top administrative post in the California State Library system, from 1980 to 1994. He was a founder and member of the Board of Directors of the California State Library Foundation and is now a Director Emeritus of that body.
While with the California Library, he also served as the Chief Executive Officer of the California Library Services Board; Chairperson of the California Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act Board; member of the California Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act Finance Committee; Executive Director and ex-officio member of the Board of Directors of the California State Library Foundation; Chairperson of the Governor's State Literacy Collaborative Council; and member of the Family Impact Seminars Advisory Board. He started the California Literacy Campaign and the Families for Literacy Program as State Librarian.
Prior to that he spent four years with the Washington State Library system, as Deputy State Librarian (1979-1980) and Associate Director for Services (1976-1979). His career in library management has included positions as Director of the Everett (WA) Public Library, 1973-1976; Director of the Lake Oswego (OR) Public Library, 1967-1973; and Head Librarian of the Markeley Residence Library at the University of Michigan, 1966-1967. His earlier career as a librarian included service with the Latah County (ID) Free Library, 1966; and the University of Idaho Library, 1963-1966.
Among many forms of professional recognition in his career, Mr. Strong's honors include the Librarian of the Year award from the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners (1994); the John Cotton Dana award from the Library Administration and Management Association (1994); the Advancement of Literacy award from the Public Library Association (1994); and the Exceptional Achievement Award (1992) from the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies.
Throughout his career Mr. Strong has served on a number of leading policy panels, including the Government Technology Conference Advisory Board (1993-1994), for which he received the [California] Governor's Award for Exceptional Achievement, and the White House Conference on Libraries (1992).
He has served as a consultant and advisor to the Library of Congress. He is a member of the American Library Association, the New York Library Association, the Library Administration and Management Association, and Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, among other professional organizations and affiliations.
Mr. Strong is the author/editor of numerous journal articles on library and literacy issues, and in 1988 won the H.W. Wilson Periodical Award for his work on the California State Library Foundation Bulletin, which he edited from 1982 to 1994. He authored a chapter "Queens Library: Global Reach to Serve Diverse Communities" in Libraries: - Global Reach - Local Touch (published by the American Library Association, 1998).
In 1984 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Michigan, from which he earned a Master of Library Science degree (MLS) in 1967. He received a Bachelor's degree in Education (B.S. Ed.) from the University of Idaho in 1966.
Since coming to New York from California he has become active in various local organizations, including service as a member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce of the Borough of Queens; the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.; the Board of Directors of the Queens Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Flushing Cemetery Board.
Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture
By Barbara J. Ford
The Office of Literacy and Outreach Services of the American Library Association sponsored the first Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture on Monday, July 10, 2000 at 9:00 a.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Barbara J. Ford, assistant commissioner for Central Library Services at the Chicago Public Library and ALA President from 1997-98, was the lecturer.
Ford's lecture discussed the impact of outreach on library services. She was selected as the speaker because of her stature as a library leader, her dedication to providing library service to traditionally underserved populations and her unflagging interest in international librarianship.
About Barbara J. Ford
Barbara J. Ford is assistant commissioner for the Chicago Public Library's Central Library Services and former ALA President (1997-1998).
Ford's 1997-1998 ALA presidential theme, "Global Reach, Local Touch," stimulated the involvement of previously uninvolved library professionals, who welcomed the opportunity to share their local and international library outreach initiatives. Under her administration, the 1998 annual conference included hundreds of international conferees and facilitated creative global networking opportunities throughout the association.
Interestingly, as the ALA president-elect, Barbara Ford presented an award for outstanding service to Dr. Coleman at the 1996 conference in New York City. The award was presented at the 25th anniversary celebration of OLOS.
Ford is an author and frequent lecturer on library issues. She holds a master's degree in international relations from Tufts University and a master's in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
She served as president of the Association of College and Research Libraries from 1990 until 1991. She was a member of the ALA Council during the 1980's and served as both a chapter and at-large councilor. Her first involvement in ALA was as a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table action council in the 1970's.
Ford has been active in state library associations in Illinois, Texas and Virginia. She currently serves as a member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section on University and General Research Libraries. She previously served as the secretary for IFLA.