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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Why ALA Midwinter? Frontline Advocacy

I’m here in Boston reading the tons of committee reports for my liaison visits, executive board duties, etc., but secretly counting down the minutes til the exhibit floors open. I love EXHIBIT HALLS! It’s a chance to meet authors, publishers, and old friends. Moreover, you get to touch the new books. My feet will take me to look at audio books, furniture, supplies, and trends in technology, but my heart will be with the book vendors. 

Boston Attending Why ALA Midwinter? Frontline AdvocacyEveryone will tell you the Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association is where the work of the association gets done.  For many committees this is their first meeting; for others, they have already been working all year. The focus is not on programs and yet there are some interesting ones to attend. There are speeches, author presentations, parties with the most exciting event being the Youth Media Awards on Monday morning. 

One of the surprisingly exciting panels this year is Camila Alire’s Frontline Advocacy panel. The website is live (even though its’ still being tweaked), and I couldn’t wait to share the link with you:  www.ala.org/frontlineadvocacy .  

I’ve spent this early morning reading one section called Where School Is Cool! Frontline Advocacy for School Libraries Toolkit.  These toolkits acknowledge the importance of the frontline people – not just the school librarian. The person working the desk, the person in the office downstairs directing people to the library, parents discussing the library, active students – these are our frontline. I hope you will take a moment to check out the link. 

This will be a very busy conference for me with meetings. I keep my google calendar online so I can graphically view my days and plan how to be in 3 places at once several times. Serving on the executive board involves ALOT of meetings. Then there are the council meetings, orientations, receptions, and forums to attend. Then there are my liaisons with the Intellectual Freedom Committee, the Public Awareness Committee, the Election Committee, the Committee on the Status of Women in Libraries, the Federal & Armed Forces Libraries Round Table, the Chinese American Library Association, and the exciting division ALSC – the Association for Library Service to Children.

Lots of meetings with wonderful people and a couple wild characters, too. One of the events I’m most looking forward to is meeting former Vice-president Al Gore before his lecture. One of my teachers allowed her students to write letters to Mr. Gore for me to give him asking him to visit our school. Here is a paragraph from one of their letters for you:

"I don’t really know about you because I was in kindergarten or the 1st grade. I am sure all of the JFK students would enjoy meeting you. It would be an honor to have you come… Maybe, just maybe, if you decide to run for president in 3-6 years from now, us future voters will vote for you. Keep that in mind. Mr. Gore, please come to John F Kennedy Middle School. So, if I run for president, I could say, "When Al Gore came to my school, he inspired me to run for president. I hope to be an inspiration for someone, too."

Another student wrote: "My dream is to win a Noble <sic> Peace Prize, and become a chef and win Iron Chef. ..If you could please come to JFK Middle that would be great! I would also get to brag to my friends that I met you. Could you please bring the Noble Peace Prize so I can see it up close and in person? Also, if you come could I have your autograph? Will you have the Secret Service with you? Do they ever talk or do they just remain silent?