A Message to the Library Community

Library Journal apologizes for the pain we caused and failed to address in announcing the Library of the Year. While we stand by the award, we commit to taking the following action steps.

LJ logoTo our readers, contributors, and the library community,

Last week we announced that The Seattle Public Library is the 2020 LJ/Gale Library of the Year in recognition of its work on racial equity. Since then, we have received numerous messages from librarians, library workers, and past award-winners. Many expressed outrage and disappointment in our selection of SPL because it allowed a trans-exclusionary group to rent a library meeting room.

LJ was wrong not to describe this event and its impact in our coverage of the award. Our subsequent statement reaffirming the award did not reckon with the pain felt by members of the library community, particularly trans librarians and patrons. Our actions left many people feeling hurt, unheard, and unsafe. For that, we are truly sorry. And as editor in chief, I personally apologize.

We’ve read every comment, email, and social media post, reflecting on the various perspectives that have been shared with us. We’ve also reached out to learn more from librarians and library leaders across the profession.

While we stand by the award, we recognize the need to support the affected communities and commit to the following actions:

LJ will:

  • Launch a column focused on queer issues in libraries that centers the experiences of trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people
  • Publish an issue of LJ focused on queer and trans issues
  • Host a forum for queer and trans people in the field to share their voices and perspectives with us. (We are still figuring out the specifics of how to do this to ensure a safe space for participants, and we welcome your suggestions.)
  • Examine and refine our judging and selection process for Library of the Year and all our awards to ensure that a broader range of voices and perspectives are represented, including those of frontline workers
  • Train LJ staff on anti-trans discrimination and bias

Further, as a tangible reflection of our ongoing commitment to support the queer and trans and broader library communities, and in recognition of the work yet to be done, LJ, together with award sponsor Gale, a Cengage Company, will make a $10,000 donation to Seattle’s Gender Justice League.

To the LJ award winners who have signed the open letter asking us to revoke their awards, we honor and respect your position. We’re working on a process to confirm and annotate the profiles to show that the related award has been revoked by the recipient.

Meanwhile, please reach out to us with any additional ideas or perspectives you’d like to share. We promise to carefully consider all input.

Author Image
Meredith Schwartz


Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal.

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