As I look back on our year together, I remain inspired and encouraged by our brave communities. Despite the obstacles we face, libraries remain valued, trusted institutions. I know this because libraries are constantly evolving places, and our workers stand up to the test of constant change, ensuring our communities have access to information, the freedom to read, and a love of lifelong learning, now and for years to come.
As I contemplate the future of libraries, I am reminded of adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy. In the chapter “Intentional Adaptation: How We Change,” she describes the need to be an active participant in change—to not resist but embrace it—and to be as intentional as possible during the process while being in community with one another. Brown reminds us that we cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for it and approach change with excitement to help ensure that our communities grow.
When I decided in summer 2020 to run for ALA president, we were in the beginning stages of a global pandemic and seeing worldwide protests over the murder of George Floyd and affirmations that Black Lives Matter. I did not know what my presidency would hold.
I did not know that my presidential year would be consumed with a record number of book challenges across the country by an organized, vocal minority trying to strip our society of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC voices.
I could not have predicted how a divided country would turn its focus on libraries to erode trust in essential institutions. Yet despite this lack of certainty, I prepared myself for making intentional leadership choices every step of the way during my term.
Together, ALA members focused on a proactive response to the challenges our libraries face. We modernized our Association with a historic bylaws revision that was years in the making. We laid the groundwork for members to effectively use the ALA–Allied Professional Association, a companion organization that provides library workers with the tools and resources they need to work in safe, inclusive, and equitable environments. We showed what it looked like to be “all in” on intellectual freedom and library workers.
These successes were in addition to the everyday work of our Association to support library workers with professional development opportunities, programs, and more.
Together, we have done a lot this year. And through initiatives like Unite Against Book Bans, we will continue to support our colleagues who are experiencing challenges and adversity. We will continue to galvanize our friends, family, and communities to stand with us in solidarity, speak loudly, and take action to save the freedom to read.
I have met many library workers and advocates who do this work every day in their communities. We will succeed because we are passionate about our core values and our libraries. We will succeed because we firmly know that free people read freely.
And I know we will succeed because, in the words of Hawai‘i’s 19th-century Queen Kapi‘olani, “Kūlia i ka nu‘u.” We will strive for the summit. We know that summit will always remain just out of reach, but we will never become complacent. We will always grow, adapt, and change for the heart of our communities.
It has been an honor to serve as your president, and I look forward to continuing to strive for the summit with all of you.
Kūlia i ka nu‘u, and a hui hou.