As I complete my year as American Library Association (ALA) president, I am honored to know that together we moved the needle in key areas that affect our Association, profession, libraries, and the communities we serve.
During this time, I treasured the opportunity of being the first Puerto Rican American and second-youngest ALA president in the organization’s 143-year history. I have loved representing ALA nationally and internationally and collaborating with a talented Executive Board.
Over the past year, ALA has helped secure funding for libraries to keep them open, equipped, and staffed. We have advocated for myriad public policies to benefit our communities. We established strategies to review our governance structure and search for the Association’s next executive director.
Thanks to my brilliant advisory board and the amazing ALA staff, we brought the following efforts to fruition:
Advocacy: We created comprehensive resources for advocacy to become a one-stop clearinghouse. We developed videos to help libraries use the power of storytelling to impact advocacy, with additional resources on digital storytelling. And the #MyLibraryMyStory campaign successfully allowed advocates to share their libraries’ stories during National Library Week.
Wellness: The ALA–Allied Professional Association Wellness website for library workers was revamped with new content. Its page on emotional wellness will soon contain a series of webinars that offer strategies for people experiencing microaggressions and workplace stress. A task force on safety and workplace well-being in libraries has been established. ALA-APA has partnered with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine to present courses. And the inaugural ALA Presidential Citation for Wellness in the Workplace will recognize wellness efforts by libraries.
International: Last fall we created the I Am ALA International Spotlight to help acknowledge ALA’s 1,700 international members. At conferences, we have exhibited the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ Library Map of the World to promote global exchanges. We presented webinars and partnered with the UN’s Dag Hammarskjöld Library for an event about sustainable development goals.
Diversity: To support the work of ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services, we developed videos to deepen understanding of the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in our nation’s libraries. At conferences, my programs have reflected EDI themes. A new EDI fellows program is forthcoming, as is a statement from ALA and other US library associations that will reaffirm our commitment to EDI.
Library Tour: Under the Libraries = Strong Communities campaign, our advocacy efforts took us to academic, public, and school libraries in the nation’s capital as well as six states. Elected officials, community organizations, state librarians, and presidents of library associations spoke at these events. We created a toolkit that contains news coverage, checklists, social media, and graphics templates, along with new “Because” statements that highlight the value of libraries and empower patrons to advocate on their behalf.
My main takeaway from this past year? ALA is its members. My call to each library worker is to continue working with ALA leadership and staff to better our Association, profession, and the communities we serve. We are in this together!