An Ethos of Hospitality

Each candidate for ALA President is given the opportunity to submit a one-page statement for the March/April issue of American Libraries (now online). I am grateful to everyone who engaged in conversations with me in person, via Facebook, and on Twitter to share their hopes and concerns about the association. I look forward to hearing more – whether about the specifics I have put forth here or on other topics.

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

“creating an ethos of hospitality that welcomes all members
and removes barriers to participation”

My theme “Colleagues Connecting Communities” reflects what we do in our libraries and represents the work of ALA. I am very proud of ALA and the work that we do together as colleagues. We have a strong Code of Ethics that guides our practice. We are an influential force in policy-making. We engage important conversations around privacy and intellectual freedom. We are leaders in using technology to advance access to information.

By joining together as a community of colleagues, we accomplish more than we can alone. We raise the visibility of the impact that libraries have in our communities. We challenge each other to innovate and transform our practices. We support each other. We are strong.

But, we can be stronger. ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world. ALA should also be the most engaged library association in the world. Unfortunately, we have many talented members and non-members who are not yet engaged in our collective work.

ALA must be a platform for participation and empowerment. My focus will be on creating an ethos of hospitality that welcomes all members and removes barriers to participation across the association.

Many in ALA have worked to identify and eliminate practices of exclusion; however, an ethos of hospitality requires more. We must also create and support practices of inclusion. It is not enough to remove barriers; we must also build bridges. We must intentionally create space for diversity to strengthen ALA as an inclusive and collegial community of practice.

To begin, here are four specific actions to build the ethos of hospitality that you can expect from me:

  1. I will charge my appointments committee to appoint at least one person who has not previously served on an ALA committee to each committee. I took this approach as ACRL President and welcomed many newer members of the profession into leadership positions and increased the diversity of committee membership.
  2. I commit to using ALA President funds to support promising exemplars of digital inclusion and to share those practices across the association.  ALA policy has been revised to allow the association to conduct its work virtually; however, many of our practices reflect historic reliance on in-person meetings. These practices exclude members who are unable to travel to ALA conferences for financial, health, work, etc. reasons. We can do better.
  3. I will re-engage the vision of previous ALA President Mitch Freedman for the ALA Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA). Library workers need a strong organization to advocate for improved wages, benefits, etc. As ALA-APA President, I will be a strong voice for library workers and seek to grow the influence of ALA-APA.
  4. I believe that ALA must re-examine the long-term viability of holding two conferences each year and the effect of doing so on member engagement and on the ecosystem of division and state chapter conferences. As ALA President, I will bring to the Executive Board a proposal for a task force on the future of ALA conferences to systematically and inclusively consider this topic.

As your ALA President, I will be a passionate voice for libraries and library workers, for dismantling exclusion, and for pursuing an ethos of hospitality and inclusion.  I welcome the opportunity to lead ALA and ALA-APA. We are a strong community of practice that can be made stronger. I ask for your vote.