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Midwest Matters October 18th, 2021
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Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC)– Chelsea Misquith, Ruth Lilly Medical Library

Posted by on October 16th, 2018 Posted in: Blog, Conferences and Meetings, Funding

Thanks to the NNLM/GMR, I was able to attend the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico from September 26 – 30. JCLC is a joint initiative organized by the ethnic caucuses of the American Library Association (ALA): American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking. Historically, it has taken place every 6 years, and so I was incredibly lucky and grateful to be afforded the opportunity to attend this year.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Jones
Image Description: Session attendees standing on either side of the screen with a slide titled “Transforming Communities through Health Outreach & Programming” projected onto it.


I started JCLC off by attending the pre-conference session titled “Transforming Communities through Health Outreach and Programming”, by Lydia Collins, Christian Minter, Kelli Ham, and Jennifer Jones. During this 4-hour session, we discussed different levels of engagement and ways to conduct health outreach, and we brainstormed some solutions to common challenges to doing this work. Some key resources I learned about are:

  • NLM’s HealthReach has patient education materials in multiple languages
  • National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life has resources about physical activity and aging
  • American Libraries Association’s LibrariesTransform campaign for resources, toolkits, trends on library services backed by research and data that will be useful for library advocacy and promotion
  • MEDLINEPlus also has pet health resources!!

Special shout out to Lydia Collins for bringing the energy to the early morning 8 AM session!

I also had the opportunity to visit the University of New Mexico Library and Archives and learn a bit about their Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP). Through the INLP, Indigenous/Native students have access to a welcoming space that includes study spaces and customized instruction sessions, in addition to LibGuides specific to Indigenous/Native research and topics.


Photo Credit: Carla Bywaters
Image Description: Me, standing in front of the desk in the West Wing reading room at the University of New Mexico Library.


Ana Ndumu’s session on “Engaging and serving Black immigrant communities” was a wealth of information and knowledge as well. Through the course of her session, I learned that the biggest information-related issue affecting Black immigrant communities in the US is Information Overload. During her research on Black immigrants’ information behaviors, she found some broad themes in the answers given by her focus group participants:

  • Compliance and Advancement: The information landscape is ever-changing, so they felt like they were constantly struggling to catch up with new information.
  • Concerns over Fake News
  • Ideas of “the public”/ministries: In their home countries, people don’t generally turn to public services (universities, etc) unless in need, so “public” libraries are assumed to be working for the government. This can lead to a distrust of libraries/library programs.
  • Importance of Community
  • Decentralized Information: It can be overwhelming and confusing to have multiple options to find information about something. For example, having different procedures for applying for an official document online vs. over the phone vs. in-person.

Here are her tips on what those of us in libraries can do to cater our services towards Black immigrants:

  • Continue doing what we are doing
  • Provide life management tools – how to use apps, information resilience (giving patrons the space to let people know when they feel overwhelmed by information)
  • Remember that personal narratives matter
  • Think about strengths, not deficits – don’t just focus on “Americanizing” people
  • Stay abreast on issues affecting Black immigrants
  • Pursue partnership (not intervention) and resilience (not remediation) – work together with their existing experience/credentials
  • Recruit Black immigrants to the Library and Information Sciences (LIS) profession – may be a great second career

For more information on her research and other resources, Ana Ndumu’s toolkit is available at blackimmigrantsinlibraries.com.

One poster that really stuck out for me was the one on the Virtual Blockson project by Jasmine Clark at Temple University. She has been working to convert the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American collections into Virtual Reality (VR), and she spoke about concerns over long-term preservation and accessibility as they relate to VR.

These are just a few snippets of the wonderful initiatives that I’ve learned about through JCLC. I appreciated how Black, Indigenous/Native, and other people of color were centered during this conference, and our experiences considered valid and real and not up for debate. Special shout out to this sign, pasted by Jennifer Brown, Jennifer Ferretti, Sofia Leung, and Marisa Mendez-Brady, outside their JCLC session titled “We Here: Community Building as Self Care”, which reads-


everything being made and said in this room is rooted in believing the narratives of people of color and recognizing systemic oppression.”

Photo Credit: Jennifer A. Ferretti


Being surrounded by immensely talented people of color in LIS who’re working on innovative projects has been incredibly inspiring for me, especially as an early-career librarian of color. I’m also happy to have made some amazing new LIS friends, as well as getting the opportunity to meet up with an old one. I’m glad that I will not have to wait another 6 years for the next JCLC, as they’ve announced that it will be held in 2022 (location TBD)! I’m looking forward to it!

Chelsea Albuquerque Chair

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This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Grant Number 1UG4LM012346 with The University of Iowa.

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