Welcome to the ACRL Washington conference planning blog! The board decided to initiate this blog as a space to report out on our decisions for planning the 2019 ACRL PNW Joint Fall Conference. While this is a relatively small conference with many returning members, we are hoping to make some changes to this year's conference that are in-line with our values in creating anti-oppressive spaces and programming. In order to do this, we would like to be as transparent as possible in letting our members know how and why decisions are made.
Our conference theme this year is Whiteness and Racism in Academic Libraries: Dismantling Structures of Oppression. I proposed this theme as the conference chair, and after multiple brainstorming documents and conversations, got approval from the entire board to move forward with this theme. We read through feedback from the 2018 Joint Fall Conference at Menucha that asked for more programming around racial justice. My intent in proposing this particular theme is to highlight and explicitly name the cultures of whiteness that happen in academic libraries, and to share, brainstorm and create practices that dismantle racialized power and oppression in our libraries.
While the board has agreed on general theme, we were not unanimous on the naming of the conference. There were concerns that naming whiteness and racism, instead of a more general focus of equity and diversity, is confrontational and may turn some members away from attendance, or may limit the ability for members to contribute meaningfully when the call for proposals goes out. Some suggestions for alternate themes included critical librarianship, unpacking privilege and disrupting power and privilege.
I ultimately made the final decision to be explicit in naming racism and whiteness very clearly in our conference title. My experience in libraries is that when we talk broadly of equity, diversity and inclusion, we move away from having challenging conversations on racism and our whiteness as a professional norm. This naming is an effort to keep these conversations centered. We will strive for intersectional approaches to this theme in our programming, and hope for wide participation from all of you.
Please reach out to me or any board member if you have comments, questions or concerns. Save the date for the conference and look out for a call for proposals coming soon!
Reed Garber-Pearson, ACRL WA President and Conference Chair
ACRL WA Joint Fall Conference
October 24-25, 2019
Pack Forest Conference Center, Eatonville WA