It has been a long time since I’ve been to a library conference of any kind. Part of this is pandemic, and part of this is that so many conferences that I've attended have given me a surface skim of something potentially interesting, but rarely did I get that injection of something that ignited a fire in me. This morning is a story of that rare conference experience that has me fired up.
My first two sessions of my BCTLA 2022 experience have had significant crossover in concept, but with entirely different focuses. David A Robertson kicked off the conference with his keynote which brought up some wonderful ideas around representation and reconciliation. A Cree author, he spoke to the need for greater indigenous representation in fiction and separated this concept into indigenous characters and indigenous authors. It is not new that we need more indigenous authors telling indigenous stories. His personal stories of the importance of that were touching. It was interesting to hear a call for non-indigenous authors to present well researched and respectfully imagined indigenous characters in their work. Some of my favourite writing these days presents a world where truly diverse communities are the norm, and a single author cannot represent all communities that their characters come from.
I then went to Rebeca Rubio’s discussion around Curation vs Censorship. How is it that we walk that line to support our diverse communities and enact solid policies to be able to do that effectively? I feel like I’m not alone in allowing other priorities to get ahead of a collection policy review at my school. In our increasingly divisive society, challenges to books are increasing and the need for solid policy is imperative. But also, it was pointed out that a good policy makes the selection and weeding process less personal. A good policy provides a mirror to hold decisions up to and challenges to decisions are less of a personal attack. Choices to acquire or weed are made more thoughtfully and less emotionally.
I am so thankful to both David and Rebeca for reminding me of some important things, teaching me something new, and know that they have already had an impact on my space and my community.