AMC otherwise known as the Allied Media Conference, is the first conference I have been to whose focus is not libraries and/or education. The conference focuses on media-based organizing and change-making. Therefore the audience included a myriad and diverse community of people using media to incite change, including but not limited to, filmmakers, radio producers, technologists, youth organizers, writers, and artists. The conference was split into different tracks around radical change and community organizing. My panel “Librarians of Color Survival Guide: Truth and Self-Care” fell onto the “Radical Librarianship” track and discussed the various oppressive structures in place for librarians of color, and the mental and physical effects of these structures. The panel also talked about ways to engage in self-care practices and other techniques needed to prevent burnout, and acculturate into often toxic work environments while keeping an authentic voice.
AMC was a deeply fulfilling experience. Because the audience was mixed, librarians were able to engage directly with community organizers. Because the community organizers worked directly with their communities, the networking and collaborations of the groups allowed for direct and strategic plans for improvement within said communities. It was a change from most conferences I have been to and a refreshing one at that. For the most part, those conferences are librarians speaking to other librarians. The discussions at these conferences are about library communities without any actual community members in the audience. Consequently, there is a risk at library conferences of espoused values of librarians to differ from the values in action during the day to day. Additionally, the values of the library staff may begin to differ from that of the library community. I enjoyed seeing fewer barriers between the community and the librarians at AMC.
One of my favorite sessions on the Radical Librarianship track, Archiving our Stories: Narratives of LGBTQ API Organizing, discussed the erasure of both Asian and Pacific Islander (API) and LGBTQ stories from most mainstream archives, and suggested various methods in capturing and create powerful oral histories grounded in action as a measure to counteract that. Another session, Restorative Practices in Libraries, discussed how using practices of restorative justice can promote a participatory culture of civic engagement through the restructuring of program formats, staffing structures, and policies. While the focus of the session was public libraries, I learned strategies that could be transferred to higher education.
Outside of the Radical Librarianship track, my scholarly and personal interests of social justice and community organizing aligned with the focus of the conference. For example, Designing Games for Social Justice, aligned with my rotation in the Digital Scholarship where I created my own game using Twine demonstrating the accumulative effects of microaggressions on the physical and mental state. It was great to see other games being created for social justice and discuss how games and gaming can be use for change. And Teaching Freedom in Our Classrooms, aligned with my previous work as a K-12 librarian and bringing social justice and decolonization into the classroom. As some of the teachers leading the session were from Detroit (where the conference took place), it was especially powerful to hear their work and ideas.
Overall, Allied Media Conference is one I would recommend to any librarians interested in radical and critical librarianship, community organizing, and social justice.