JP Porcaro – Candidate for President of the American Library Association
My platform for my time as ALA President revolves around ensuring a stronger future for librarianship.
Presidential initiative: We know from the data [OCLC – “From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America”] that a positive perception of librarians and staff is more important to people than their perception of libraries as organizations. That report suggests “targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries.” I will challenge ALA to embark on a large-scale public relations campaign demonstrating that it’s the staff that makes a library.
Marginalized Voices: In an increasingly diverse and still hurting country, we need to show off the diverse faces of librarianship. We need to continue to look inward while taking our message outward. Comparing diversity figures between 1985-2012, we have had little change attracting people of color to our field. Without a focus on building, cultivating, and listening to a diverse body of librarians, we cannot hope to have a better future for our profession. Including underrepresented voices in a marketing push about us — about my colleagues — will help people who have never thought of “libraries as a career” to better see themselves in that role.
Future of the profession in the future of the ALA: My sons are growing up without a school librarian. They are 8 & 10. They have never had a school librarian. What happens when this generation grows up and hits the ballot box? We need to publicly demonstrate the value of library staff in all types of libraries, now. Without public, voter, and funder support for our librarians, we risk losing our libraries. This is both a now issue and a future issue. A strong national association will help us achieve the goal of strong public support for libraries. Finding new ways to engage librarians who do not, are not, or cannot engage with the ALA will be a larger and larger issue with each passing year.
Along with my platform, there are many issues & concerns that are very important to the me:
* The high cost of participation in this organization is a barrier. We need to find better ways to support librarians who cannot afford to be part of the ALA and its affiliates.
* NMRT aside, lack of support for student-to-librarian transition by LIS programs and the ALA has been a largely ignored issue for some time. This created a vacuum that was only (& nearly completely) filled by INALJ in 2012. LIS programs AND ALA are completely eclipsed by INALJ as far as newly degreed librarians are concerned. This is just one example of how the ALA has failed at listening to its membership. We need to do a better job of listening, lest we spin into irrelevance.
* The “Stand up for Intellectual Freedom” issue is as fresh for us as ever, with Net Neutrality as the newest IF issue on our radar. We need to stay vigilant in our fight for the freedom of expression for our users.
* Full-time, salaried library jobs are being replaced by part-time, low-wage jobs. These conversations are happening everywhere; as president, I will bring these conversations to the forefront, and address them by working with the ALA-APA and our various stake-holders.”
photo by Kyle Cassidy