In the wake of the devastating and horrible tragedy that happened this past weekend in Orlando, Florida, I have been moved by the outpouring of concern and support from our ALA members toward the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
I want to thank everyone who has contacted us with suggestions for ways to support the victims and their families and show solidarity with the people of Orlando and the GLBTQ community. ALA is working closely with divisions, offices, round tables, task forces, and members to organize meaningful remembrances, events, and activities for Annual, in addition to the comprehensive programs and sessions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion that were already planned for conference.
A safe conference is one of our top priorities. Understanding that one of the challenges of diversity, equity, and inclusion is that safety does not look the same for everyone, we have been working with the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) on strengthening security at the conference. The OCCC has a close working relationship with the Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s Office, who will be providing security services at the convention center.
There is already a strong focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion at the Orlando conference, and ALA will be making rainbow ribbons available to attendees to remember the victims of the nightclub shooting. While final details are still being confirmed, we are also planning a memorial gathering on Saturday, June 25, 8–8:30 a.m. in the OCCC Auditorium, and a special conference Read Out cosponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table and the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Once all dates, times, and locations have been confirmed, those details will be shared here on the American Libraries blog, The Scoop.
We have had numerous inquiries about holding a blood drive. As you may imagine, OneBlood in Orlando has been overwhelmed with local donations. We are in contact with them and other local blood donation providers in hopes of organizing a blood drive event during conference. We will keep you posted as we get more details.
In the meantime, please visit ALA’s Orlando Support Activities page for up-to-date information, including links to local fundraising efforts for the victims and their families. By donating through these channels, we can ensure the victims and their families receive our support as soon as possible. And if you are unable to be with us in Orlando, remember you can still make a difference in your community by donating blood locally, organizing events at your library, or by participating in ALA’s GLBT Book Month.
I take comfort in knowing that ALA members have been on the front lines in our commitment to diversity, combating ignorance and intolerance, and promoting diversity and inclusion. Our thoughts continue to be with the people of Orlando. We believe that now more than ever they need our support, and we will do what we can to help them as they begin to heal their community.