Inaugural Chair’s Response to AALL Diversity & Inclusion Committee’s Queries
The AALL Diversity & Inclusion Member of the Month program highlights librarians and information professionals whose work advances the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
For February 2021, Errol Adams, Scholarly Services & Reference Librarian at Hofstra’s Law Library, was nominated for his involvement in AALL’s Black Law Librarians Caucus’ transition to a Special Interest Section and his ongoing efforts at Hofstra to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space for Black Law Librarians.
Errol Adams is the Scholarly Services & Reference Librarian at Hofstra’s Law Library. He is responsible for providing reference, instructional services, and for developing services and documentation for scholarly initiatives among other related library services. He is also on Hofstra Law’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Errol has several years of varied law library experience. His most recent at Pace Law included legal research instruction. He was also the Law Librarian at the University of The Bahamas. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Law Library Association of Greater New York’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Additionally, he is the Chair of the newly formed Black Law Librarians Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries. Errol has also written articles for journals and has written a research Guide for Guyana that is published by NYU’s GlobaLex.
What was the catalyst for transitioning the Black Law Librarians Caucus to a Special Interest Section?
There was huge need for funding to offset the down payment toward an annual meeting dinner. This has changed now as an SIS we can now accept donations with board approval and the SIS gets money from its membership dues. We can potentially create a scholarship for Black Law Librarians apart from the George A. Strait scholarship. There was a great need for adequate programming with highly qualified speakers and now we can work on these types of programs as AALL sponsors some of these programs for SISes. As an SIS we have more of a presence at AALL’s conferences and we are guaranteed a program slot that allows our members to really benefit from programing targeted to Black Law Librarians.
How will the Black Law Librarians SIS serve the needs of its members and AALL, now and in the future?
Now, BLL-SIS is working on providing programming to target the current and ongoing needs of Black Law Librarians. BLL-SIS will allow for the retention and recruitment of Black Law Librarians via potential scholarships, marketing the profession to the black community, more particularly to the Black Law Students Associations at US Law Schools.
Futuristically speaking, BLL-SIS can work on initiating an ongoing process of dismantling systemic racism allowing Black Law Librarians to have a more positive outlook and become more efficient and productive when there is more equity in salaries, etc. This SIS can increase the presence of Black Law Librarians in the law librarian profession via aggressive marketing targeting black law students and library students. Black Law Librarians will be given more recognition relative to their works and innovative contributions of Black Law Librarians. We can provide a forum or safe space for discussion of issues inclusive of everyday micro aggressions. Ultimately allowing other librarians to better understand Black Law Librarians.
Are there any initiatives or programs that you are particularly excited about?
Yes, we are working on developing a potential scholarship for Black Law Students and/or library students who have an interest in becoming law librarians. We are forming partnerships with other SISes on related programming for example:
- The PLLIP Diversity Summit
- FCIL -SIS
- The Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Do you have any advice for librarians working to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in their libraries and in AALL?
I would suggest the following:
- Obtain extensive training in workplace related diversity & inclusion (e.g. Cultural Competency, etc.).
- Ensure that there is equity in the salary structure in your respective locales.
- Encourage support staff to become law librarians.
- Ensure that your job applicants include black law librarians. If not, figure out how to make the role attractive to black law librarians.
- Engage in activity to recognize things like Black History Month.
- Recognize and congratulate Black Law Librarians for their contribution.