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Common ground: librarians from five racial or cultural caucuses plan historic gathering.

LIBRARIANS OF EVERY RACE AND ETHNICITY WILL ASSEMBLE THIS FALL FOR A HISTORIC GATHERING to discuss mutual challenges and expanding opportunities. The Joint Librarians of Color will host its first-ever national conference at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas, Texas, October 11 to 15, 2006.

"Gathering at the Waters: Embracing Our Spirits, Telling Our Stories" is the theme of this extraordinary conference that will explore the role of ethnic librarians and library workers, as well as service to underserved communities across the United States.

Seven years in the planning, this conference is the result of a historic collaboration between five cosponsoring caucus associations of color: The individual caucuses are affiliates of the American Library Association (ALA) and several have had conferences of their own. In planning the Joint Librarians of Color Conference (JCLC), however, the different caucuses have pooled their efforts and resources to present a grand four-and-a-half-day event that will address their common and divergent concerns.

"Although the planning and presentation of the conference is a huge volunteer effort, surprisingly, putting it all together has not been very difficult since many members of the steering committee are leaders in their caucuses and are used to working with each other in ALA and on other committees," says Kenneth A. Yamashita, cochair of the conference steering committee.

Participating groups are the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking. All proceeds from the conference will be divided equally among the five caucuses for their scholarship endowments.

Broad Range of Topics

Conveners expect a broad audience that includes librarians and library workers, supporters of libraries, community members of color, providers of library services to communities of color, and anyone who is interested in learning more.

A welcome reception on October 11, 2006, kicks off the conference with opening speakers, pre-conferences, food and cultural entertainment. A variety of programs, workshops, panel and roundtable discussions will fill the following three-and-a-half days or the conference.

More than 125 proposals were submitted, and 50 to 100 presenters are expected to conduct programs and workshops at the conference. "The call for proposals has been very, very successful," says Yamashita.

According to Yamashita, issues to be addressed include the recruitment, retention, salaries and promotion of librarians of color, as well as for library paraprofessionals and support staff. Equally important is the matter of the acquisition of library materials that are appropriate to the communities they serve. Some other topics are staff development, gender and identity, advocacy, service delivery, legacy recognition and literature. Speakers will be from schools, academia, government and private agencies.

A Conference Bookstore

A Job Information Service with a listing of openings will no doubt, be a welcome feature of the conference. Attendees also will be able to buy books at the Conference Store where many small presses will be selling their books, alongside the larger book publishers.

An International Bazaar will feature cultural items, including clothing, jewelry, artwork, dolls and artifacts. Paul Graller of Hall-Erickson Exposition Management who is handling conference exhibits, says, "There is still plenty of exhibit space [as of BIBR presstime in November 2005], but because the hall is limited in size, we expect to sell out."

Individuals and companies still have the opportunity to exhibit, sponsor programs, host meals and events, or place an ad in the JCLC program booklet. Graller says planners would sell space probably into summer 2006, as long as it is available.

The Adam's Mark Hotel, situated in the heart of the downtown Dallas Arts and Financial District, is only 15 minutes from Love Field Airport, and 25 minutes from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The hotel was chosen because of its self-contained meeting, banquet and reception rooms, a ballroom, 1,842 deluxe guest rooms, and a friendly staff. The JCLC has negotiated affordable room rates.

Conference details were still being added and updated, so to get the most up-to-date information about the conference, including registration, fees, deadlines, presentations, sponsorship, exhibit space and advertising rates, please visit the official Web site of the 2006 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color at:

Organizers say that whether another conference of this type will be planned in the future depends on the level of success achieved with this first effort.

Mary N. Oluonye is a writer in Cleveland and a Children's Services Library Associate at the Shaker Heights Public Library.
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Author:Oluonye, Mary N.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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