Midwinter 2010 in Boston
Midwinter 2010 was unlike any other of the 35 previous ones I had attended. As a candidate for ALA president, my time was fully booked. In less than four days, I attended 40 meetings, virtually all of which required me to make a presentation. There was no time for visiting with friends and colleagues over lunch or dinner. Midwinter for a presidential candidate has become a time for presenting one’s platform and qualifications to boards, committees, roundtables, and caucuses. For me, these meetings also provided an opportunity to hear from ALA members about their concerns and their expectations for the next president’s priorities in office.
It was gratifying to develop a platform (http://mollyraphael.org/) before going to Midwinter and then hear ideas and concerns that were consistent with the themes reflected in my platform. In visiting with so many division boards, round tables, committees, and caucuses, I found that my presidential initiatives based on my campaign themes will serve very well as extensions of the priorities expressed by ALA members at these sessions.
For example, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has hired a consultant to undertake a study about the value of academic libraries to their parent institution (http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2010/january2010/researcher_acrl.cfm), research that relates directly to my particular platform focus on advocacy and our need to enhance and publicize the research that shows that libraries are essential for learning. Another example related to my advocacy focus can be found in the work of such groups as Association for Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) as well as the recently established ALA Committee on Library Advocacy and the Office for Library Advocacy.
The only “scripted” event was the one-hour candidates’ forum on Saturday morning with the two presidential and two treasurer candidates. We each gave opening remarks, then responded to questions posed by members in the audience, and finally each offered closing remarks. You can watch that event a this link:
What were the benefits of this grueling, four-day schedule? For many parts of ALA’s current leadership, there was the opportunity to learn about candidates’ backgrounds, contributions to ALA and the library world, and proposed platform and priorities as ALA president. As an ALA presidential candidate, I had the opportunity to reconnect directly with many, many parts of the association and to hear directly from members about heir concerns. In addition, I actually had fun, listening to questions and responding. In one case, I almost felt I was going through a job interview, which, in some ways, I guess I was.
When I finished the 40 meetings, which began at 11 am on Friday, and ended at 4 pm on Monday, I was exhausted, invigorated, grateful, and ready to plan the next few months. It is an honor to run for ALA president in so many ways. Having the opportunity to be a candidate means that I can put all that I have learned over the past 40 years as a librarian and active ALA member to work for an organization that I know can make a difference for the future of libraries and library workers.
Our collective voice, expressed through ALA, is particularly important in these tough financial times. I urge you to vote when you receive your electronic ballot in mid-March. The stakes are high, and your voice needs to be heard.