President’s Message – November/December 2020

By John Walsh

I can only hope that this year looks a lot better in everyone’s rearview mirror. It’s hard to remember what normality was while we are doing so many things differently. All of these changes we have endured, I believe, will help us be better, as library staff, as libraries, and as an association. One thing that has been constant, one of the saving graces of all this, is the dedication I have witnessed in the library folks who  continue their commitment to the people and communities we serve. That is commendable and needs to be recognized by all of us. We, the library staff,  are the libraries, and we are more than the buildings we work in.

Through the turmoil of all these changes, AzLA has continued to be proactive in its advocacy for librarianship, social justice, and EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion). Our Legislative Committee and Teacher Librarian Division teamed up to support the Prop 208 initiative that, if passed, will bring much needed funding to teacher librarians in the state. The organization’s leadership also issued a statement in response to the outcry for social justice and equity that followed the death of George Floyd this past spring. We are now focusing on how we can influence and support this movement through librarianship. 

The Executive Board has commissioned the development of a Land Acknowledgement Statement to recognize that our libraries in Arizona benefit greatly from the Native American lands and resources. The Board has also formed an ad hoc EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Committee. The committee is charged with defining EDI for the AzLA organization, exploring current EDI initiatives, and developing an EDI strategic action plan for the AzLA organization. It was such a pleasure to witness how many members were interested in becoming part of the committee, a real testament to the passion that exists in our membership for this cause. The committee is meeting regularly and it’s exciting to see the progress we have already made. As we move forward, we will be better champions of social and racial equity in our libraries, in the communities we serve, and among our library colleagues.

The leadership is also in the process of changing infrastructure elements that should help us as we progress to be better. We are reviewing the bylaws for amending and an ad hoc Fee Restructure Committee has been charged with making recommendations to the board for restructuring member and institutional fees in an effort to increase membership, and to develop a process to conduct a periodic review of fees. We will be introducing our new fee structure and COPPER membership at Divisional Directors Meetings scheduled for December and January. Before signing off, I have to give a shout out to the Conference Committee, the Programming Committee and the State Library for everything they have done to present the Annual Conference webinar series that started on October 14 and will have weekly webinars through December. These are such unpredictable times for libraries, but I have confidence that together, as one group, we can overcome any challenges we face as we move from COVID to postCOVID. I look forward to bringing the president’s message to the members in each newsletter. Be well and be safe all.

Leave a Reply