Thursday, May 04, 2006

Keynote address

Keynote address
Originally uploaded by sreymer.
Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director, talked about some of the issues he considers crucial to libraries:

  • Library funding and advocacy as a way to sustain/increase library funding.
  • Planning at local, state and federal level.
  • Libraries have to be seen key players in education.
  • We want to improve library services by attracting the best and brightest to the field - provide training at all levels, resource sharing and recognizing outstanding service as well as that which needs improvement.
  • Improve library salaries one librarian at a time.
  • Libraries and librarians improve the world by serving all, promoting diversity, fighting to protect the constitutional rights of library users, fighting to keep information free and accessible for all, and helping to develop libraries internationally.
In answer to the question, will libraries survive? Keith was optimistic. He thinks we need to be part of an emerging virtual learing commnity. Not only will public and school libraries continue to serve the have nots, but they also provide a sense of community for all generations.

Every library should be linked by technology and by people who know how to use it.

He ended by letting the audience know that what we do is incredbily important to our communities and the world.

1 comment:

RichW said...

I just want to add a few items to Suzanne's fine coverage of the keynote.

Milla did an outstanding job of introducing the speakers including Missoula’s Mayor John Engen and ALA’s Keith Michael Fields (keynote).

Mayor Engen, using notes on his Blackberry “wireless system for mobile professionals,” gave participants a short, humorous, “politically correct” welcome to MLA’s 100th Anniversary Missoula Conference.

Keith Fields followed with the keynote, beginning with the applauded proclamation that, “. . . I’m a librarian!” He continued by addressing five challenges that we all face as librarians. Within the purview of library funding, Fields added that we should consider the impact of library services on users, make plans and provide vision for progress at all levels (local, state, and federal), and make use of research which documents the value of libraries to decision-makers.

Addressing the provision of library support, Fields stressed the importance of professional development for library workers—not necessarily only those with an MLS, seeking to provide a gateway to all information (“everything”), and the measurement of library quality and improvement. Regarding library salaries, he declared that we should try to improve the situation “one librarian at a time.” He suggested making use of toolkits and statistics made available through ALA initiatives.

Other challenges included serving all socioeconomic levels in our societies by leading the way toward increased diversity, protecting the constitutional rights of library users, maintaining free access to information to protect and strengthen democracy, fighting efforts to weaken or eliminate the principle of fair use, leading the world by becoming more involved in international relations as librarians, and learning from library initiatives in other countries.

Finally, Fields suggested that libraries were important as tangible representations of democracy, embodiments of equal opportunity, for a more intelligent and knowledgeable society, and a key to economic wellbeing through providing global access to information.

Keith Fields concluded that we could reach these goals and meet these challenges through “hard work and persistence.”