Friday, January 22, 2010

Boston Public Library

Maine Library Association

Report to Council & Membership

Respectfully submitted by Sonja Plummer-Morgan, President

January 22, 2010

It is my pleasure to report the activity of your Association and as president for activity during December and most of January 2010. The highlight was the ALA Midwinter Conference in Boston that I attended. In addition to learning much, I had many opportunities to network, and returned with many experiences to share. My time was spent at the conference and at the Boston Public Library.

It was a terrific surprise to see Maine librarians attend the exhibits and the presentations. Too many to name, but suffice it to say that Maine was nicely represented! I did have the privilege to work in small groups with ALA Council members working on the Strategic Planning. I loved the idea that strategic planning is a way to focus an organization and give it direction. This is, I believe, one of MLA’s greatest task ahead to wrangle a strategic plan to help us focus.

The photos that you see above were both taken at the Boston Public Library—one is an old vellum book that I found enchanting and then the self check out station that they have started offering their patrons. I spoke with staff about this machine and they said it required very little help from staff and they were pleased with it. Reserves made from home are pulled everyday and placed on a shelf for patrons to pick up.

A common themes at the ALA Midwinter Conference 2010 in Boston was advocacy, preserving our core values as librarians, innovation, and careful strategic planning to keep our libraries sustainable. There is deep concern resonating throughout the country, but I detected optimism as well fueled, I believe, by the realization that we are so very vital to communities, that we can feel professional pride and that we are valued.

Al Gore’s presentation was dynamic and a call to action to reverse or slow environmental damage. It is perhaps important to share that he was complimentary to librarians and libraries and seemed sincerely grateful for what we do and understood that the economy is increasing use.

At the exhibits, I was able to speak with the Massachusetts Library Association officers. Their top priority for 2010 is advocacy. While they are concerned about their numbers of members, they too expressed optimism and it was good to see that they took the time to create a booth. Also met and spoke with ACRL and Public Library Association representatives.

ALA presented their Budget Reduction Strategy. I’m no t sure their strategy would necessarily work for Maine libraries, but I did feel strongly that having such a strategy is something that we all need to be proactive about. Perhaps you could take some time to prepare your own or you have already started to strategize. Would love to hear what you plan to do or may do in response to the current economic state.

Advocacy was a word that frequently was spoken. Both ALA Presidential candidates mentioned its absolute importance to sustainability. Other ideas the candidates, Molly Raphael and Sara Kelly Johns, included several excellent points.

Molly emphasized diversity, core values, working effectively, raise visibility, transformative power of libraries, surge in use mandates innovative and forward thinking, and global coalitions.

Sara emphasized that her grassroot activism equipped her to connect members and resources in a new way, seeks equitable salaries, wants to change perceptions of libraries, transparency, inclusiveness, equal access, and to move fast and expertly toward a sustainable future of libraries.

Some impressive things that I saw at the exhibits…a Book Vending Machine, a Robot, and the Library of Congress Booth, self check out system, and countless persons all talking about libraries, products, and how to do things effectively and efficiently.

Some other items of interest:

· The Boston Public Library was a stunning sight. I spent time observing and using their self check out system and learned that they have 6 million books.

· Met with Alliance Library System Library Consultant in Illinois to discuss how the libraries in the state are coping with budget reductions.

· Coffee Sleeves are featured in this month’s issue of Library Journal, page 19. The Council is currently discussing another order of sleeves. Libraries all over the state have requested the sleeves and we are distributing them as quickly as we are able.

· Member-at-Large Position to be filled and appointed by the Council is soon to be announced. Two very hopeful candidates were found.

· Our Twitter account has exceeded 1,000 followers. We have groups in Facebook, Linkedin, Goodreads, and ALAConnect. This is important networking activity and keeps our association linked with fresh ideas, constituents, and connected globally.

· It’s membership drive time and the Council is considering creating a new Listserv for members only.

· See our new website for pictures, news, and Association benefits including the conference information...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Maine Library News & Pics

Maine Library in Waldoboro, Maine
Curious George Visits a Maine Library on New Year's Eve
For more pictures and news about Maine Libraries, please see