PLA Member Welcome Breakfast – ALA Annual Conference Day Two

In this series, I’m hitting the highlights of the 2022 ALA Annual Conference in DC — first time in-person since 2019. And since the 2019 conference was a peak experience for me, and I was given the Allie Beth Martin Award at the Public Library Association Member Breakfast, I thought it would be fun to attend it again. (During the pandemic, the awards are on hiatus, so I didn’t get to cheer someone else getting it.)

The speaker was April Ryan, the first black woman to be a White House correspondent. She’s written The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America and Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House, and has an upcoming book, Black Women Will Save the World. Since childhood, she’s been a benefactor and supporter of the public library system.

She reminded us the story is being written right now. They’ll come to us. Be well-read in the midst of book bans.

This moment is one people will write about, and we’ll have on our shelves. Every avenue of this country, there’s a challenge. We matter in these moments. Information matters. Breaking stereotypes matters.

When no one else will, who will? Shirley Chisholm said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” It’s about owning the table.

When we get there, there’s a thing called imposter syndrome. She’s the longest serving black woman covering the White House. Groups fought for her not to be there.

We still have underserved communities. Reach back and bring them in.

What does the fight look like? It’s not just at the Supreme Court.

All the controversy and consternation is over Truth. Black women are leading. This is a moment to use critical thinking.

There’s a rollback for every advance, and the rollback is here. Where do you stand in this moment?

Truth. Stories. The Written Word. They’re all so crucial in this moment. Books are more important than they’ve ever been.

Who can we trust to give us information today? Each of us plays a part in this system. Fight for those who don’t know what’s going on.

We are the curators of this moment.

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