Expect More – in Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today’s Complex World (2012), R. David Lankes articulated a vision for our profession rooted in the bedrock principle that libraries must be a force for good and a resource for positive change in our communities. The changes seen in the United States and around the world since 2012 only make this call for us to “expect more” from our libraries more urgent. The 2017 ALA election takes place in the shadow of one of the most unexpected turns in American politics in a century and at a moment when it has never been more important for us to stand together in defense of the values that originally brought us to our work. I expect more out of ALA, if it is to retain its place as a meaningful center for my work as an LIS professional in today’s complex world, and I hope you do, too. We must work together in new ways to ensure that #OurALA remains a critical resource for its members, and a powerful voice for the values we hold dear and the diverse communities we serve.
Lead with Our Values - I applaud the work of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Implementation Working Group and their call to ALA to always lead with its values. I support their vision of ALA as "an association of action, one that stands up for the rights of its members, its service communities, and its patrons." This statement connects a vision for ALA with the role we must play in the world, as individuals and as an Association, in answering what we at DePaul know as "the Vincentian question, 'What Must Be Done?'"
Build Local Networks to Ensure Meaningful Impact – for many of us, the work that matters most is the work we do in our local communities, whether those are schools, neighborhoods, college campuses, or elsewhere. Impact on national policies and priorities, including information policies, funding for libraries, museums, and schools, and protecting intellectual freedom and equity of access to the information and technology necessary for informed citizenship in a democracy, grows from grassroots efforts. #OurALA must engage its members and their allies at the local level in new ways to ensure that they see that their Association is supporting them and helping them to make a difference in their own worlds.
Make a New Commitment to Member Engagement and Member Leadership – it has never been more important for ALA to make a meaningful commitment to engaging its members across the arc of their careers - from LIS students, to new professionals and para-professionals, to senior colleagues, to retirees – and, through that engagement, to help them lead with our shared values in their local communities. A new commitment to member engagement and to member leadership is the only path forward in challenging times, and the only way to ensure that ALA remains meaningful, on a personal level, to its members and their partners in our shared work in local communities, across the nation, and around the globe.
This must be #OurALA, and we must work together in new ways to ensure its future. This must be #OurALA, demonstrating values-centered leadership that will not only allow the Association to have an impact on national plans, policies, and priorities, but will give our members strength and help them to make a difference in their local communities. The game changed in 2016, and #OurALA will need to recognize that fact if it is to continue to play the central role in our personal and professional lives that it has for so long.