We’re living in an increasingly divided world that needs to be brought together and where intellectual freedom must be staunchly defended.
The American Library Association (ALA) and libraries are in a unique position to help, heal, and lead. We must bring more civility and critical thought into the world through kindness, empathy, and love.
Libraries are on the front line, doing an outstanding job of serving the underserved. But there is also an opportunity to bring all stakeholders closer together through engagement and advocacy. This is where ALA has the greatest opportunity to deliver significant value for members, helping with strategic engagement and advocacy.
To accomplish this, changes are due. Our rapidly evolving world outpaces the old mode of merely promoting library service and librarianship. It’s not enough to simply focus on our craft—we need new dance steps for change.
Step one: Ensure member voices are heard in updating the ALA mission so it’s focused on the future rather than focused inward. Just as a lead dancer looks in the direction that he or she plans to take a partner, ALA’s future focus will help libraries with far-reaching goals and accomplishments.
Step two: Help members gain a seat at the table by leveraging their greatest assets: kindness, empathy, and love. Everything libraries do stems from those three traits and values. These are the dance moves that businesses want to learn.
Think about how kindness, empathy, and love apply to client service, organizational culture, emotional engagement, and delivering real value. These are the tenets that attract customers, investors, and prosperity. In exchange for helping teach these dance moves, libraries can enjoy stronger alliances and advocacy for furthering their mission. This is precisely what ALA can accomplish on a national and international level. In doing so, our Association can help libraries do the same locally.
Too often, libraries may be invited to the party but not asked to dance. To turn this around, we need to make the first move by learning where the missions of other stakeholders align, turning up the music, and asking them to dance!
As president of ALA, I will implement this shoes-on-the-dance-floor strategy. I’m ready to take the lead and inspire others to do the same.
I’ll accomplish this by:
- expanding ALA training to help people employ advocacy and inclusion for themselves and their profession
- developing apprenticeship programs for real-world, on-the-job experience
- guiding others in fast-track creation and implementation of ideas
- seeking input from ALA members to explore answers to tough questions about the future of libraries
Change can happen only if we are willing to change and willing to take charge.
As ALA president, I will focus on this for the benefit of libraries everywhere.