After months of planning, we co-sponsored a panel on Palestinian libraries at the American Library Association (ALA) conference in Orlando, Florida June 23-28 2016. Our partner in this effort was the ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT).
The panel, “Palestinian Libraries Under Occupation” featured two prominent librarians from Palestine, Randa Kamal (director of libraries at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, and President of the Palestinian Library Association) and Diana Sayej Naser (director of the Main Library at Birzeit University in Birzeit, Palestine, and General Coordinator of the Palestinian Library and Information Consortium [PALICO]).
We first met Naser and Kamal on our 2013 trip to Palestine and were grateful for their energy, expertise, and hospitality as we sought to learn more about librarianship and scholarship in the West Bank. We met with each of them again in 2015, and when we asked if they would be interested in coming to the U.S. and speaking with American librarians, they immediately responded enthusiastically. Neither of these important figures has ever spoken at the ALA before. It was a landmark event.