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On Traveling to US Conferences

March 2, 2017

Last year, a few of us in the Libraries were proud that our proposal was accepted to host an international gathering this June--the 9th Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice conference (EBLIP9).  The honor was bestowed upon us after John Wiggins, Director for Services and Quality Improvement; Jenny Lee, former communications manager; and I prepared a competitive proposal featuring Drexel University and the city of Philadelphia as welcoming hosts of the meeting.  This will be only the second time the biennial conference is held in the United States, following successful meetings in Queensland, Australia; Saskatoon, Canada; and Manchester, UK, among others.

This past month, we learned that one keynote speaker and four presenters of refereed papers have decided not to cross the US border to attend the conference due to concerns with the recent executive order that limits entry into the United States for travelers from seven countries.  As the co-chairs of the EBLIP9 Local Organizing Committee, John and I felt it necessary to join a discussion of these reactions.  I share here an excerpt from a message we have posted to the conference website:

We understand the moral dilemma some people face and their need to take action to express their frustration with the travel ban. We believe that abstaining from attending this academic conference ultimately limits opportunities for the free exchange of ideas and global professional networking. The importance of joining together and engaging in critical discussions about evidence-based practices for librarians and others around the world today cannot be stressed enough.

sanctuary city of Philadelphia and Drexel University, both are long committed to diversity and inclusion. Although we are concerned about the impact of the executive order, we will continue to diligently organize a robust on-site conference to provide a safe and open venue for the free exchange of ideas and scholarly research. We welcome delegates from all parts of the world to Philadelphia - including people from the countries named in the executive order - and we urge members of the international library and Information science community as well as fellow Americans to attend EBLIP9 this summer.

Regardless of one's reaction to the travel ban, we hope academics and others who support the pursuit of fact-based evidence and new knowledge will continue to travel and to demonstrate the vitality of in-person open exchange of ideas. 

Danuta Nitecki
Dean of Libraries