A Message to Members

A statement from President Julie B. Todaro and the Executive Board to American Library Association members

November 21, 2016

Dear Members:

Thank you for your candid responses to our press releases re: ALA’s Libraries Bolster Opportunities. We are sorry that these communications created confusion and anger regarding our Association’s position on safeguarding and promoting its commitment to our core values including diversity, equity and inclusion. We understand that content from these press releases, including the 11/18/16 release that was posted in error, was interpreted as capitulating to and normalizing the incoming administration. ALA administration and leadership issues an apology to all who were negatively affected by these communications.

Our intent was to highlight the invaluable role that librarians and library workers play within our communities as infrastructure for resources and services, and especially where we provide unique services to special populations, such as immigrants and veterans. Yet, our core values as an association are clear—free access, intellectual freedom, privacy and confidentiality. We will stand for these values unwaveringly, now and into the future. Our work with any administration must always first be in line with these values. And it is clear that many of these values are at odds with messaging or positions taken by the incoming administration.

Please know that we stand by our members. With this in mind, the ALA is committed to providing a platform where you can share your ideas and concerns. We have reached out to key ALA staff and have asked for an opportunity for people to comment with their thoughts, ideas, and feedback. The most accessible location for this to happen is on the American Libraries blog, The Scoop. Please feel free to engage with us here.

The ALA is very concerned about the role of our nation’s libraries under this new administration, both at the legislative level as well as at the state and local level. That concern, however, should never eclipse our commitment to our members, to defending our core values and advancing our policy positions.

We have a great deal of work ahead of us as we work to abolish intolerance and cultural invisibility, and stand up for all the members of our communities, as we promote understanding and inclusion through our efforts. We believe that we all must work so that our voices are heard at the federal, state, and local government levels, and so we can continue to advance the issues and core values that matter to our members.

Please know that we feel—as does ALA administration and leadership—that our work with any governmental entity or individual(s) should never come at the cost of our core values as an organization. We can promise you that this will not change.

We are all concerned about the future. Please share your thoughts, ideas, and feedback in the comments section below. We need to hear from you now more than ever as we continue our work on behalf of our constituents, libraries and all librarians and library workers. Beginning Monday morning, the ALA executive board will discuss these issues and our processes and we will use your comments to help guide us in our discussions and planning as we work to earn back the trust of our members and prepare for the work ahead during this new administration.

Thank you again for your patience.

Sincerely,

Dr. Julie Todaro, ALA President, and the ALA Executive Board

 

Update, Dec. 6: ALA President Julie B. Todaro released a statement today responding to member concerns. The statement includes a detailed Q&A related to questions received from members.