Although we have a rich heritage of our profession being seen as the consummate supporting profession, I see our profession as one that leads. Libraries lead, library workers lead, and library supporters lead. We lead from front lines, from the middle, and the top, and we lead in our field as well as in related fields. Our professional infrastructures (our associations) not only support us in leadership initiatives but are also out in front, identifying issues and expertise, building networks, designing and delivering content, and creating opportunities for us to step up, reach out, and speak up on behalf of ourselves and our constituents.
Our primary Association, the American Library Association, is critical to the success of the profession in general and is critical to the present and future success of libraries, library workers, and library supporters. Although the Association has always managed dozens of issues simultaneously as well as speaks to the needs of members, ALA has chosen to focus on advocacy, information policy, and professional and leadership development as the foundation of issues for the future. To that end, ALA presidents are integrating their own vision into the Association’s vision. But what must all of us do? And how am I uniquely qualified to lead our membership in working to achieve this collective vision?
We can find best practices for all types and sizes of library success; however, a number of elements must be present for libraries to be successful. Specifically, libraries must communicate who they are, what they do, and the value they bring by articulating their vision, mission, goals, and outcomes. These critical statements must then be delivered to an engaged community of constituents through advocacy and marketing programs. As ALA president, I will be committed to continuing to refine messages, expand modes and methods of delivering messages, as well as broaden discussions to ensure that the most critical issues for leadership—such as information policy, funding, and library value—are at the forefront of the design of 21st-century library messages.
Library workers lead
What makes libraries unique is the expertise within the library. And although associations often struggle with who to represent (the library? the staff?) the reality is that the perfect set of resources, the best-designed services, and the most carefully designed facilities are not a complete library picture until all professionals step up to lead in the delivery of the message of the benefit to the user and the value of the library. As ALA president, I will be committed to the design and delivery of education and to the training that is critical to library worker success in leading from all levels within the organization.
What makes libraries unique is the expertise within the library.
Library supporters lead
Although library supporters have always been valued for their commitment and service to our profession, it has never been more important than now to bring them to the center because of the expertise and targeted support they provide in supporting and in gathering support from others for both classic and contemporary initiatives. As ALA president, I want to continue to honor the contributions of supporters and stakeholders and ensure that the messages of the profession are designed for delivery for this unique group.
To lead this Association would be an honor and privilege, and to do so requires not only personal and professional competencies but, as with any good leader, requires the support of those who comprise the body of individuals both internal and external to the profession. I ask for your support.