2000–2001 ALA President's Reports

   Nancy Kranich 2000–2001 ALA President's Reports

Nancy Kranich

President’s Reports

June 2001 | April 2001 | January 2001 | October 2000

   June 2001

President’s Report to the American Library Association Council

Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy

Over the past six months, several of my democracy initiatives have advanced toward completion. My collection, Libraries and Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty, was just published by ALA Editions. Copies are available at ALA’s annual conference at the ALA Store and at the book signing following the President’s Program, Moscone Gateway Foyer, on Sunday, June 17th.

My Advocacy and Information Literacy Community Partnerships committees hosted a successful 2-session pre-conference at midwinter to teach ALA members how to promote information literacy and to build successful partnerships. Representatives from several groups working with libraries were invited to discuss ways that libraries and community groups can work together to build information-smart citizens. Toolkits created for these projects are available on my Presidential home page include: A Library Advocate’s Guide to Building Information Literate Communities, Library Advocate’s Handbook, and Community Partnerships Toolkit. I have worked with WHCLIST, ALTA and the Public Awareness Committee to develop strategies for mobilizing public advocates. At our summer conference, we will offer Internet advocacy training (using a revised Libraries and the Internet Toolkit) and a session to train trainers for the @ your library campaign.

I led a delegation of seven ALA members to Tblisi, Georgia, from May 5–9 for a forum with the library associations of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Thanks to the good work of Michael Dowling, director of ALA’s International Relations Office, and my Emerging Democracies Committee, chaired by Ann Symons, we attracted a number of grants to advance the role of libraries in Emerging Democracies, including: Carnegie Corporation of New York ($25,000); the Democracy Commission Grant ($8,700); American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study (ACCELS) ($5,000); Open Society Institute ($11,125); and the Speakers Bureau ($7,000). We have raised sufficient funds to follow up with this project and consider next steps for applying this model for future international activities. The thirty participants have expressed great enthusiasm about their experience; they are planning National Library Week festivities for next year and working to build their national bibliographies in conjunction with the Library of Congress. We are staying in touch with participants through a new listserv to be supplemented soon with a Russian/English web site for posting workshop materials that can be used for similar international development projects in Russia and the former Soviet republics. We are also beginning plans for a follow up meeting in the fall of 2002. Watch American Libraries for an article about the workshop in August.

Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, Making Democracy Work, and Better Together, will speak at my President’s Program in San Francisco on Sunday, June 17th. He has recently completed a series of seminars and collected benchmark data measuring social capital in 36 cities. His next goal is to develop projects to encourage greater civic participation and he wants to involve ALA and libraries in this effort. The ALA Executive Board endorsed a preliminary proposal that I developed with Putnam to involve libraries with his efforts to build social capital and encourage civic engagement. I will hold a meeting with a diverse group of ALA members in San Francisco to consider next steps.

Advocacy and Media

Accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush and Baltimore Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick, I hosted ALA’s April 3rd launch of the Campaign for America’s Libraries during National Library Week. The launch was held at the Northeast Branch of the DC Public Library, Executive Board member and library director, Molly Raphael, presented Mrs. Bush with a library card. The First Lady and Mike Bordick then read I Brought My Frog to the Library to twenty-five 5-year olds from the nearby Peabody School. The event attracted significant media coverage including C-Span, CNN, AP, Scripps-Howard and the local Hispanic newspaper. Mrs. Bush also published an op-ed page editorial promoting libraries in the Washington Post on April 3rd. I have also worked with several companies and organizations including Major League Baseball and ABC to develop partnerships and PSA’s in order to promote libraries through our campaign. We will unveil these exciting initiatives at the Opening General Session of the annual conference.

ALA and others filed suit in Philadelphia in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on March 20 challenging the constitutionality of The Children’s Internet Protection Act. Judith Krug, Jenner and Block legal counsel Paul Smith, and I led a press conference at ACLU Headquarters in New York while John Berry and Bill Gordon joined our lead legal counsel, Theresa Chmara, for a parallel event in Philadelphia. Not only was the event a major success, but also the press coverage was quite extensive and favorable, with supportive stories in the Washington Post, New York Times, AP, and elsewhere. Additional television, radio, and print interviews have followed.

Reporters have talked with me about many issues over the past few months. John Berry and I spoke with C-Span at Book Expo in Chicago; I joined Lynne Bradley, director of the ALA Office of Government Relations, for a radio interview with Pam Dixon; the Chicago Tribune interviewed me for a wonderful article on the future of libraries published June 1st. Probably the most exciting moments were the Today Show featuring the Newbery and Caldecott award winners with Katie Couric, and C-Span’s Washington Journal, a 40-minute live call-in show that focused on libraries and the Internet. I also conducted interviews on such topics as the digital divide, prison libraries, copyright and publishing. While in Tblisi, Georgia, American librarians were celebrities. We taped two television reports, a radio show, and several newspaper accounts.

Washington Activities

I chaired an OITP meeting at the Washington Office in February to plan for a Rockefeller Foundation-funded Information Commons Summit to be held at the Aspen Institute Wye Conference Center in early November. We will commission papers for this important meeting about the need for a public commons in the digital sphere, well-equipped to ensure equitable public participation in the information age.

ALA joined forces with the Freedom Forum again this year to celebrate Freedom of Information Day on Friday, March 16, 2001 in Arlington, Virginia. This year’s day-long program was entitled “Access, Privacy and Security: A Troubled Tangle.” I presented the James Madison Award to John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff—a consistent and leading advocate for openness and public disclosure of government information. That evening, I joined colleagues at the Library of Congress for a celebration of Madison’s 250th birthday. Chief Justice Rehnquist was the speaker; I was seated with Justice Stephen Breyer. For those interested, Breyer has read three of the Harry Potter books, participated in the Dr. Suess Read Across America project last year, and considers the Supreme Court Library the only perk he gets on the job!

On March 22, I participated in a panel discussion on E-Government sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus. Hosted by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Patrick Leahy and Congressman Goodlatte, the program focused on key concerns and developments with electronic government information. With a librarian on the panel, we were able to present important principles to an influential audience of public interest groups, corporate representatives, and Congressional aids. On April 17, I joined an ALA delegation on a visit to FCC Commissioner Michael Powell to discuss the important role of libraries in providing universal telecommunications services in all communities. On Legislative Day, May 1st, I spoke at a press conference hosted by Senators Lieberman and Burns to announce their E-Government bill.

The Freedom Forum sponsored two programs at its New York First Amendment Center in which I participated: one with a panel of contributors to the Media Studies Journal (Fall 2000), and another on CIPA and filtering.

Speeches and Communications

Spring is a very busy time for ALA Chapter meetings and other events. I visited the Texas, Washington, New Mexico, and Oklahoma Library Association meetings. I also traveled to Hawaii to meet with librarians on the Big Island, Maui, and Oahu, and to Pittsburgh to address library trustees. Library schools were on my itinerary as well, including UCLA, Pratt, and Catholic University. In February, I addressed the Library Public Relations Council and, in March, the ACRL National Conference. I also spoke to various non-library groups including the International Communication Association, and publishers at Book Expo in Chicago (Pat Schroeder and I spoke on a panel about e-books) and TextOneZero in Brooklyn.

Several articles were published in addition to my American Libraries columns. In March, my article “Libraries for 2020: Ensuring Public Participation in the 21st Century Information Society,” appeared in iMP: Information Impacts Magazine ; the same journal will publish an article on filtering in late June. Congressional Quarterly ran a short statement about filtering in its May electronic edition.

ALA Structure and Governance

ALA is a wonderful laboratory for studying democracy and testing new techniques for deliberation and discourse. The new Core Values Task Force will report at Council on its innovative approach to engaging members on important topics. The Status of Librarians Task Force will recommend new ways that ALA can approach this issue. As our work becomes more electronic, we need to explore different ways for members to deliberate, both virtually and in-person. We also need to explore additional opportunities for discourse that broadens access and participation for our profession.

Equity is one of ALA’s key action areas in Goal 2000 and a goal for ALAction 2005. Members and staff agree that equity is fundamental to the basic tenets of librarianship and the important role libraries play as the cornerstone of democracy. Yet, it is difficult for us to grasp the scope and definition of this topic. Over the coming year, ALA needs to formulate an action agenda on equity of access issues in order to fulfill its mission in the 21st-Century information society. I hosted a meeting about ALA’s equity agenda last summer and small group discussions following the ALA President’s midwinter program on the digital divide. John W. Berry is also addressing this important issue. During its spring meeting, the Executive Board established a subcommittee that is recommending a strategy for developing a framework for ALA’s equity action plan; it will be considered by the Board in San Francisco.

Conclusion

Serving as ALA President during this most exciting period is a great honor and pleasure. My extensive travel around the country gave me opportunities to see first hand the vibrant and exciting programs and services offered in today’s libraries. From Hilo, Hawaii, to Worcester, Massachusetts, libraries are enjoying a renaissance and new popularity. As President, I am awed by the power and respect of ALA throughout the United States and beyond. I thank the many people who have made this odyssey a grand, exhilarating experience; particularly impressive was the work of my committees and the ALA staff. Together, working through ALA, we can and have made a tremendous difference in the lives of people in this country and beyond. And we have demonstrated that libraries are, indeed, the cornerstone of democracy.

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April 2001

Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy

Over the past three months, several of my democracy initiatives have advanced toward completion. Public Programs submitted a proposal to the Animating Democracy project to obtain a grant that will highlight democracy through the arts in libraries. We also worked on models for deliberative discourse with other public programs. My book, Libraries and Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty, is in the final edit stages with a release and book signing at Annual Conference following the President’s Program.

My Advocacy and Information Literacy Community Partnerships committees hosted a successful 2-session preconference at midwinter to teach ALA members how to promote information literacy and to build successful partnerships. Representatives from several groups working with libraries were invited to discuss ways that libraries and community groups can work together to build information smart citizens. Toolkits created for these projects that are available on my Presidential home page include: A Library Advocate’s Guide to Building Information Literate Communities, Library Advocate’s Handbook, and Community Partnerships Toolkit. I have worked with representatives from ALTA and Pat Schuman, chair of the Public Awareness Committee, to develop strategies for mobilizing public advocates that I will discuss with WHCLIST in Washington prior to ALA legislative day. At our summer conference, we will offer Internet advocacy training and a session to train trainers for the @ your library campaign.

I will lead an ALA delegation to Tblisi, Georgia, from May 5–9 for a forum with the library associations of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. (A web page about this project should be posted soon.) Thanks to the good work of Michael Dowling and my Emerging Democracies Committee, we have succeeded in attracting a number of grants in support of our proposal to help advance the role of libraries in Emerging Democracies, including: Carnegie Corporation of New York ($25,000); the Democracy Commission Grant ($8,700); ACCELS ($5,000); Open Society Institute ($11,125); and the Speakers Bureau ($7,000). We have raised sufficient funds to follow up with this project and consider next steps for applying this model for future international activities.

Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone , Making Democracy Work, and Better Together, will speak at my President’s Program in San Francisco. I met with him at Harvard in early April. He has recently completed a series of seminars and collected benchmark data measuring social capital in 36 cities. His next goal is to develop projects to encourage greater civic participation and wants to involve ALA and libraries in this effort. I will present a proposal for this exciting opportunity for Board consideration.

Advocacy and Media

I hosted ALA’s April 3rd launch of the Campaign for America’s Libraries during National Library Week accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush and Baltimore Orioles short stop Mike Bordick. Held at the Northeast Branch of the DC Public Library, Executive Board member and library director Molly Raphael presented Mrs. Bush with a library card. The First Lady and Mike Bordick read I Brought My Frog to the Library to twenty-five 5-year olds from the nearby Peabody School. The event attracted significant media coverage including C-Span, AP, Scripps-Howard and the local Hispanic newspaper. Mrs. Bush also published an op-ed page editorial promoting libraries in the Washington Post on April 3rd.

ALA and others filed suit in Philadelphia in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on March 20 challenging the constitutionality of The Children’s Internet Protection Act. Judith Krug, Jenner and Block legal counsel Paul Smith, and I led a press conference at ACLU Headquarters in New York while John Berry and Bill Gordon joined our lead legal counsel, Theresa Chmara, for a parallel event in Philadelphia. Not only was the event a major success, but also the press coverage was quite favorable, with supportive stories in the Washington Post, New York Times, AP, and elsewhere. Extensive television, radio, and print interviews have followed.

Washington Activities

I chaired an OITP meeting at the Washington Office in February to plan for a Rockefeller Foundation-funded Information Commons Summit to be held at the Aspen Institute Wye Conference Center in early November. We will commission papers for this important meeting about the need for a public commons in the digital sphere well equipped to ensure equitable public participation in the information age.

ALA joined forces with the Freedom Forum again this year to celebrate Freedom of Information Day on Friday, March 16, 2001 in Arlington, Virginia. This year’s day-long program was entitled “Access, Privacy and Security: A Troubled Tangle.” I presented the James Madison Award to John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff—a consistent and leading advocate for openness and public disclosure of government information.

On March 22, I participated in a panel discussion on E-Government sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus. Hosted by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Patrick Leahy and Congressman Goodlatte, the program focused on key concerns and developments with electronic government information. With a librarian on the panel, we were able to present important principles to an influential audience of public interest groups, corporate representatives, and Congressional aids. On April 17, I joined an ALA delegation on a visit to FCC Commissioner Michael Powell to discuss the important role of libraries in providing universal telecommunications services in all communities.

The Freedom Forum sponsored two programs at its New York First Amendment Center in which I participated: one with a panel of contributors to the Media Studies Journal (fall 2000), and another on CIPA and filtering. The next morning, I appeared on C-Span’s Washington Journal call-in show, which featured a lively, supportive discussion about libraries and the Internet.

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January 2001

Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy

Over the past six months, I have worked on numerous projects to advance my presidential theme—Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy. The August issue of American Libraries featured “Smart Voting Starts @ Your Library,” which went into a second printing and is available on my Web site. We wrote to all the organizations featured in the publication to let them know we are partners with them in promoting access to good voting information. The fact that votes in Florida were counted at the Leon County Public Library in Tallahassee is testimony of the important role libraries play to ensure that every vote and voter counts!

I worked with Public Programs to submit an NEH Chairman’s grant proposal to promote libraries as civic forums, focusing on deliberative democracy both onsite and online. When the project was recommended for resubmission in the regular round of NEH grants, we decided to seek more immediate channels for testing the virtual component. I am now working with the Public Programs Office to determine next steps for working with two of our partners in this project: the Walt Whitman Center for the Study of the Culture and Politics of Democracy at Rutgers University; and Web Lab, a New York-based non-profit that encourages and supports innovation on the Web. A similar model for online deliberative democracy is under consideration for digital association efforts in order to facilitate discourse about issues of professional concern. My column on “Library as Civic Forums” has garnered significant interest from the field. I have received announcements of exciting programming going on in libraries throughout the country and encourage members to forward me additional examples of such forums in their communities.

My Emerging Democracies committee has developed a proposal for a forum for promoting the key role of library associations in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The group met several times at IFLA and spoke with representatives from the three countries’ library associations and with potential funders. We have tentatively scheduled a meeting in Tblisi for early May, with the expectation that we will raise the necessary monies to send a delegation from the U.S. and support participation from all three countries. If successful, this forum could serve as a model for future ALA involvement to promote the key role of libraries in emerging democracies throughout the world.

I am in the midst of compiling a book on the topic of libraries and democracy to be published next spring by ALA Editions, with contributions from an impressive list of authors.Topics covered include: civil society, elections, the digital divide and information equity, intellectual freedom and fair use, information literate citizens, access to government information, the Library of Congress and democracy in the U.S. and abroad, and the right to know. While the role of libraries as cornerstones of democracy is often cited, few publications have specifically articulated the nature of this relationship.

My Advocacy and Information Literacy Community Partnerships Committees are working together to follow up on the training and partnerships assembly meetings held at the ALA Annual Conference. An action pack and advocacy training kit are complete and ready to take on the road. Another training session is being held on Thursday prior to Midwinter, along with a meeting with members of the National Forum on Information Literacy to determine next steps for partnership building. The “ Information Literacy Community Partnerships” draft tool kit is available on my Web site and “ A Library Advocate’s Guide to Building Information Literate Communities”. I convened a meeting with staff and committee chairs of the IFC, COL, PAC, Chapter Relations, PIO, and ALTA to discuss ALA’s advocacy efforts and revise ALA’s “ Libraries and the Internet Toolkit”. This group is sponsoring a new training program, starting with a session on Saturday afternoon at Midwinter. I have also worked closely with our Washington and Intellectual Freedom Offices to craft a strategy for dealing with the recently passed Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act (NCIPA). The Washington Office will host a session on the law’s requirements at the end of the Information Update on Saturday morning, January 13.

In November, I joined a delegation of librarians at a White House Briefing at the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. This was a first for ALA. Although President Clinton did not attend, the session gave the library community an opportunity to communicate our concerns directly to key policy makers. We hope to open up a similar dialogue with the new administration. Our Washington Office has done an outstanding job keeping our issues visible and navigating an overwhelming number of actions on a broad array of topics over the past six months. While Internet filtering will now take on new dimensions in the courts, many of the copyright, telecommunications and government information issues are certain to resurface in the new Congress. I testified in early December before the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science on a proposal to restructure the dissemination of government information, a topic that is certain to be widely discussed at our Midwinter Meeting.

I have worked with ALA staff and representatives of BSMG to approach potential partners for the Campaign for America’s Libraries. I was very encouraged by the interest in libraries by these organizations and hope we can announce some exciting possibilities soon. Both John Berry and I are participating in training sessions at ALA, and I have spoken at library meetings around the country and beyond, calling for widespread adoption of the @ your library brand. Enthusiasm for this exciting ALA communications initiative is high in the field. (See my Web site travel schedule for a list of chapters visited over the past few months.)

Media

During Banned Books Week, I conducted more than twenty radio and print interviews. I also hosted a chat room on Salon’s Table Talk site. Every one of these interviews was highly supportive of the role of libraries in our information society; none focused on Internet safety. Many interviewers were unaware of the exciting new services libraries offer and the challenges facing us.I also conducted several interviews related to other topics including Library Card Sign Up Month, Internet training, the changing role of libraries, and the role of libraries in supporting the alternative press.

I participated in the U.S. Postal Service ceremony dedicating a new business-rate library postal stamp featuring the New York Public Library lion, Patience. Joined by Paul LeClerq from NYPL and the stamp’s artist, a fellow New Yorker and heavy library user, we discussed the important role of libraries to a large audience of students and stamp collectors attending the annual Philatelic Show at the Javits Center in New York. Paul and I signed several hundred programs that instantly became collector’s items along with the first-day-issue cancelled stamp. The USPS presented us with several cancelled first-day issues and plaques with reproductions of the stamp: Patience, the lion. Collectors are welcome to contact me.

My article titled “Assessing Internet Access: The Public Library Meets the First Amendment in the Information Age” was just published in the fall First Amendment issue of the Media Studies Journal. I am happy to make copies available. Another article, “Libraries, the Internet, and Democracy,” was just published in the Neal-Schuman book Managing the Internet Controversy.

Bridging the Digital Divide

I participated in a Soros Open Society Institute forum on Democracy and the Digital Divide in late June. Since last spring, I have spoken on several occasions on this topic, including the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility DIAC Symposium, the Reforma National Conference, the Tucson Economic Development Council, the Colorado Library Association, NELA, and the National Communication Association (NCA), where I shared the podium with Larry Irving. NCA and the International Communications Association (ICA) are both interested in working with ALA to bridge the digital divide through a service learning project that will involve communications and library science students in training people in under-served communities to use new technologies through their libraries. I have developed a grant proposal and will work with ICA and NCA to seek funders.

I urge members to attend my Midwinter President’s Program “The Digital Divide and Information Equity: Challenges for Libraries in the 21st Century.” The program will feature former Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Larry Irving, and a panel of telecommunication experts, followed by small group discussions to help ALA frame an information equity agenda as part of ALAction 2005. Also at Midwinter, I will host a press conference announcing a new Kaiser Family Foundation project focusing on teens and the digital divide. The Washington Office is distributing a new brochure on this topic and has developed a page on the OITP Web site.

At the IFLA meeting in Jerusalem, ALA colleagues met with Ross Shimon and the chair of FAIFE to discuss how the G8 library associations can work with less developed countries to help bridge the digital divide. To begin, ALA agreed to collect stories about the role the Internet can play in changing lives. ALA will also encourage the worldwide adoption of our @ your library brand, using it to promote access to resources and technology in places where libraries are the only opportunity for people to participate in the information age. Interest in collecting stories was also expressed at the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility conference last spring in Seattle. Students at Evergreen State College are now working with me and the National Communications Association to develop a Web site to collect stories about the value of Internet and library resources to people worldwide.

ALA Activities

I have worked with the Executive Board and ALA staff to frame next steps for our discourse about Core Values. Patricia Schuman has agreed to chair a new committee that will meet at Midwinter to formulate questions for discussions hosted by the chapters and ALA units. Chapter, Division, and Round Table Councilors can play a key role by facilitating discussions with their respective units. Executive Board member Sally Reed is summarizing our actions relative to outsourcing in preparation for recommending next steps for addressing this topic.

At Midwinter, I will host a meeting with ALA Standing and Council Committee chairs to help develop knowledgeable, effective committee leaders. Currently, ALA hosts formal orientation programs for division and round table leaders, but has no comparable program for committees. ALA officers will also meet with our IFLA partners, COSLA, and representatives from the Library of Congress to discuss common concerns and actions.

In closing, I want ALA members to know what an honor and privilege it is to represent you at forums throughout the country and around the world. ALA is well regarded wherever I go. I look forward to launching our Campaign for America’s Libraries in the spring and meeting with members at our Midwinter Meeting in Washington and throughout the country over the next six months.

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October 21, 2000

Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy

Over the past four months, I have worked on numerous projects to advance my presidential theme—Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy. The August issue of American Libraries featured “Smart Voting Starts @ Your Library,” which has now gone into a second printing and is available on my Web site. We have written to all the organizations featured in the publication to let them know we are partners with them in promoting access to good voting information.

An NEH Chairman’s grant was submitted to promote libraries as civic forums, focusing on deliberative democracy both onsite and online. NEH recommended that we resubmit as a planning grant. I am working with ALA’s Public Programs Office to determine next steps for working with our partners in this project: the Walt Whitman Center for the Study of the Culture and Politics of Democracy at Rutgers University; Web Lab, a New York-based non-profit that encourages and supports innovation on the Web; and National Video Resources (NVR). I addressed the Board of NVR earlier this month and indicated ALA’s interest in and commitment to promoting high-quality video programming in libraries.

My Emerging Democracies committee has worked with me to develop a proposal to fund a forum for library associations in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The group met several times at IFLA and spoke with representatives from those countries’ library associations and with potential funders. We have tentatively scheduled a meeting in Tblisi for early May, with the expectation that we will raise the necessary monies to send a delegation from the U.S. and support participation from all three countries.

I am in the midst of compiling a book on the topic of libraries and democracy to be published next spring by ALA Editions, the publishing imprint of ALA, with contributions from an impressive list of authors and quotes on this topic.

My Advocacy and Information Literacy Community Partnerships Committees are working together to follow up on the training and partnerships assembly meetings held at the ALA Annual Conference. An action pack and advocacy training kit are complete and ready to take on the road. Another training session is planned for Midwinter, along with a meeting with members of the National Forum on Information Literacy to determine next steps for partnership building. The  Information Literacy Community Partnerships draft tool kit is available.

I convened a meeting with staff and committee chairs of the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC), Committee on Legislation (COL), Public Awareness Committee (PAC), ALA Chapter Relations Office, ALA Public Information Office (PIO), and ALTA to discuss ALA’s advocacy efforts. All agreed that after more than 10 years of successful publishing and training efforts, we now need staff committed to these critical ongoing efforts. PIO has determined that an open position can be redescribed to incorporate responsibilities for training, message development, coordination, story collecting, and managing our speaker’s network.

I have met with staff and representatives of BSMG to discuss media and corporate partnerships for the Campaign for America’s Libraries. On speaking occasions at library meetings around the country and beyond, I have called for participation by all libraries. Enthusiasm for this exciting ALA communications initiative is high in the field. (See my Web site travel schedule for a list of chapters visited over the past few months.)

Media

During Banned Books Week, I conducted more than 20 radio and print interviews. I also hosted a chat room on Salon’s Table Talk site. Not one of these interviews raised any of the thorny questions about libraries and children’s safety. In fact, virtually every one of these interviews was highly supportive of the role of libraries in our information society. Many interviewers were unaware of the exciting new services libraries offer and the challenges facing us. In no instance were hosts or callers critical of their libraries. I also conducted several interviews related to other topics including Library Card Sign Up Month, Internet training, and the role of libraries in supporting the alternative press.

I was attending the Colorado Library Association meeting when the Dr. Laura show on libraries aired. Thanks to a strong sustained public relations and service record, the Denver Public Library was able to turn negative media coverage into a strong, supportive rallying cry from the public and the press for the important role the library plays in its community. In August, I was asked to submit an article for the fall First Amendment issue of Media Studies Journal entitled “Assessing Internet Access: The Public Library Meets the First Amendment in the Information Age.” I believe this is an appropriate venue for presenting our position on this important topic and will make copies available once the article is published.

Bridging the Digital Divide

I participated in a Soros Open Society Institute forum on Democracy and the Digital Divide in late June. Since then, I have spoken on several occasions on this topic, including a forum hosted by REFORMA to discuss its new white paper on this topic. I will speak on the digital divide at the National Communication Association conference in early November, sharing the podium with Larry Irving. My President’s Program at Midwinter will focus on this important issue and provide an opportunity for participants to begin to develop an ALA equity agenda.

At the IFLA meeting in Jerusalem, ALA colleagues met with Ross Shimon and the chair of FAIFE to discuss how the G8 library associations can work with less developed countries to help bridge the digital divide. To begin, ALA agreed to collect stories about the role the Internet can play in changing lives. ALA will also encourage the worldwide adoption of our @ your library brand, using it to promote access to resources and technology in places where libraries are the only opportunity for people to participate in the information age. Interest in collecting stories was also expressed by the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Students at Evergreen State College are working with me to develop a web site to collect stories worldwide during National Library Week.

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