DPE Participates in American Library Association Annual Conference

By Michael Wasser

The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) traveled to Chicago, Illinois, to participate in the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference, adding a union voice to the gathering of nearly 20,000 library professionals. DPE Legislative and Outreach Director Michael Wasser co-chairs the AFL-CIO/ALA Labor Committee, which is comprised of union members and members of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) division of ALA. The Labor Committee works to initiate, develop, and foster a closer working relationship between the librarian and labor communities.

The Labor Committee maintained a presence at the popular ALA Annual Conference Exhibition, hosting a booth where conference attendees could learn about the committee, get the latest DPE factsheet on library professionals, and, of course, collect some union library swag.

The Labor Committee also again sponsored a program, which drew a standing room only crowd of over 50 conference attendees. This year’s program, “The New Normal: Libraries Navigate Uncertain Times,” explored how libraries rebuilt programs, services, hours, and staffing levels, and are creating new models to challenge austerity. Panelists included Kay Schwartz, director of the Flint (Mich.) Public Library and Emily Drabinski and Tamara Townsend, librarians at Long Island University, Brooklyn, and members of the Long Island University Faculty Federation.

DPE sponsors the John Sessions Memorial Award, which recognizes a library or library system that has made a significant effort to work with the labor community. This year’s award was presented at the RUSA annual achievement awards ceremony on June 25th to the East Side Freedom Library of St. Paul, Minn.

Library professionals who are members of DPE affiliated unions interested in learning more or joining the AFL-CIO/ALA Labor Committee should contact Michael Wasser.