2009–2010 Year in Review
2009–2010 ALA President Camila Alire centered her presidential initiative, “Libraries: The Heart of All Communities,” on frontline advocacy and family literacy
The frontline advocacy component focused on engaging and empowering librarians and other library staff to articulate the value of their respective libraries. Advocacy toolkits were created for each type of library—academic, public, school, and special—and Alire and members of her advisory committee conducted workshops around the country to train library staff and supporters to speak effectively about the value of libraries. Additionally, an online tutorial was developed for ALA’s Advocacy University website; a Frontline Library Advocacy Train–the–Trainer preconference was held at the 2010 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.; and an instructional webinar was conducted in October 2010.
The second component, family literacy, provided an opportunity for ALA’s five ethnic affiliates to plan and implement activities that would engage families in their respective communities to read, learn, and play together. Each of the affiliates—the American Indian Library Association, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, the Chinese American Library Association, and REFORMA (the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking)—developed family literacy projects that have been piloted across the country and can be replicated by public libraries that serve any or all minority communities.
Libraries forge ahead through perfect storm
Faced with a “perfect storm” of growing demand for library services but shrinking resources to meet that demand, libraries worked to provide critically needed materials and services, amplify advocacy efforts, and ask their users and supporters to speak out on their behalf.
In June, more than 2,000 turned out for Library Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Nearly five times larger than any National Library Legislative Day in the past, the event included a rally on Capitol Hill, meetings with elected officials, and a virtual component that drew another 1,053 participants to advocate for libraries by e-mailing members of Congress.
Authors and library supporters Marilyn Johnson, Paula Poundstone, Barbara Kingsolver, Lisa Scottoline, and Roy Blount Jr. were the first to join “Authors for Libraries,” an effort by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations to encourage authors to advocate for libraries on local, state, and national levels. The program—which grew out of a presentation at Midwinter by Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All—will share quotes from participating authors about the importance of libraries on the ALTAFF website and through promotional materials; it will also keep authors informed of opportunities to advocate for libraries.
ALA continued its provision of Capwiz advocacy software to ALA chapters, which used the online tool to send nearly 200,000 messages on the value of libraries to their legislators and governors. These online campaigns helped reinstate $20 million in state aid for libraries in Florida and millions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In North Carolina, an online grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign through Facebook and Twitter helped convince trustees of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to rescind a vote that would have closed 12 branches and laid off more than 140 library employees. The experience inspired CML Learning and Development Coordinator Lori Reed to create SaveLibraries.org, a clearinghouse of news and tools to fight library budget and closings.
The Association of College and Research Libraries embarked on a multi-year Value of Academic Libraries Initiative to increase recognition of the value of libraries and librarians by leaders in higher education, information technology, funding agencies, and campus decision-making. Megan Oakleaf, assistant professor for the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University, led a review of the literature, methodologies, and best practices already in place to demonstrate the value of academic libraries; the findings were released in September 2010 in The Value of Academic Libraries Comprehensive Research Review and Report. The full report is available on the ACRL website.
ALA responds to disasters in Haiti and Chile
ALA set up efforts to rebuild libraries in Haiti and Chile after the devastating earthquakes in early 2010. ALA raised an initial $25,000 to rebuild three libraries in Haiti: the Petit Goave Public Library, the Centre Culturel Pyepoudre Community Library, and the Bibliothèque haïtienne des Pères du Saint-Esprit, which was founded in 1873 and holds resources documenting the history of Haiti, French colonization, slavery, and emancipation. In addition to seeking funding, ALA worked to have U.S. libraries adopt libraries in the southern region of Chile that were destroyed or damaged during the February 27 earthquake and aftershocks.
New Online Learning site debuts
As ALA divisions and offices continued to expand their online education offerings, shortly before the 2010 Annual Conference, ALA launched its new Online Learning website, a collaboration of all units providing e-learning through a variety of methods—podcasts, webinars, e-courses, and more. The easy-to-search site is organized into five general areas: Collection Management, Issues and Advocacy, Management Issues for Library Leaders, School Libraries, and Service Delivery in Libraries.
Twitter donates archive to Library of Congress
In a landmark intersection between the library world and social media, the Library of Congress received social media giant Twitter’s entire archive of tweets, totaling billions of 140-character posts dating back to March 2006. Highlights of the collection include the first-ever tweet from Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey and President Obama’s tweet after winning the 2008 presidential election.
ALA publishing steps up digital delivery
In addition to launching more new print books—37—in one year than ever before, the range of online publishing offered by ALA Editions was stepped up with the incorporation of ALA TechSource and its staff into the unit. Additionally, eEditions allow customers to buy ALA Editions books and ALA TechSource’s Library Technology Reports in electronic format directly from the ALA Store, with file formats readable using a variety of software and devices, including the Amazon Kindle, Sony eReader, iPhone’s Stanza eReader, Adobe Digital Editions eReader, and the MobiPocket eReader. They can also be read on desktop and laptop computers using free software. A new bundle option was introduced so that customers can download ALA Editions books and begin reading immediately, while the print version is being shipped.
In January, the new American Libraries website was launched with content open to all. Well received by readers, the new site is also transforming the workflow of American Libraries editors, who are now publishing continually on the site. Columns, features, and news are posted regularly, with links appearing weekly in the e-newsletter AL Direct. Other benefits include expanded news content, web-only spotlights, HTML versions of most of the print magazine’s content, comment-enabled articles (easy to share on Facebook, Twitter, ALA Connect, and through other social media), an archive of every issue of American Libraries Direct, and RSS feeds for new issues. AL has also begun to roll out archives of old issues online; eventually, the archives will date back to the very beginning of American Libraries in 1907, thanks to a partnership with JSTOR.
In other areas of publishing, Booklist Publications had another year marked by innovation in digital media—expansion of the existing blogs, e-newsletters, and social media, an iPhone App, and a new sponsored webinar program that helped the imprint overcome the notoriously challenging current magazine advertising environment—and Library Leadership and Management completed a three-year process to transition the journal to an online format, housed within a searchable database.
Another busy year for the Campaign for America’s Libraries
The Campaign for America’s Libraries continued to work with partners to generate public awareness about the value of libraries and librarians, to reach new audiences, and to amplify messages.
Campaign partner Dollar General Literacy Foundation provided funding for 75 public libraries in 24 states to receive The American Dream Starts @ your library grants to add or expand literacy services for adult English-language learners.
The Step Up to the Plate @ your library program, developed by ALA and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, concluded its fourth season with a grand-prize drawing at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Program spokesperson and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith chose 11-year-old Elizabeth Ann Bishop of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, as the winner. Step Up to the Plate encouraged fans of all ages to use the print and electronic resources at their library to answer a series of trivia questions focused on multiculturalism in baseball and baseball around the world. Season five of the program launched in April; library staff at the Hall of Fame developed trivia questions reflecting the Hall of Fame’s role in preserving the history of baseball, with questions about exhibits at the museum.
For the second year in a row, Univision Radio, the nation’s largest Spanish-language radio broadcaster, aired Spanish-language public service announcements (PSAs) about the value of libraries and librarians for the “en tu biblioteca” campaign, which encourages members of the Latino community to use their local libraries. A Spanish-language website for the public supports the messages of the radio PSAs and offers tools and materials for librarians looking to reach out to their Spanish-speaking audience.
Continuing a nine-year partnership with the Campaign for America’s Libraries, Woman’s Day magazine featured the four winners of its latest library initiative, which asked readers how they used the resources at their libraries to save money and access resources to cope with economic tough times. Winners included a woman who uses the resources and programs at her library to help homeschool her son, one who used interlibrary loan to check out college textbooks, another who used the library’s free resources to find her place in a new community, and a reader who used books from the library to learn how to renovate her 1880s home. Also in the March issue, the magazine announced its next initiative, asking women to submit stories of why the library is important to their community. Four submissions will be featured in the March 2011 issue.
ALA’s public awareness website, atyourlibrary.org, continued to expand in 2010, with an 11.5 percent increase in the number of unique visitors to the site as well as a growing number of Facebook and Twitter followers. New additions to the site included long format audio interviews with authors and promotional tie-ins with existing ALA initiatives such as Library Card Sign-up Month.
The Campaign for the World’s Libraries
The Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA) joined the Campaign for the World’s Libraries in 2009. The Campaign for the World’s Libraries was developed by ALA and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to showcase the unique and vital roles played by public, school, academic and special libraries worldwide. To date, 36 countries have joined the campaign, and the @ your library brand has been translated into 29 languages.