SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES SPECIAL INTEREST SECTION (SR-SIS) ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2016-2017
The object of the Social Responsibilities SIS shall be to act as a stimulus to the Association and its members by focusing attention on, providing a forum for discussion of, exchanging information about, and proposing resolutions on critical social issues that affect library workers as members of the profession and as members of the human family. –SR-SIS Bylaws, Article II
The SR-SIS has five standing committees: the Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners, the Standing Committee on Disability Issues, the Standing Committee on Environmental Sustainability, and the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Initiatives. Each of these committees was active this year and helped forward the mission of the SR-SIS.
After several years of discussion and the assistance of many volunteers, the SR-SIS Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues voted to change its name to the Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SCSOGI). The SR-SIS is also deep into development of an updated edition of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identities, and the Law. Dana Neacşu and David Holt are Editors-in-Chief of the publication with the substantial help from a team of volunteers working on individual topics. Two Alan Holoch Memorial Grants were distributed this year. These grants paid for the annual meeting registration fees of the recipients. The annual SCSOGI reception benefiting the Alan Holoch Memorial Grant fund was very successful, with 105 attendees and over $1,000 raised. The SCSOGI also continued its successful pronoun ribbon campaign and also distributed rainbow swag to show our support for the LGBTQI community in Texas.
The Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners continues to make minor updates to its flagship database of law libraries across the country that serve prisoners, after a major updating project was conducted in 2014. It also updated its list of law schools with programs and clinics that assist prisoners and others in the criminal justice system, and is currently working on a list of organizations across the country that focus on donating books to prisons and jails (both legal and non-legal). The Committee is also embarking on two very large and important projects – a revision of its Recommended Collections for Prison Law Libraries, spearheaded by Kimberli Kelmor, and a comprehensive survey of resources and services offered in federal and state prison law libraries.
This year the Standing Committee on Disability Issues (SCDI) focused on strategic planning, member recruitment, and raising awareness. SCDI laid out a plan for seven projects we would like to complete: community building within AALL and learning more about the accessibility of AALL’s digital presence; providing training and assistance to librarians engaging with disability services and accessibility issues within their libraries; proposing new language for the Procurement Toolkit & Code of Best Practices for Licensing Electronic Resources that is inclusive of accessibility considerations; researching and drafting a whitepaper on PDF tagging best practices; developing a web training and bibliography to assist librarians in serving patrons with mental health issues; creating a dialogue about disability issues within the social responsibility special interest section; and engaging in awareness raising activities at the AALL annual meeting. At the annual meeting this year, SCDI offered badge ribbons with the messages “#thefutureisaccessible” and “Not all disabilities are visible.” Attendees at the conference wore over two hundred and twenty-five ribbons, raising awareness for disability issues, and sparking meaningful conversation. This year SCDI recruited several new members and still requires additional membership to continue working toward all of our goals for the coming year.
The focus of the SR-SIS Committee on Environmental Sustainability over the past year has been to find ways to help AALL meet the priorities of the new Resolution on Sustainability in Law Libraries. The committee has worked with AALL offices to find ways to reduce environmental impacts of travel to/from the annual conference. AALL has offered to help the Committee market a voluntary travel offset project. This resulted in the Clean Cook Stove Offset project. In addition to climate and environmental benefits, the offset project helps lower respiratory disease and death in families in Uganda, East Africa. So far, AALL members have contributed over $1600 to this offset project. The Committee will also be providing education on sustainability. There will be a webinar in mid-August 2017 called: Law Librarians as Change Agents: Implementing Sustainability.
Our newest standing committee is the Pro Bono Initiatives Committee that was created to determine ways the SR-SIS can benefit underserved members of the public or legal professionals assisting those individuals, make proposals to the Executive Board, discover other AALL organizations that have committees on pro bono initiatives, and seek to partner with these organizations to further the mission of the SR-SIS. The Committee has begun to develop proposals and will explore partnerships in the upcoming year.
In addition to the activities and accomplishments of our standing committees, the ad hoc Committee on Bylaws has revised, updated, and streamlined the SR-SIS Bylaws. Their proposed amendments were approved by the AALL Bylaws Committee and were approved at the SR-SIS Business Meeting. As part of the Bylaws amendments, a new Executive Committee member was created: member-at-large. CJ Pipins was appointed to fill this position. The SR-SIS also ran a successful election in the spring. Jane Larrington was elected as incoming Vice-Chair/Chair Elect.
The SR again participated in the online discussion: Critical Conversations about Social Justice (5 topics, 5 days). This discussion is sponsored by four SISs: GLL-SIS, LISP-SIS, RIPS-SIS, and SR-SIS. The topic this year was “law library inclusiveness” and 2016-2017 SR-SIS Chair Stefanie Pearlman moderated the first day of discussion on behalf of the SR-SIS.
This year, an education committee was formed to evaluate potential SR-SIS sponsored programs for the AALL Annual Conference and Meeting and set up the SR-SIS area in the Exhibit Hall. The Education Committee was made up of the SR-SIS Vice-Chair, Dana Neacşu, who served as chair, the chair of each standing committee, and in-coming Vice-Chair/Chair Elect Jane Larrington. Members of this committee worked on the two programs mentioned in this report. In addition, the committee created a poster and set up the display including the poster, handouts, stickers, ribbons, and leis in the SR-SIS area of the Exhibit Hall. At the SR-SIS annual business meeting, it was announced that the education committee would have an additional charge going forward. It will be the responsibility of this committee to create guidelines for the new grant approved by the Executive Committee and select annual recipients. This grant is intended to provide financing (up to $500) for educational materials or programs on topics within the SR-SIS mission.
Michael Ginsborg, Stacy Etheredge, and Sara Pic have been hard at work on crafting a resolution for consideration by AALL on diversity and inclusion. They hope to finish their work before the next AALL Annual Meeting and Conference.
The SR-SIS continues to be an active participant and strong presence at the AALL Annual Meetings. SCSOGI 2016-2017 chair Sara Pic coordinated and SR-SIS 2017-2018 vice-chair/chair-elect Jane Larrington presented at a panel discussion at the AALL conference in Austin on Meeting the Legal Information Needs of Transgender Library Patrons: Research Findings, Legal Issues, and Cataloging Challenges, 2017-2018 SR-SIS Chair Dana Neacşu coordinated and moderated Social Justice in Law Libraries: #lawlibraries respond to real life crises, and 2016-2017 SR-SIS Chair Stefanie Pearlman moderated the annual SR/LISP/GLL Joint Roundtable on Law Library Services to Prisoners and Pro Se Patrons.
The Annual Children’s Book Drive, chaired by Megan Von Behren, was an extraordinary success, collecting 200-300 books and collecting/donating $1000 in cash for BookSpring in Austin. Meg Butler ran another amazing Toiletries Drive, which benefitted Casa Marianella, an emergency homeless shelter in Austin for recently arrived immigrants and asylum seekers. SR-SIS also created signs for the Austin Convention Center bathrooms to oppose discriminatory legislation preventing transgender people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
SR-SIS Chair, 2016-2017
*This report was prepared with the assistance of the Chairs of the Standing Committees.