Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Address at TLA General Assembly II, 26 April 2006 and a Library Visit

I. Here's a copy of my (very burnt orange!) four minute address at the Texas Library Association general assembly, 26 April 2006, 3:30 p.m.

Voting in the American Library Association election ended three days ago. And on this coming Monday, May first, Keith Michael Fiels, Executive Director of ALA, will call the two candidates for ALA President 2007-2008 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with the election results. I hope that you were among the record number of ALA members who voted.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to address you, members of TLA, at this, my 20th TLA conference. I was invited to speak to you as a candidate for ALA President about my campaign priorities. I have identified three platform issues that, I believe, impact all of our working lives, our libraries, and the people we serve.

My first platform issue is including all in the circle of literacy. We now know that one in 20 adults in the United States is not literate in English. That’s about 11 million individuals. Libraries should be at the frontline in efforts to increase literacy and promote reading. In these efforts we need to make sure that we extend our services to all members of our communities, especially young and emerging readers, elders, immigrants, and those in our jails and prison systems.

My second platform issue is a workplace wellness campaign called Healthy ALA, a new venture for ALA. My interest in wellness and health care stems from my prior career working as an X-ray tech in community hospitals and also through the personal experience of having a son with special needs and a sister and father with disabilities. I know how health concerns impact families and affect our work lives. As employers we are concerned with providing library workers with adequate health coverage and workplace support through times of physical challenges. As workers, we want to follow healthy lifeways that help us perform our best and lead fulfilled lives.

My third platform issue is supporting librarian education through practice. As a Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, a top ten school of library and information science, I am fortunate to be involved in the daily education of next-generation librarians. Librarian education, though, is the responsibility of all of us and I invite the larger community to become involved in preparing new librarians.

I cannot fully address these platform issues on my own. I have gathered an Envisioning Circle of individuals to help me in this task. I will also need your help.

I am proud to be an Anishinabe, a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, enrolled on the White Earth Reservation in western Minnesota. I am also proud to be an Honorary Texan. Like many of you, I watched an important sports event on television this past January. Y’all know the outcome of that Rose Bowl game and the final score: UT 41 points, USC 38. At the end of the first half of the game, we heard Walter Cronkite’s voice proclaim the new promotional campaign for the University of Texas: “We’re Texas. What starts here changes the world.” TLA has always known and lived their interpretation of “We’re TLA. What Start here changes the world?” Let’s go forward in changing the world. Hook ‘em horns.

Library Visit #3: Liberty Hill (Texas) Public Library

This afternoon I drove an hour north of Austin to the town of Liberty Hill (population approx. 1400) to observe the work of Capstone student, Delia Fantova. She did a wonderful job of providing introductory TexShare training to the library staff. She had a prepared outline, outlining key examples and urls that the staff can refer to after her visit. She encouraged the staff to explore common usage of the database, including use for genealogy and health/wellness. The staff were very receptive, grateful, and enthusiastic! They work in a lovely four-year building resembling a typical Texas homestead including a residential style bathroom and ceiling fans. Their building has a ramada style porch, a tin-roof, and is surfaced with Texas limestone. The grounds feature a live oak and Texas native plants. Lovely place to work; felt like home!