ALA Presidential Candidate Kenton Oliver responds to Karen Schneider’s question on enforcing ALA policy on GLBT rights. More ALA videos at alfocus.ala.org.
Question: Question: Karen Schneider: Hi, Im Karen Schneider. I blog at freerangelibrarian.com. Ive been an ALA member since 1992. I served on ALA Council three times. And Ive served on numerous task forces, committees, interest groups, yada yada. My question to the candidates for ALA office is on policies about equal opportunity in employment.
There are at least five ALA policies that deal directly with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered issues. Policy 54.3 on equal opportunity states that, ALA is committed to the equality of opportunity for all library employees or applicants for employment regardless of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, individual life-style or national origin.
Here is my question: How far will you go to enforce these policies, and how will you explain the shortfalls between policy and implementation? While I dont expect ALA to send out a policy-compliant S.W.A.T. team, I have noticed that American Libraries accepts job ads for libraries that do not offer equal benefits to GLBT employees, nor does American Libraries distinguish among libraries that do or do not offer benefits.
Furthermore, policy 7.1.1 says that, ALA will enter into conference site contracts only with organizations and legal bodies and cities, counties, or states that do not by law discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Yet, there are only two states that have full GLBT rights.
Okay, balls in your court, Robert and Kent. Thanks for the opportunity to share, and I look forward to seeing your response.
Kent Oliver: My name is Kent Oliver, and Im a candidate for ALA president. And Im here to respond to Karen Schneiders question on ALA YouTube. And Karens question was: How far will you go to enforce the various ALA policies related to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered round table, and equal opportunity?
Karen, you and I have known each other for quite a while. And you know me well enough to know that, as ALA president, if I become aware of any policy that is not being followed, I will be asking questions to understand why it is not. And, if needed, we will refer it to a policy monitoring committee and/or council. My inclination would be, though, if it is an issue that needs to be pursued, that we pursue it within the spirit of the policy, as it is written.
I would also hope that in regard to equal employment issues that we would begin to look at our job ads and make sure that our job ads in American Libraries and other ALA publications or media will be consistent with our policies.
As far as the issues of the GLBT, I think you can be assured, based on my history, that I will support you. You know that as chairman of the Intellectual Freedom Committee that it was my honor to help reconstruct and rewrite many of the interpretations within the OIF manual. And in that manual we have many issues that are near and dear to your heart; and Ive been supportive of those issues.
I think you can rest assured that I will support any policies that relate to the GLBT, as they are written, and make sure that they are applied within their spirit. Thank you.