Those of you who know me, know of my deep and abiding passion for libraries. You also know that I've worked -- with many others! -- to make them better. As I've often said, this is the most exciting time in the history of our profession, and we need every live mind and spirit we can find.
But the more I have thought about the state of libraries in the US today, the more concerned I have become. Support for public and academic libraries - measured in terms of public willingness to fund them - has been falling for decades. In too many states, our school libraries are in a state of crisis. Many are on the brink of extinction.
I know most librarians to be conscientious and thoughtful stewards of public funds. Too, I know them to be, in many, many ways, staggeringly effective. Why then, are we losing support? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
Here's what doesn't work: talking to ourselves. If I am elected to the presidency, I will focus on taking the library message beyond the echo chamber, urging a great visibility in and engagement with our community to carry forward three key messages.
In brief, those messages are:
- We must move from gatekeeper to gardener. We are in the midst of an historic explosion of digital content creation. In the public and academic worlds alike, we can't just passively accept ruinous financial arrangements that ignore a host of new voices.
- We must catalog our communities, building our relationships with civic leaders, selecting high profile projects that help our communities thrive, then demonstrating our skills and value.
- Children's services - especially early literacy - is our most important contribution not only to individual lives, but to society. Too many of our communities suffer from "book deserts." We must move them to "book abundance."
If you're interested in learning more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or like me (Jamie LaRue) on Facebook.
Thanks for your attention,
P.S. I can also be followed on Twitter at @jaslar. I'll be using the hashtag #larue4ala, too.