I was extremely disappointed to read Angie Manfredi’s blog post explaining her resignation from the 2018 Newbery Committee.
Some people might say that the details behind Angie’s resignation don’t matter. I believe the details do matter, and they matter a lot. In fact, it’s the details of this story that make my stomach turn.
I understand that Angie was asked to resign because she shared a story about her job as a children’s librarian on Twitter. Specifically, she shared a story about a young reader of color at her library who was excited to read a book that reflected his life and interests. Yes, Angie praised the author and publisher of the book for providing a story that connected with this young reader. This brief anecdote was widely shared as an example of the importance of diversity in children’s literature. And for this attention, for this highlighting of the need for diverse books, you determined that Angie gave the appearance of an inappropriate relationship with the author and publisher.
Shame on you. It can’t be said enough, so I’ll say it again. Shame on you.
Let’s consider all the messages that are sent by Angie’s resignation:
Celebrating diversity in children’s literature is an inappropriate activity for ALSC award committee members.
ALSC award committees are only interested in librarians who can comply with outdated procedures that silence and limit a librarian’s professional contributions.
White supremacy is the highest value in librarianship.
With your decision, you have left no room for otherness. What I mean is, how could you expect a librarian of color to want to participate in an ALSC award committee after this decision? Or a queer librarian? Or a librarian living with a disability, or a mental health issue? If they speak out publicly, in any way, about their work, their patrons, their excitement for diverse representations in children’s literature, they will be asked to resign. Because of the appearance of bias.
I hope it is has been made very clear to all of us in 2017 that there is no neutrality in librarianship. I am personally humiliated by the resignation of Angie Manfredi from the Newbery Committee because I feel it cheapens the reputation of librarians everywhere. How can we claim to support our communities when we punish librarians like Angie for doing their job, for celebrating literature, and for acknowledging the work of authors and publishers to make the world a better place?
I share the opinion with many others that Angie is one of the most valuable librarians we have working today because she actively criticizes and critiques the field of librarianship. We need more librarians like Angie Manfredi, and we need them to serve on more committees, and we need them to provide examples of how to lead.
I look forward to a public response from ALSC that acknowledges a plan to update the policy for service on awards committees to avoid situations like this in the future.
Stonewall Award Committee Member, 2018
MLS, Emporia State University, 2010
BA, Oberlin College, 2008