A Place within ALA #8
On January 6, we witnessed a violent insurrection at the US Capitol. Our nation’s capital, my hometown of Washington, D.C., was occupied by troops in a way we have not seen since the Civil War. Our democracy was tested. Then, two weeks later, we witnessed a peaceful transfer of power with the inauguration of our 46th president and the historic swearing in of our 49th vice president, who is the first Black person, first Asian American, and first woman to hold the job, and who was sworn in by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. Our democracy prevailed and our country has evolved.
What do these events mean for libraries and the Association?
Libraries and library workers had an important role leading up to the 2020 presidential election by encouraging and supporting voter registration, which led to more than 66% of eligible voters participating—making 2020 the most engaged election since 1900. No matter who you voted for, as an ALA member you understood the significance of engaging in our democracy and the democratic process.
Participation in the democratic process and the governance of our nation is important to the citizens we serve. The governance of ALA should be equally important to our members.
An essential part of being an ALA member is being engaged in our governance structure. On March 8, when the election opens, each member will have an opportunity to participate in shaping the governance structure of ALA.
This is the moment when all members have a part to play by voting to elect those will lead ALA in 2022–2023, as well as the presiding officers of our divisions and round tables, and those on our governing body, Council. These elected members will have the responsibility of representing your interests. Our elected member leaders are vital to the current and future success of ALA. However, only 20% of members participated in the last ALA election, compared with the 66% voter engagement in the presidential election. Participating in ALA elections is just one essential way your voice as a member can be heard.
Amid our nation’s and Association’s current challenges, I look to the fresh start that spring ushers in with a sense of hope, opportunity, and optimism.
There is no better time than now to be the Association that the library field and our public need. There is a way for every member to be engaged. Maximize the value of your membership by participating in ALA divisions and round tables that focus on the specific needs of our profession, or by serving on Council committees of ALA, divisions, or round tables. Other opportunities can be found in the work of the 28 ALA affiliates and in the work of ALA offices.
Join the Association’s extensive advocacy network and partner with the Public Policy and Advocacy Office as well as state chapters to influence legislation and policies of importance to the library field. Work with ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services to navigate issues of diversity and literacy in the library field. Take a stand for privacy and the First Amendment using the resources and services of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
I look to the hope of reenvisioning our collective identity as a member-driven Association, in which all members can see themselves as leaders, mentors, and partners. I hope that ALA will meet the needs of all members, and all members will have a place within ALA.
I hope for optimism, so that all ALA members understand we are one Association with many parts, and we are strongest when we are engaged, work together, and speak with one voice.