Magazine article American Libraries

Diversity Officer Says Farewell. (News Fronts ALA)

Magazine article American Libraries

Diversity Officer Says Farewell. (News Fronts ALA)

Article excerpt

ALA's first diversity officer, Sandra Rios Balderrama, joined the staff in January 1998 (AL, Feb. 1998, p. 63). American Libraries interviewed Balderrama a few days before her July 31 departure to find out what her tenure has meant to her.

AL: What is your definition of diversity?

SB: Diversity is the appreciation and respect for the distinct attributes, qualities, skills, histories, and experiences that we bring to a shared experience. A shared experience could be a classroom, it could be our work, and it could be our love for libraries.

It is important to have one person who's alert and in charge of coordinating the truly diverse voices that belong to the membership of all the ALA. If there isn't one person that is doing that, it's easy to go ahead and say that everything is okay and that diversity is done and over with, or that people are not really talking about it and therefore it is not a concern.

AL: What is the direction the office needs to take?

SB: The Office for Diversity and the members that support it or advocate for it strategically must ask some key questions. For example, now that we have five classes of Spectrum scholars, how do we adequately maintain and make sure the program evolves and constantly gets evaluated, and how do we measure the success? Now that we have an infrastructure, what are the next steps? Can the Office for Diversity continue to be effective at a high quality level with only two staff people? Can the office maintain and improve and expand the diversity initiatives? …

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