Emily DrabinskiI am Interim Chief Librarian at the Mina Rees Library at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

My research interests include critical approaches to information literacy instruction, gender and sexuality in librarianship, and the intersections of power and library systems and structures. I am series editor for Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies from Library Juice Press/Litwin Books and sit on the board of Radical Teacher. 

I can be reached at edrabinski [at] gc [dot] cuny [dot] edu.

Decades of disinvestment in public institutions coupled with deep inequalities at the core of our profession have left our libraries without the resources necessary to advance our common mission of providing access to information in all its forms to everyone in our communities. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the essential place of libraries has made itself known, as has the urgent need to restore the resources necessary for libraries to fulfill their core missions. The American Library Association must advocate for what we need most: reinvestment in schools, libraries, and communities, economic and racial justice for library workers and the communities in which we live and work, environmental sustainability, and collaboration and cooperation beyond our borders.

I have spent twenty years in the field in jobs ranging from looseleaf legal filer to library director and most jobs in between. These experiences shape my commitments to public life and the public good and the place of libraries in both. The American Library Association has the power to shape national and international agendas for libraries of all kinds. If elected, the following priorities will guide my work with and on behalf of all of us.

Equity as action. Social and economic justice and racial equity requires that we make a material difference in the lives of library workers and patrons who have for too long been denied power and opportunity on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, national origin, spoken language, and disability. As ALA president, I will direct resources and opportunities to a diverse cross section of the association and advance a public agenda that puts organizing for justice at the center of library work.

A Green New Deal for libraries. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other consequences of climate change threaten libraries, library workers, and library publics around the world. We must build on recent association work in this area and connect to broader public legislation in order to preserve libraries and communities for an uncertain future.

International connections. The problems facing us are faced by colleagues outside our borders, many of whom have been working on these issues for years, and whose innovative ideas and strategies can serve as models for our own. And we must contend with the dominance of North American and European publishers and vendors that restrict access and audience for readers and researchers around the world. Learning from each other is important, but our solutions must be international too. As ALA president, I will develop and share a global vision of librarianship in which international cooperation and exchange are central to equity and justice.

Public infrastructure for public goods. Consolidation in the library vendor landscape has led many of us to rely on a dwindling number of high-cost publishers and platforms for everything from selection and acquisition to description, circulation and preservation. Under-resourced libraries in rural and international contexts face even steeper barriers to access. As ALA president I will lead a public conversation about the implications of corporate control of core library functions and work with interested members to develop strategies for pushing back.

Collective organizing for collective power. From organized attacks on library funding to attempts to ban books to state bans on what can and can’t be taught in the classroom, all of us face pressures that get in the way of our core missions. As ALA president I will bring an organizing approach to association leadership, getting us talking with each other as we collectively develop a national campaign for libraries. Remember: there are more of us than there are of them, especially when we work together.