What's in a Name?

rod gauvin by Rod Gauvin
ALTAFF President

An organization’s image is a vital asset that can make a real difference in its success. A key component of that image — whatever audiences the organization serves — is its name. Very soon, you will be asked to vote on a matter that’s important to the image of our young organization: a modification to its name.

Those who were present at the formation of ALTAFF will remember that the merger of the Association for Libraries Trustees and Advocates (ALTA) and Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) was done in a collegial spirit with the intent of being as inclusive as possible. It was that spirit of inclusion that spurred this new ALA division to adopt a name for the organization that represented all of the groups keenly interested in the future of the libraries, including Trustees, Friends, advocates, and Foundations.

While the name behind the acronym ALTAFF certainly represents all of its constituent groups, it is a mouthful to say, and worse, its acronym isn’t easily deciphered. To help address the problem, we adopted the tagline “Citizens for Libraries” to evoke a more passionate and immediate response to who we are and what our organization does.

The response to that tagline has been universally positive. Indeed, it has been so positive that after careful thought, the Board has approved a change to the name of our organization to “Citizens for Libraries: Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations.” The name tells very clearly who we are and what we care about.

Further, this new name retains a connection to our roots by referencing both Trustees and Friends. It links us to ALTA’s history of understanding what it is to be a Trustee, concerned with governance in library administration. And it reminds us of FOLUSA’s strong recognition of Friends groups’ impact on fundraising and advocacy efforts. Looking forward, the name reflects Foundations, which can raise meaningful sums of money to support the library’s mission. In short, we are not leaving the past behind; we hope to transfer the recognition and the respect for our predecessor organizations to this new, more powerful, organization.

I ask you to vote yes in your ballot package on the question of modifying the name of ALTAFF to “Citizens for Libraries: Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations” and the simplification and minor changes of our bylaws. Thanks for your support!

Yours for libraries,

Rod Gauvin
ALTAFF President

Read more articles from ALTAFF president Rod Gauvin.