March is National Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project’s slogan is “Our History is Our Strength.” The National Women’s History Project website has suggestions for planning for celebrations. Be sure to check out their website, blog, and facebook page.
Each year I complain because Women’s History is not being recognized and focused upon to the extent I desire in schools anymore. As I walk through various schools and classrooms, I seem posters for Black History Month in February put up before Martin Luther King Jr. day in January. I do not see the same number of displays for women’s history in classrooms and libraries. I’m not seeing the guest speakers and luncheons, bulletin board displays, or new book displays. I should and I should do a better job creating my own displays to focus on women’s history.
When I have suggested classes do mini-research topics on women’s history, I am met with resistance and invariably the comment “When is men’s history month?” I see this as a problem signifying that we need to do more outreach, not less. I know that the fields of teaching and librarianship have a higher percentage of females than males. This does not mean we should hesitate to address the roles of women in history – even in our own field.
The American Library Association has three major groups that focus upon the role of women – COSWL the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship, the Social Responsibilities Round Table Feminist Task Force (SRRT-FTF) and the Association of College and Research Libraries Women’s Studies Section (ACRL-WSS). I currently serve as a liaison between COSWL and the ALA Executive Board, but this post reflects only my beliefs and is not an official ALA perspective. COSWL released a press statement about National Women’s History Month.
As liaison I am able to listen in to conversations and observe the actions of COSWL. (Check out their COSWL Facebook page, subscribe to the COSWL Causes blog, and follow them on COSWL’s twitter group.) COSWL committee has greatly increased their activity this month under the leadership and advocacy of committee chair Lorna P. Peterson and ALA staffer Lorelle R. Swader.
Do you know the relevance of Jane Addams and Jella Lipman to books and librarianship? Honestly, I didn’t either. Fortunately I found a link on ALA Connect that directed me to an article on Larry T. Nix’s tribute to Women’s History called Our History is Our Strength: Theresa West Elmendorf. Larry writes the Library History Buff Blog.
From the ALA Connect post, there was a simple link to material from the March Display at the Northport-East Northport Public Library featuring two women who made a difference with Children’s Books: Jane Addams and Jella Lepman posted by Doris Gebel.
From the COSWL Cause blog I was able to read about “The Other Women of Seneca Falls.” Juliana Nykolaiszyn wrote about Oral History Collections from Oklahoma. Do you know who was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011? One person you might have heard of is Coretta Scott King.
Thanks to the COSWL Cause blog, I was able to read Librarified’s blog post discussion of Fred Lerner’s book The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age (Continuum, 2009). Has the reviewer from Library Journal responded at all? I need to find out who wrote the review and if he or she has read Gretchen Kolderup’s post. Frankly I dare you to read Gretchen’s comments and not be spitting mad at Fred Lerner!
It made me want to read Women and the Values of American Librarianship (Ide House, 1994) by Sydney Chambers and Carolynne Myall. I wish we had a newer title reflecting recent work by women in librarianship. I found a link to an edited monograph by Suzanne Hildenbrand and I have put the following title on my list to read:
Hildenbrand, Suzanne, ed. Reclaiming the American Library Past: Writing the Women In. Norwood, N.J,: Ablex, 1996. 324ρ. $59.50 (ISBN 1Ablex, 1996. 324ρ. $59.50 (ISBN 156750-233-4); paper, $24,50 (ISBN 1-56750-234-2).
Now, readers, here’s some homework for you. There have been some outstanding titles for elementary, middle, and high school readers this year that should be highlighted during Women’s History Month. Point me to them. Point out the blogs out there on women’s history this month so we can continue spreading the word. In short, get going!