With very little comment, here are  the results of the Code of Conduct survey, which sought responses from ALA Conference attendees. I asked ten questions, referring to experiences with ALA Code of Conduct violations at conferences. The violations could occur before or after the dawn of the CoC. Responses were anonymous. I never saw anyone’s name or place of work or ALA division or any other identifying information (unless the person insisted on including it, which happened in some cases. I will not include these specifics in upcoming posts). According to Survey Monkey, I received 321 responses.

Many of the questions were taken directly from the Code of Conduct itself. Wording and phrases that some respondents described as “vague” were often cut-and-pasted from the CoC. For example, many survey-users asked for me to define “harassment”, but I deliberately used the wording from the actual CoC. I added very little embellishment or clarification. I admittedly botched questions 5+6, regarding the treatment of those who speak at ALA panels and the like. I was trying to cover every term and phrase that the CoC mentioned, but I should have approached the questions in a different manner. Sadly, once the first person answers your survey, Survey Monkey no longer allows you to edit your questions. My apologies. I did glean some good anecdotes from questions 5+6, but I won’t be sharing the statistics from those questions as they’re unhelpful and irrelevant.

For those who hadn’t seen the original survey, I will now post the questions (even my botched 5+6), followed by a series of charts (some by Survey Monkey, one by me as I try to pick out common themes in the user-submitted anecdotes).

1. Have you been harassed or intimidated at an ALA Conference? (required)
      a. Yes
      b. No
      c. No, but I have witnessed another conference attendee being harassed or intimidated.
2. If you have experienced or witnessed harassment or intimidation, what was it based on? Check all that apply. (required)
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Language
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Gender expression
  • Disability
  • Appearance
  • I haven’t experience or witnessed any harassment or intimidation
  • Other (please specify)

3. Have you experienced sexual harassment at an ALA conference? (required)

a. Yes

b. No

c. No, but I have witnessed an attendee being sexually harassed

4. If you answered yes to the above question, how did the sexual harassment manifest itself? Check all that apply.

  • Unwelcome sexual attention
  • Physical stalking
  • Virtual stalking
  • Unsolicited physical contact
  • Other (please specify)

5.  As a speaker at ALA (whether in a panel or a meeting), have you been yelled at or threatened? (Here’s the botched question. If I had asked it differently, I would have gotten some numbers that would actually be helpful. But I didn’t.)

a. Yes

b. No

c. No, but I have witnessed the above scenario

6. If you have answered yes to the above question, please describe the scenario.

7. While attending an ALA conference, if you have been harassed (sexually or otherwise), intimidated, touched against your will, threatened, stalked, or have experienced any sort of scenario that has made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, OR you have witnessed such a situation, did you report your situation to ALA staff? (Respondents could check as many as they wished)

  • Yes, but no one responded
  • Yes, and action was taken by ALA staff
  • No
  • No, but I contacted local law enforcement or an organization (a hotline or something similar)
  • No, but I confronted the harasser
  • No, but someone else confronted the harasser
  • No, because I did not know who to contact
  • No, because the situation felt unsafe
  • Other (please specify)

8. If you have experienced a situation at an ALA conference that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, but it has not been described in the above questions, please elaborate in the comment box. Answers will, of course, be kept anonymous.

9. If you have felt unsafe at an ALA conference, has it discouraged you from attending further conferences?

a. Yes

b. No

c. Other

10. What do you think the American Library Association could do to better address harassment at conferences?

And now, the numbers:






Q2 (continued)








Q7 continued



I made this chart regarding the individual responses of Q10: “What do you think the American Library Association could do to better address harassment at conferences?”:

Most of the responses fell into the “other” pile at 35.78%. Next, at 22.04%, respondents mentioned making the reporting of CoC incidents easier. Over 10% of respondents wanted there to be consequences for the actions of harassers. 6.42% talked about the need for signage about the CoC and/or a visible number to call when CoC violations occur. Nearly 12% called for security or a visible ALA staff presence (i.e., ALA staff with easily visible name-tags or the like). 2.75% thought that the presence of one or more “safe spaces” might be helpful. 6.42% mentioned having anti-harassment/harassment prevention training for ALA conference attendees. Over 3% of responses simply stated that they, nor anyone they know, have ever seen a CoC violation.

In following blog posts, I’ll explore some of the actual comments submitted by conference attendees. I will also discuss possible next steps for ALA, its members, and others who attend conferences.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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About magpielibrarian

Youth Services Librarian, Mediocre Crafter, Urban Magpie, Glitter Addict, and Worshiper of Ridiculous Outfits, Emerging Leader 2012, Former Rainbow Book List Member, and GLBT RT Director-at-Large! This is what a librarian looks like, kids.

17 responses »

  1. Great work. The amount of non reporting is saddening, infuriating, and needs to be addressed. I look forward to the rest of your results. I appreciate you doing this.

    • Thanks, Mack!
      It’s true, the majority of the people who were harassed did not report. What we have to figure out is why. I have my theories.

      • Diedre Conking says:

        I know that I am replying several months later. Oh well. I wonder what percentage of reporting there is of sexual harassment in general. I suspect that there are just basically a lot of people, no matter where they are, who do not report sexual harassment. I wish we could have higher reporting within ALA but I don’t know if we can really expect that. I guess I should have done the research before writing this but I haven’t.

        I do take this matter very seriously and am working with COSWL to see what more we might be able to do in ALA. A Code of Conduct is just a beginning.

      • Late comments are still good comments.
        Many people do not report sexual harassment, but that just means we have to work harder on all fronts.
        Thanks for your comment and thank you for your continued hard work.

  2. Jenny Levine says:

    Thanks for sharing the results, Ingrid. I’m looking forward to more discussion and your additional blog posts.

  3. […] With very little comment, here are the results of the Code of Conduct survey, which sought responses from ALA Conference attendees. I asked ten questions, referring to experiences with ALA Code of Conduct violations at …  […]

  4. […] course, at times we struggle and fail to live up to our goals. Miss Ingrid @ Magpie Librarian offers up her preliminary results from the survey on violations of ALA’s code of […]

  5. […] for codes of conduct and a discussion about what to do about harassment at professional events. Part one has numerical findings, part two has stories from respondants, and part three looks at other larger issues, like comments […]

  6. […] too darn nice for harassment to be an issue? Read Ingrid Henny Abrams’ posts about the results of her survey on code of conduct violations at […]

  7. […] report harassment, not harder —  given incidents at tech conferences, the US Congress, and ALA […]

  8. […] to report harassment, not harder —  given incidents at tech conferences, the US Congress, and ALA […]

  9. […] Abram, writer of the blog called the Magpie Librarian, conducted an ALA Code of Conduct survey of over 300 convention attendees asking whether they had experienced any form of harassment at an […]

  10. […] that, in the survey conducted by Ingrid, 16% of respondents reported sexual harassment and of this 69% reported unwanted sexual attention, […]

  11. […] people of various gender identifications have had a hard time in tech conferences and there’s some evidence that there are harrassment issues at ALA. Are there things that we could be doing to improve the […]

  12. Hey, but did you break down the “others” responses to Q1, “what was it based on?”

    It was the third highest category—and that seems high to me. Was it all over the place, or mostly one thing that wasn’t included in the preset responses?

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