Diverse Views and Discussions in Library Programs

NYLA 2021 Social Responsibilities and Libraries Speaker Series

Part of ALA’s core value of Social Responsibility lies in helping inform and educate the public in addressing critical problems in society, and encouraging them to examine the facts of, and many different views on, these problems. This panel will discuss successful initiatives taken with public library programming, partnerships with local schools, and an academic library One Read program, to help you learn how you can bring similar programs to your library. Come with questions on how you can create engaging and enlightening discussions at your library, from hosting them yourselves to allying with your local school, community volunteers, or committee at your academic institution.


Alexander Andrasik, Adult Services Librarian, Penn Yan Public Library

Alex Andrasik is the adult services librarian at Penn Yan Public Library in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  Alongside professional interests and responsibilities that include technology instruction, pop culture programming, and sustainability, he strives to incorporate racial justice and equity education into the library’s offerings.  PYPL’s efforts in this area are very much a work in progress, but represent an essential aspect of library service in every community, including rural places like the Finger Lakes.

Heather M. Cook Volunteer Circle Keeper/Facilitator, Penn Yan Public Library

Heather M. Cook (she/her/hers, White) lives on the unceded homeland of the Onöndowa’ga:’ /Seneca people of the Hodinöhsö:ni’ / Haudenosaunee Confederacy in the Seneca Lake watershed, in what is commonly called the Finger Lakes area of New York State. With a background in conflict transformation and circle processes, she works as a facilitator and trainer at Partners for Restorative Initiatives (PiRI) in Rochester, NY.  She stumbles her way through trying to become less racist, and seeks to do that work in community, and to take risks for the liberation of all beings.

Rosemary Farrell Senior Librarian, Programs & Engagement, The Nyack Library

Rosemary Farrell is the Senior Librarian for Programming and Community Engagement at Nyack Library in the Lower Hudson Valley where she has worked for over ten years in various departments and lived for the past eighteen. She works with her colleagues in Adult Services to offer a robust calendar of programs encompassing an array of topics from personal finance, health, politics and social justice, to trivia, local history, the arts and sustainability.The Nyack Library strives to work with other community organizations to provide materials and services to our diverse population.

Arielle Hessler Emerging Technologies Librarian, John Jermain Memorial Library

Arielle Hessler is the Emerging Technologies Librarian at John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, NY. In addition to researching and implementing new technologies at her library, she runs programs from monthly trivia and game nights, to serious discussions such as a Film Club that tackles assumptions on race and culture. Her library also partners with the local school for a parent/teen program called Tough Topics, and an annual program called The Wagner Dialogues that invites panelists with diverse political, religious, or cultural viewpoints to speak with the community. 

Charlene V. Martoni Student Workforce Supervisor, University at Albany Libraries

Charlene Martoni is the Access Services Student Workforce Supervisor at the University at Albany Libraries. In addition to motivating and mentoring student employees and full-time staff, Charlene participates on the Libraries’ newly reinstated DEI Climate Committee. By adapting a workflow she had developed while chairing a One Read committee in New Paltz, NY, Charlene collaborated with her new colleagues at the University at Albany to trial a library-wide One Read of So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Charlene will share insights, strategies, and survey data to help participants prepare to facilitate book discussions with colleagues on topics ranging from race and culture to ability status and gender identity.

Lora Tucker Volunteer & Discussion Moderator, John Jermain Memorial Library

Lora René Tucker is Brooklyn born and Brooklyn Public Library raised.  Ms.Tucker’s career reflects over 30 years of racial and social justice activism; creating and teaching antiracism, diversity, and cultural empowerment. Lora, now living in Sag Harbor, recently facilitated John Jermain Library’s Film Club for Black History month, and its joint “Tough Topics” events with the Sag Harbor school district’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Lora is an active member and facilitator of Racial Justice East End, and presently facilitates poetry therapy workshops at Stonybrook/Southampton Hospital’s Wellness Institute. She published “Writes of Passage” and now writes about the “-isms” we endure. She is studying for her MFA at Stonybrook University, receiving an award for returning to academia at the age of 60 (And in the middle of a pandemic!)