The Road to Annual: Monday, June 3

When we asked Jessica David, President of the Cranston Public Library Association, about her first library memories, she described a feeling of abundance. “As a child, I could leave the library with an armful of books, and no one would stop me.” The library belonged to David, along with everything inside it, the books as much hers as anyone else’s. For David, her avid use of the library comes with a responsibility to defend it and expand it. The crucial role advocates like David play in growing libraries and their communities was just part of the story we captured on film in Cranston today.

We were welcomed by Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library. Garcia also serves as on ALA Council and as chair of ALA’s Committee on Legislation. Garcia first got involved in ALA at our 2008 Annual Conference in New Orleans. ALA's was the first convention to return to the city in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, providing crucial dollars to the local economy. Garcia worked with other association members to help clean up the yard of a public library branch at that first event. “That was a powerful experience,” he says, one that taught him that “we could do good things together.”


Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library, ALA Councilor, and chair of ALA’s Committee on Legislation, records an interview with ALA President Emily Drabinski.

Garcia helped assemble a panel of librarians and library supporters, all of whom shared stories of strong community partnerships and public programming and outreach to every part of Rhode Island communities. West Warwick Public Library Director Colin McCullough talked about a partnership to bring Narcan supplies and training to his community, normalizing both the library as a safe space and the act of caring for each other in that way. Elena Rios, Youth Services Librarian at Cranston Public, described story time programs scheduled in the evenings so that entire families could attend. David spoke about the importance of public engagement with libraries as a way to broaden our base of support. State Representative David Morales (D-District 7) put libraries at the heart of the public good, the best example of what governments can do.


Youth Services Librarian and 2023-24 ALA Emerging Leader Elena Rios at work at Cranston Public Library.


Rhode Island State Representative David Morales records an interview with ALA President Emily Drabinski at Cranston Public Library.

Before and after the panel, we recorded interviews with panelists as well as Garcia, Karen Mellor, Rhode Island’s Chief of Library Services, and State Senator Mark McKenney (D-District 30). We learned so much about Rhode Island’s libraries, how they support their communities, and the crucial role state and federal legislative support can play in expanding our capacity. It was a full work day, for sure, excited to see what tomorrow’s drive south will bring.

Mileage: 0

Soundtrack: Room tone