New Orleans is a hotbed of convergences, ones so powerful that its lineage includes a dish as delightful as gumbo, a storm as destructive as Hurricane Katrina, and mansions as hauntingly beautiful as those on St. Charles Avenue. These creations were formed from the coming together of people, environments, and material culture. This conference reflects the idea of convergences and speaks directly to our field’s preparedness for increasing environmental vulnerabilities on our facilities, our readiness for the inclusion of different people and cultures in what we collect, how we perform outreach and programming, and who we select to staff and lead our repositories, and, finally, our willingness to democratize all of our materials, including but not limited to rare books, archival and digital records, films, maps, and photographs.
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL/ALA is committed to diversity in its membership, in rare books and special collections librarianship, and among users of rare books, manuscripts and special collections. RBMS encourages participation in the section by people of any race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability; it supports its members in serving the broadest possible population; and it seeks to represent the concerns and interests of rare books and special collections librarians at a variety of institutions, including academic libraries, public libraries, research libraries, special libraries, and historical societies. Some of the specific ways by which RBMS encourages diversity include: offering a scholarship program for first-time attendees at its annual conference; pairing new members with more experienced members of the section at conferences; and conducting surveys of its members and non-members, the results of which inform the section’s membership initiatives and program planning. RBMS fully supports diversity, which is identified as a Core Value in ACRL’s Strategic Plan 2005, and which is also one of the five ALA Key Action Areas defined in the ALAction 2005 planning document.