The second thing people say when they hear I’m running for ALA president (after “yay!” or “really?”) is “why?” Why am I running, and, more pointedly, why me? Fair questions.
One of the president’s most important roles is to tell our story, to be the voice of libraries, librarians, and librarianship to the world. The importance and significance of what we do has to be articulated every day by every library, and by ALA as well.
Moreover, we need to make the case that our work isn’t just “nice” or “handy” or worse yet a “luxury.” We are critical infrastructure in all our myriad settings. In increasingly data-intensive research and academic environments, as a technological and communal hub, as a gateway for new members of a community, as a significant leg up for learners of all ages, for the vocabulary and reading development of young people, as a strategic advantage for organizations and institutions of all stripes, getting the right book in the right hands at the right moment. We belong, we are vital, we are necessary, in all those spaces and so many more.
I’m a storyteller by nature, and I’m eager for the opportunity to spread the word and engage people around this story.
Let me suggest a yet deeper aspect of “why” afoot: why our work continues to be relevant and essential in a world where traditional models of creation, publication, and distribution jostle with newer ones. We must rethink, reinvigorate, and restate our why—our rationale for being—above and beyond the familiar.
We enhance each stage of the cycle of knowledge: supporting creation; assessing and collecting and organizing those works; preserving and managing the resources in our care; helping people to search and find and use, all while fighting for equality of access and the freedom to read and think. For insight, for understanding, for enjoyment, for solace, for discovery, and a million other reasons.
Making our work even more powerful and important means finding the right mix of tradition and innovation.
Making our work even more powerful and important means finding the right mix of tradition and innovation, exploring new ideas, and perhaps discarding some old ones. Embracing a future where librarianship contends both with information forever tethered to publishers through DRM or Draconian licensing terms and with freely available, open-source content desperately seeking eyes and ears.
I’ve spent my entire career asking hard questions and helping people to devise and assess creative solutions. I’d love the chance to lead and contribute to discussion on the way forward for libraries and librarianship, articulating and highlighting great ideas from throughout the profession.
From my first day behind the desk at the Oneida (N.Y.) Public Library, working beside my mom, it felt right. I learned a lot there, and I’m still learning from colleagues, friends, and my students. I love this profession and what we do every day to make our communities, organizations, and the wider world better. My husband Terry and I are excited and ready for this; it would be a privilege to give back by serving as your president, and I would very much appreciate your vote.
Read statements from the other three candidates: