Leaders in the Library

Building on the Libraries Transform campaign

July 19, 2017

ALA President Jim Neal

The recent ALA Annual Conference in Chicago was an outstanding opportunity for more than 22,000 library workers, exhibitors, and students from across the US and the world to come together to network, learn, and share.

In addition to the many remarkable speakers and presentations that made the conference a rich educational experience, the work of the Association is also noteworthy:

  • The Conference Accessibility Task Force issued recommendations for accessibility improvements at upcoming conferences.
  • The Chapter Relations Communications Task Force issued a report to help improve chapter engagement with ALA.
  • A new Task Force on Sustainability was launched to help increase implementation of sustainable practices by the Association, the profession, libraries, and their communities.
  • The new class of 60 Spectrum Scholarship recipients and the 10th anniversary of the Emerging Leaders program were celebrated.

We made important progress on our four strategic directions: advocacy; information policy; professional and leadership development; and equity, diversity, and inclusion.

And at the core of our deliberations was the continued strong work of political activism at the local, state, and national levels to preserve library programs and funding and to advance information policies that support the work of our users.

The campaign celebrates the value and impact of libraries and library workers on people’s lives.

As I assume the responsibilities of ALA president for 2017–2018, I want to emphasize my core vision. We must dare to be bold, courageous, and challenging. We are virtual: engaged with our users and with our communities in ever more rigorous and effective ways. We are virtuoso: smart and always ready to learn. We are virtuous: radically collaborative, focused on a core set of values, and always working in the public interest. Now is the time for an outward view, not an inward focus.

There are important internal and external priorities in the works.

Internally, we will recruit, appoint, and develop a new ALA executive director and work with the new director of our Washington Office. We will implement a unified and coordinated presentation of our professional education programs. We will improve our technology infrastructure and systems. We will focus on member engagement and participation. We will improve communication and working relationships among ALA and its chapters, divisions, and round tables.

External issues will also be a priority. We will develop a strategy for expanded outreach to promote librarianship as a career choice for students of color. We will develop a cohort of library workers and trustees with deep information policy knowledge and the skills to work in the policy arena. We will build collaborative relationships between ALA and national libraries, associations, technology organizations, First Amendment supporters, social justice communities, and publishers. We will focus on the vitality of school libraries as fundamental to our work in all types of libraries. And we will engage the journalism community in a partnership on fighting fake news and promoting our shared interest in knowledge literacy.

The Libraries Transform campaign is our compelling and consistent message to communicate and celebrate the value and impact of libraries and library workers on people’s lives and communities. Transformation for me also means rethinking what we are, what we are doing, and how we do it. I will focus on the Leader in the Library, the influence, innovation, and solutions we provide.

Libraries make leaders, both those who work in our libraries and those who depend on our libraries. Libraries are a smart investment.


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