The Year Ahead
By Maureen Sullivan
Tue, 09/04/2012 - 12:11
I look forward to this year in which I have the privilege of serving as ALA president. To prepare for this important role I acted on the very good advice of a number of our past presidents and took advantage of every opportunity in my president-elect term to lay a strong foundation for what I expect ALA to accomplish this year.
In the May/June issue of American Libraries, Molly Raphael described the work she and I did to pass the baton in the area of community engagement. ALA will engage the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to help us develop a rich and robust program to support and guide librarians to lead community engagement and become public innovators at the local level. ALA will also partner with the Harwood Institute in the launch of its major new program, the Work of Hope. This second partnership will be another opportunity to realize the potential of libraries to strengthen their role in communities and civic life.
In late March 2013 the Harvard Graduate School of Education will hold a three-day symposium called Library Leadership in the Digital Age. This symposium will bring together library leaders from a variety of settings with other senior-level educational leaders to reimagine the role of the library and to identify effective leadership strategies.
Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels and I have been working to fulfill a goal that each of us has had for some time—the creation of an ALA leadership development program. We expect to launch this intensive four- or five-day program next spring. Key themes of the program will be leveraging diversity and creating an inclusive, high-performing workplace.
Three initiatives are underway to strengthen ALA’s work internationally: enhancing and extending the Sister Libraries program; exploring a partnership with the National Peace Corps Association (the alumni group of the Peace Corps); and providing a series of webinars for ALA’s international members.
During the Executive Board’s fall meeting, I will lead work sessions in which the ALA division leadership and the Executive Board will consider how to strengthen and rethink the Association to ensure a vital and effective organization that delivers high value for our current and future members.
The cochairs of the School Library Task Force (Susan Ballard and Pat Tumulty) and I will convene a small group to develop a strategic action agenda to build upon the work accomplished this year. This action agenda will include effective ways to educate and inform external stakeholders about the difference that a school library program led by a state-certified school librarian makes in student success.
I am part of an educational initiative for the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the US Department of State that will bring the historic collections of the Rooms and the diplomatic work that occurs in them to students and educators. This has led to another significant partnership for ALA. The Association and libraries will be key components of the educational program that is being developed.
The very good work of the Digital Content and Libraries Working Group continues. Immediate Past President Molly Raphael has agreed to serve as ALA’s point person in the ongoing discussions with publishers about the need to enable libraries to purchase ebooks at a reasonable cost. During the coming year, the task force will be addressing other critical issues related to digital content and libraries of all types.
These are the areas in which much of my attention is focused. There are so many other initiatives and activities that ALA’s divisions, chapters, committees, round tables, and affiliate organizations are accomplishing. We are fortunate to have the talents, leadership, and dedication of ALA’s many members and its staff who—as the ALA 2015 strategic plan states—will enable the Association to build “a world where libraries … are central to lifelong discovery and learning.”
MAUREEN SULLIVAN is an organization development consultant to libraries and professor of practice in the Managerial Leadership in the Information Professions doctoral program of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.