by C. A. Gardner and Cy Dillon
This issue arose from a set of fortuitous circumstances. Last year, I attended several of the multicultural programs at the Newport News Public Library System (p. 7). There I had the good luck to connect with poet Luisa A. Igloria, who not only agreed to an interview (p. 10), but provided helpful resources for exploring Filipino-American literature (p. 21). When Caroline Fitzpierce and Denise Morgan sent us an article about conversation groups for immigrants (p. 23), I realized that all three items might fit together in an issue that would examine the many ways in which libraries can support the needs of a wide variety of groups, providing solutions for patrons whose experiences are not covered by standard offerings for white, mainstream America — those who might otherwise feel marginalized or excluded for reasons of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, socioeconomic status, or other factors.
We hoped that the subject would spark much interest, and we were not disappointed. Soon the articles began pouring in, covering everything from collection development to new training programs for patrons (p. 34) and staff (p. 36), community involvement and collaboration (p. 4), needs assessments, special events and staff diversification (p. 41), and more. Some articles celebrate successful achievements, providing details for duplication; others serve as a call to arms, documenting where our service has failed. In these pages, often-invisible patron groups such as the undocumented (p. 26) and the GLBT community (p. 45) find a voice. Through all their variety, these articles provide strong examples of how to take a more active role in service to our communities.
The news of late has proven just how apropos these subjects are. Witness the recent Day without Immigrants boycott on May 1, the current debate over immigration in the U.S. Congress, or the ongoing conflict over gay marriage, with the concomitant questions it raises about gay rights. With these and many similar events, it's no surprise that the subject of multiculturalism in libraries strikes a chord. And seeking to serve our diverse patrons better is also to our own advantage. As Ann Friedman points out (p. 31), this new paradigm of service can help libraries succeed both in the quest for continued funding and in the effort to become more relevant to our changing communities in the twenty-first century.
VLA's Multicultural Forum is currently working on an initiative that dovetails perfectly with this issue. Beverly Abdus-Sabur (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Lena Gonzalez Berrios (email@example.com) are organizing a resource toolkit that will be available in print and on VLA's website in January 2007. They're looking for submissions that document solutions, strategies, programming ideas, and resources for serving diverse populations. The deadline for contributions to the toolkit is September 30, 2006.
We'd like to take a moment to thank to Gloria C. Harvell of the Virginia State University Library for detecting errors in the list of VLA life members from our centennial keepsake edition (vol. 51, no. 3) — and apologize to Sarah Wallace, Florence Chandler, and Catherine Vaughn Bland for failing to list their library affiliations. Jon Marken, our remarkable graphic designer, has been able to produce a corrected insert that will be mailed with this issue. This four-page section can replace the complete original gathering.
Speaking of updates for a new era, according to the staff of Virginia Tech's Digital Library and Archive, the online version of Virginia Libraries was accessed 254,060 times in 2003, the last year for which statistics are currently available. Since that time, acceptance into the Directory of Open Access Journals has given Virginia Libraries an international presence that is sure to result in even more use in the future.
In keeping with our increased visibility as well as changes in technology, we've updated our contributor's guidelines (p. 20) and "About Virginia Libraries" (inside back cover). We hope you will review them and consider contributing to your association's journal. As always, we welcome your insights into current issues that face libraries in Virginia. Show us how your library is expanding services, increasing access to collections, or coping with new challenges! Photographs and illustrations are especially welcome.
To encourage more contributions to the summer issue, we've extended the deadline to June 30. The deadline for the fall issue remains September 15. We'd love to hear from you.