Statement on Racism and Recent Events

Candlelight vigil for victims in Charlottesville, on the University of Virginia campus. Photo courtesy of Miguel Valladares-Llata, UVa.

The Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) condemns the worldwide propagation of fear, hatred, and terror and stands in solidarity with all who protest hate, inequity, exclusion, and racism. A cornerstone of our mission is to promote cooperative efforts that achieve equitable exchanges of information across our communities and across borders. The viewpoints espoused by U.S. white nationalist terrorists acting domestically in Charlottesville and multi-national terrorists acting in Barcelona recently are equally uninformed and odious. Neither ignorance nor hatred has any place in our organization.

As information professionals, we are dedicated to providing access to information for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin, as well as encouraging collaborative scholarly work across international borders. Any policy measure or terrorist act that hinders the exchange of resources across communities and borders, including the fear of bodily harm or discriminatory travel restrictions or bans, undermines our mission and our commitment to the promotion of intellectual growth. Let us be clear: this commitment does not obligate us to provide platforms for views that perpetuate racism, bigotry, hatred, or misinformation.

Contrary to the long-standing belief that library professionals must be neutral, we are obligated to engage diverse perspectives in environments free of violence and hate. The right to free speech is constitutionally protected in the United States, but our first obligation is to the safety and dignity of our patrons. We support intellectual discovery and creative pursuits, which sometimes include the acquisition and study of published and archival materials professing extremist ideas. However, our mission is always the promotion of understanding and our purpose is to educate and to help to avert the tragedies that can result from racism, hatred, and ignorance.

As part of the larger community of librarians and archivists, we share the concerns of the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries. We recognize the bold actions of institutions like The Loyola Marymount University Libraries, who have openly condemned the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville while distancing their organizational cultures from racist actions and messages. We stand in solidarity with them, with the families who have suffered losses in both Charlottesville and Barcelona, and with anyone who acts to secure diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM)