Making a New Promise with Our Community

At the ALA Midwinter Conference in Anaheim, Carolyn Brodie, incoming president of ALSC, chose to focus her message for ALSC leaders on the subject of ADVOCACY.  As advocacy is a major direction in the Division’s strategic plan, she wanted the ALSC Board, Priority Group Consultants and Committee Chairs to have the tools that they needed to be informed and knowledgeable.  They, in turn, were charged to provide the information and spread the word to the ALSC membership.

The dynamic David Lankes* talked to us about “Making a New Promise with our Community!” It was a presentation packed full of enthusiasm, humor, wisdom and inspiration.

David’s message to all of us is that for our libraries to be successful in the future, we need to think beyond the traditional concepts of the library in the community. David points out that “the mission of librarianship is to improve society through the facilitation of knowledge creation in their communities.”   If that is the case, then to be successful, it is essential that we engage in CONVERSATIONS with individuals and groups in our communities. We must look to our users and potential users to tell us about their hopes and wishes and dreams.  What can we learn from them? How can we structure our services to support those dreams? We need to move from a deficit model to an aspirational one.

David encouraged us to think about how we can be flexible and innovative in order to develop services to help our community members work to achieve their dreams and aspirations. He suggested that as a promise to our communities, we initiate new ideas and opportunities so that our community members can look to the Library itself as a resource in the community (not just a place that houses books and information). The Library would be a dynamic place providing opportunities to enable individuals and their families to grow and learn and succeed.

By fulfilling that promise, the Library will build a cadre of advocates who will work on its behalf. The Library demonstrates that it has an integral role in creating the community’s successful future.

David’s presentation struck a cord with the group. We listened; we learned; and we discussed the following questions:

(1)    How can we effectively identify specific community needs in terms of developing youth services and supporting literacy?

(2)    As professionals, what can we do to accomplish change to meet these needs?

(3)    Are there barriers and how do we overcome them?

My few words cannot begin to convey David’s ideas and wisdom.

Listen to David’s inspiring talk and view his slides at http://quartz.syr.edu/blog/?p=1657.

Please join us in the conversation.

Penny Markey, Chair
2012-2013 ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee

*David Lankes has been instrumental in shaping the ALA approach to Advocacy. He is a professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse.  His book, The Atlas of New Librarianship won the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the best book in Library Literature. Follow his blog at  http://quartz.syr.edu/blog/.

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