Advancing Our Mission

Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:11
Continuity of presidency
ALA President Courtney Young

As I begin my ALA presidency, I’m aware of the need for both consistency and change. Like ALA presidents before me, I bring to the table my commitment to the profession as well as a good understanding of the Association’s structure, finances, members, and aspirations. But my unique experiences will also help shape my approach to key ALA initiatives. Over the next year, several significant developments are in store for our professional association.

Taking ownership of all presidential initiatives

I will not develop a single initiative or standalone theme for my presidential year. Don’t get me wrong; I do plan to highlight particular areas of interest and emphasis within ALA’s mission and vision: diversity, career development, engagement, and outreach. At the same time, ALA presidents occupy the office for only one year. Each president leaves his or her mark on ALA, but the continuity of the role is key. Standing on the shoulders of every president who has come before me, it is my job to advance the crucial work of the library community. At this particular point in ALA’s progress, I feel it is necessary to do just that by taking ownership of all currently active presidential initiatives. This will provide much-needed continuity to the outstanding work of my predecessors. I see this as an opportunity to continue our progress with the initiatives of previous ALA presidents to help reach their full potential. This will allow us to carry on diverse ways to make progress. By sustaining our progress, both our internal and external stakeholders will recognize our expertise and excellence in all areas of the library profession.

Career development facilitators

So much of what we do in libraries is a direct result of partnerships and collaborations both within the library community and with outside partners. In that spirit, I am pleased to support an initiative of ALA’s Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment. With collaboration from state chapters, I will be working with a small team to select 25 participants in the inaugural Career Development Facilitator program.

Social media and transformation

Social media is a rapidly growing part of how we interact with our members and the public, engage new members, and tell the ALA story. These new modes of communication and interaction can be useful for making announcements and informing the membership of a new initiative or opportunity. However, social media also provides ALA with a means to go beyond mere communication and engage in transformative dialogue within the organization, among members, with other partners, and with the public. The Association needs a stronger and more consistent social media presence to help move us forward and create the opportunities we need as an association of the 21st century. My ongoing use of social media has allowed me to become a better librarian and ALA member. I plan to expand my social media presence to include my role as ALA president.

Diversity

Barbara Stripling and I have appointed a Special Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The task force’s efforts will facilitate a central area of the Association’s mission and the role of libraries of all types in their respective communities. In addition to this group’s work I will be collaborating with members to improve our knowledge of and access to diversity materials from across the Association.

COURTNEY L. YOUNG is head librarian and professor of women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University, Greater Allegheny campus in McKeesport. Email: cyoung@ala.org.