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Moving Our Association Forward: Learning From Our Mistakes

Message from Lisa Traditi, MLA President, and Kevin Baliozian, MLA Executive Director

We acknowledge the hurt experienced by five of our Black colleagues during the JMLA editorial process. On behalf of both the MLA Board of Directors and MLA staff, we are sorry, accountable, and fully committed to making our association an inclusive and equitable place for all. Your voices matter to us, to our organization, and to our profession.

The Board of Directors, MLA staff, and JMLA Editorial Board are united in the belief that there were major problems in the editorial process. 

We appreciate the heartfelt apology from Katherine Akers, JMLA Editor-in-Chief, and thank her for her honesty and vulnerability. Katherine and the JMLA Editorial Board have the full trust and support of the MLA Board of Directors as they commit to transforming JMLA editorial leadership and processes, a journey they have already begun. The objectives detailed in the thoughtful “An Open Call for JMLA and Medical Librarianship to Support Black Colleagues” statement are aligned with those the Editorial Board will pursue. 

The MLA Board of Directors and MLA staff agree that the need for change extends well beyond this experience of our Black colleagues with JMLA. We acknowledge that there likely have been other hurtful experiences within MLA programs such as submissions to the MLA annual conference, MLAConnect, Oral Histories or Book Panel; contributions to MLA statements; and participation in caucuses, committees, and councils.

The engagement of the MLA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, established by the Board of Directors in May 2020 as one of the outcomes of the MLA Diversity and Inclusion strategic goal will be an essential part of the solution. The committee charge defines the committee as “the coordinating and advisory body that evaluates and seeks to improve MLA practices and programs as they relate to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

As we all strive towards inclusivity and diversity within MLA, misunderstandings may arise stemming from interactions among individuals who have varying levels of experience, understanding, and awareness of voices that are different than their own. We believe that surfacing issues is crucial, as doing so opens a path to learning and self-reflection in aspiring towards the higher goal of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community.

We commit to learn from recognition of our own biases. We invite everyone to engage, help each other, and not pull back. These changes will not happen overnight, they involve everyone working together, and there will be mistakes made along the way that require equal parts of patience, forgiveness, and humility. Ultimately, we all seek changes in MLA, our work spaces and communities, and our society. This is difficult, but it is the right thing to do. We hope everyone will join us in seeking to heal and move our association forward. We will hold ourselves, MLA staff, the Board of Directors, our members, and all who work with the association to high standards, provide critical professional development, and take corrective action where appropriate.

We embrace the message of  “I Am MLA, You Are MLA, We Are MLA” and invite all of you to strengthen the bonds, values, and meaning of our organization. Let’s do this together, as one MLA.

Please contact us if you have questions or ideas for how to accomplish this together.

We wish you all a healthy and successful 2021, and, hopefully, rest after what has been an exhausting year.  

Lisa Traditi, AHIP, MLA President
Kevin Baliozian, CAE, MLA Executive Director

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