Advocacy is defined as the art or process of supporting a cause or proposal. As librarians, we advocate for many causes. Literacy, freedom of information, access to resources, entertainment, education, enlightenment…the list goes on and on. But we may be less likely to advocate for ourselves as librarians. And why is that? Are we not “worthy” of being advocated for? Is the work we do not important? Do we not changes lives each and every day? I say OF COURSE we do! That is why I am so pleased with the theme of this year’s MLA Conference “Advocacy for Our Libraries, Our Profession, and Ourselves.” Our libraries are worth supporting, as is the profession of librarianship. And the most support of all should go to ourselves as the front-line librarians bringing the magic to our people. Quite honestly, librarians are pretty awesome. And Montana librarians are particularly special.
I am so excited that Erica Findley, Cataloging/Metadata Librarian at Multnomah County Library (OR) has agreed to join us to present the keynote address. Erica is passionate about libraries and was a 2012 ALA Emerging Leader and serves as an at-large member of the ALA Governing Council. Her discussion is sure to be invigorating and I urge you all to attend. This and many other wonderful programs and events are in store for you over the next few days, all designed to support you and the amazing work you do on behalf of Montana’s libraries and your local communities. And please allow me to put in a plug for the Cates fundraising event on Wednesday evening. This year’s event, the “Where in the World is Sheila Cates Geography Bee” raises funds for Montana librarians who wish to pursue a Master’s degree in library science. Your attendance at this very fun event allows you to encompass all aspects of our conference theme. You will be advocating for libraries, the profession, and Montana’s librarians in particular. This care for each other is so very vital to our library community.
I encourage you to make the most of your time at conference and hope you will take some time to ponder advocacy and what it means to your community, your library, and to you as a library professional. And please talk to your colleagues about these issues - we learn as much at our informal interactions as we do at programs.
I also encourage you to participate in MLA governance events (yes, the membership meeting is important) and find out what you can do to contribute. MLA is a volunteer organization and each of you can make a difference! MLA is very much an advocacy organization – with your support, our voices can be heard more broadly.
Finally, don’t forget to take the time to visit and thank our wonderful and engaging vendors. The support of vendors is crucial to a good conference. Can’t wait to “advocate” with all of you!