Camila Alire, dean emerita at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, was inaugurated as ALA president at the 2009 Annual Conference in Chicago.
“ALA embodies the hard work of all the librarians, information specialists, and library support staff who take serving the information needs of their communities very seriously,” she said at her inaugural banquet. “One of my goals is to provide another level of advocacy that articulates not only the value of all types of libraries but also the value of our members working in those libraries to their respective communities.”
Alire broke with the traditional speech model for her inaugural address and instead turned the spotlight on three students who talked about their aspirations—a Chicago police officer attending library school at Dominican University, a California high school student, and a literacy student whose parents emigrated from Guatemala and who is working toward her general equivalency diploma (GED).
Key initiatives will address advocacy and literacy.
A focus on “member-driven advocacy” content and training—for librarians, library staff, and supporters of all types of libraries—complements ALA’s existing efforts targeting local, state, and federal legislative advocacy. This front-line advocacy features a most critical emphasis on the competencies and content needed to advocate for the library and library needs within the library structure and within our respective communities—cities, counties, higher education environments, and schools/school districts.
In addition, Alire will work to bring national attention to libraries and their role as literacy builders, engage library leaders everywhere to focus on current literacy best practices in building community, and develop programs that incorporate literacy partners to build a comprehensive advocacy for literacy movement.
“We know that a literate public is an informed public and that our library users need multiple literacies including reading, information, digital, and cultural literacies in order to access information of all types in all formats,” Alire says.
“However, not everyone recognizes the crucial role libraries play,” she notes. “Today and for the future, it is not enough to focus only on providing these vital services. We all must advocate for our respective communities’ right to have them and for the value of our libraries.”
“I am calling on the library community to do what it does best: to educate and inform and to disseminate the knowledge that the library is an indispensable institution, greatly in need of support,” Alire says. “I will work with ALA to provide resources, tools, and trainings to allow you to better articulate what you already know is true: libraries are the heart of all communities.”
Roberta Stevens, outreach projects and partnerships officer at the Library of Congress and project manager for the National Book Festival, was named ALA president-elect in the 2009 election. Stevens will serve as president-elect for the 2009–2010 term and will be inaugurated as ALA president at the 2010 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. Stevens pledged to advocate tirelessly for all libraries and library employees during these challenging economic times. She said she is looking forward to working with everyone in ALA to ensure that all Americans have access to the library collections and services that they have come to rely on as a critical component of our dynamic democracy.
The ALA Council elected three new ALA Executive Board members in a vote taken at the 2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting, held January 23–28, 2009, in Denver. Patricia M. Hogan, administrative librarian at the Poplar Creek Public Library District in Streamwood, Illinois; Stephen L. Matthews, librarian with the Currier Library at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia; and Courtney L. Young, a reference librarian and professor of women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University in Monaca, are serving three-year terms that began in July 2009 and will conclude in June 2012.