May 19, 2012

Laurie Borman

Transforming sounds like such a magical process. In a glittery whirlwind, Cinderella is transformed from rag-covered servant to bejeweled beauty in a ball gown. Unfortunately, transforming rarely occurs in fairy-tale fashion. It’s a process that takes time, determination, and effort by dedicated teams. Glass slippers and fairy wands are strictly optional.

In our May/June 2012 issue, American Libraries covers the possibilities for how to transform our libraries. Colleagues have found new ways to deliver services, from embedding reference librarians into local civic projects to catalogers embracing their evolution into an ever-broadening role—see “Community Reference: Making Libraries Indispensable in a New Way” by Colbe Galston, Elizabeth Kelsen Huber, Katherine Johnson, and Amy Long, and “Cataloging Then, Now, and Tomorrow” by Elise (Yi-Ling) Wong. The work begins by inviting the community—whether parents, teachers, university administrators, patrons, or the public—to the table to talk about wants and needs.

This transformational work is so important that it is the theme of this year’s ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. The work started under the direction of President Molly Raphael will continue during President-Elect Maureen Sullivan’s term when she is handed the gavel in June. You’ll find loads of programs and conversation-starter sessions at Annual to help you begin—or continue—the transformational process at your institution. Our special section gives you a preview of the conference highlights, as well as a dining guide to Anaheim and surrounds.

Elsewhere in this issue, we talk with the new Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, who in March succeeded Mary Dempsey after her 18 years at the helm. (See Newsmaker.) He, too, is working with transformational issues, like tighter budgets and increased demands for services.

While we’re working on long-range transformational plans, all of us are also having to keep an eye on the key issues, which inevitably involve e-content. This month, American Libraries offers an E-Content Digital Supplement that features interesting observations by writers, users, publishers, librarians, and booksellers, as well as articles on digital rights and the progress of ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in Anaheim in June. We’ll listen to a host of amazing speakers, learn about new and useful products, and talk transformations. And again, glass slippers are optional, but I hear the pixie dust is mandatory.


Keith Michael Fiels

On a Screen Near You

Prepare to actively participate in our first Virtual Membership Meeting June 6


Warning: You Are About to Enter the Ebook Zone

Libraries and publishers are moving into a shadowy land where everything they’ve long known is up for grabs