Rolling with the Punches

May 14, 2010

I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been hurt by this economic debacle that seems to be turning the entire country on its head—any number of countries, in fact. At the American Library Association, we’ve been hit just like everybody else. It is tempting to do a lot of hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing because it seems as if nothing will ever be the same. But honestly, when has anything ever been the same? And we have to ask ourselves, “The same as what?”

When expenses exceed revenue something has got to give, but after it does, forward is the only viable direction. It’s hard to argue otherwise. Responsible employers have to reorganize and adjust during these difficult times. Of course, everybody is learning on the fly these days. Many managers at ALA, including me, have never lived through an economic situation as serious as the one we face today. In the round of staff reductions that occurred at ALA in May, eight positions were regretfully eliminated (following the elimination of 10 last year). Among them was a senior editor at American Libraries, a post occupied by Gordon Flagg, who had been with AL since 1982.

Moving forward as ALA Publishing reorganizes, our top priority is to continue to deliver the professional content that library professionals need and want, when they need it most. Part of our plan for reorganization involves the shift to web-first publishing, which we undertook in January. In 2011 we will be moving to six bimonthly print issues of AL, which will contain as much to read as ever but will be less costly to produce and mail. In addition, we are planning to lower the institutional subscription rate. We will continue to produce quarterly digital supplements that will be delivered electronically, and, of course, the AL Direct e-newsletter will fly into your e-mailbox every week.

Meanwhile, the June-July issue features “10 Tips for Tracking Trends,” in which Elisabeth Doucett previews her forthcoming book from ALA Editions with advice on how to stay relevant by riding the ever-changing wave of social trends.

In “Build Your Own Instructional Literacy,” Char Booth shares ideas about how librarians can acquire teaching skills on the cheap, and with libraries bulging with patrons trying to learn new skills to increase their chances on the job market, the time is right. And in "The Myth of Browsing," Donald Barclay takes a fresh look at academic library space in the age of Facebook.

In “Trends | Perspectives,” Pat Eschmann of the Wisconsin Library Foundation explains how libraries in her state created the “Say Cheese!” library snapshot day around her state’s iconic dairy product, and Alan S. Inouye of the ALA Washington Office explains the urgent need for the National Broadband Plan.

And in “Mastering Moderation” Steven Bell talks about how to be a good moderator, a skill that will be on display in Washington D. C. in June during  ALA’s Annual Conference; check out our preview and restaurant guide. Nearly all the content in the June-July issue is, of course, available at


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One librarian’s love-hate relationship