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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Molly Raphael chats

After the ALA election results were announced, I was able to reach Molly Raphael to ask a few questions.
Diane:  Congratulations on your election as ALA President for the 2011-2012 term. What are you most looking forward to in your presidency?

Molly: My platform stated three areas of focus from ALA’s strategic priorities:

  • advocacy: having our constituents tell our story by telling their stories of the transformative power of libraries as well as leveraging research results;
  • diversity: with particular emphasis on retention and connecting diversity and leadership development efforts; and
  • defending our core values of intellectual freedom, equity of access, and privacy.

What I am looking forward to is building on the work that ALA, through its leadership, has been doing in these areas with our recent renewed sense of urgency.

Diane:  Sara Kelly Johns, your oponent for ALA president, was supported by many school librarians throughout the country who felt now was the time for a school librarian to head ALA. What is your reaction to their feeling that only a school librarian could represent the interests of school libraries?

Molly:  I disagree. ALA presidents can and must represent all types of libraries and their issues. I certainly plan to do so. 

Diane:  I know you’ll be working with ALA staff members to establish the initiatives for your term as president, but can you give us any hints how you will help involve school librarians?

I look forward to working with the new president-elect of AASL, Carl Harvey. Clearly, when there are issues specific to school libraries, I expect to work closely with Carl and others that he may bring to the table in developing a plan of action. In addition, I hope that members of AASL will volunteer for ALA-wide committees. I know that any task forces and ad hoc committees that I appoint will have broad and diverse membership, including school librarians. 

Diane:  I agree with the importance of school librarians volunteering and serving on ALA-wide committees. We complain loudly, but volunteer invisibly. While president-elects work over their year to appoint committee members, they continually admit there are not enough school librarians actually volunteering, filling out the simple form, and accepting the offers to serve. This trend must change. School librarians need to keep reaching out to the whole-wide organization. 

Molly:  I agree wholeheartedly that "it’s time to build bridges." The responsibilities of the office lie ahead. It is time to honor and pursue the pledges made during the campaign. As I stated in response to your first question, the tasks ahead are to advocate equally for the roles of academic, public, school, and special libraries in society; to promote diversity; and to defend our core values of intellectual freedom, equity of access, and privacy rights. Of equal importance is the task of sustaining and strengthening sound governance and strategic planning for ALA, especially in the fiscal arena. I am looking forward to working with newly elected Treasurer Jim Neal. He is a superb choice to meet the fiscal challenges that we face today and will undoubtedly lie ahead. While governance, financial management and strategic planning are regarded sometimes as boring, bureaucratic responsibilities, I am ever mindful that ALA’s mission, including the pursuit of the needs and interests of school libraries and school librarians, absolutely depends on ALA’s being a vibrant, financially healthy organization. I look forward to working with the Executive Board, Council, ALA staff, and all units of ALA to build our desired future together.