A few weeks ago I (virtually) attended the Catholic University of America’s Bridging the Spectrum Annual Symposium.
The keynote speaker was Richard Reyes-Gavilan who is the Executive Director of the DC Public Library. He talked about the recent renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library and how they are upholding his legacy with programming, design, and something he called the Five Experiences: Jobs & Freedom, Civic Engagement, A Love of Reading, Cultural Production, Social & Racial Justice. The images he showed us of the inside of the new building were great. I remember visiting this library before the renovations and it wasn’t the most inviting place, but the new additions have really changed the whole vibe. The new stairwell, Marianne’s Cafe, and the art installation by Xenobia Bailey were three standouts for me.
The symposium lasted the whole day and I was able to watch several presentations. During the morning session there was a particular interesting talk about a program called “Absentee Ballot Day in the Library” that assisted college students who were registered elsewhere to still be able to vote. It started at American University in collaboration with Fearless Future, but they are interested in gathering other academic libraries to join in to increase their reach. Of course when Covid-19 hit, they had to pivot from having the program in person to online.
In the afternoon, the session that grabbed me the most was Social Justice and Librarianship: Diversity, Inclusion, and Ethics. It included groups from different library systems discussing how they are improving their inclusivity. One of the groups from PGCMLS addressed the gap in queer programming, while a solo librarian from the same system covered programming on Black culture and anti-racism. A group from GMU covered how to approach ethical cataloging practices, which was particularly interesting since I’m training on LC subject headings and name authority records.
Overall, it was a good symposium and I’m glad I got a chance to attend virtually.