Circulating Ideas - A Preview

I just completed a Q & A for the Circulating Ideas podcast, and, while the responses were not scripted, I have a few notes that should reflect much of what you'll hear when the podcast comes out next month. Here's something close to what I said when asked the perennial opener, "Why do you want to be ALA President?"

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When you put your name forward, whether as a candidate for a professional position, a service opportunity, or for ALA President, I think you do it because: 1) you believe the work is important; 2) you believe that you have the experience, the skills, the imagination, and the commitment to make a contribution to the good of the organization; and, 3) because you want to make a difference in your world.

I decided to run for ALA President because I believe the Association has a critical role to play in defense of freedom of speech, equity of access to information, social justice, and the public good, and because I believe that each of these currently faces challenges unprecedented in my lifetime. I believe that ALA has the potential to develop, sustain, and mobilize a powerful network of members at the local, state, and national levels, and a responsibility to do this work in collaboration with other associations and grassroots organizations in defense of our core values and the rights of library staff and library users.

Library advocacy, including advocacy for the rights of our staff and the people in our communities, looks different in 2017 than it did in 2016, and all signs suggest that this change trajectory will continue. In the weeks since Midwinter, we have seen challenge after challenge to our fundamental freedoms in terms of intellectual freedom, access to information and to information networks, to social institutions such as public schools, and to civil society, more broadly. ALA, as an Association, has started to react effectively to these challenges, and to position itself as an activist organization that will defend those rights. We saw that just this morning in ALA’s support for transgender students. But, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we need to ensure that ALA leadership remains committed to this path for the long haul. I believe it is doing this now, and I believe it will continue to do this under the leadership of president-elect Jim Neal, and I would be proud to have the opportunity to continue to build on that work, and to ensure that ALA is firmly established as a leader in defending our core values, the rights of the people in our communities, and the role of libraries as a public good and a bulwark of an informed democracy.