ALA Virtual Conference kicked off today with an inspirational talk from Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director of ALA, talking before the featured speaker Misty Copeland. As usual at ALA conferences, both speakers got me excited and energized about being a librarian.
I can’t give you pictures of being there among hundreds of other librarians, of people waiting to be let into the Exhibit Hall. Me at my computer isn’t a terribly inspiring image. But I can tell you some highlights from their talks, beginning with Tracy Hall.
Right from the outset, she encouraged us as librarians to let our legacy be Justice.
Libraries play a pivotal role in bringing justice. She came to libraries after working in a homeless shelter. When she would bring folks from the shelter to the library, they would say, “I can’t believe this is free!” The right and access to resources leads to enfranchisement.
She wants ALA to focus on three goals and priorities:
1) Universal Broadband
Libraries have been wonderful in promoting literacy. Now we need to promote access.
2) Diversification of the Library Field
The communities we serve are diverse, so we who serve them need to be diverse as well. Having a mainly white profession limits our reach and credibility.
3) Deepen Investment in Libraries
We need to increase funding at the local and federal levels and from public and private sources. Libraries are first-stop community resources, but our funding doesn’t reflect that priority. We need to highlight the unparalleled work we do.
Embedded in these three calls is the overarching call for Justice.