The Buggles band mused on the death of the radio star, ironically using the medium projected to bring about the end. The video for their song Video Killed the Radio Star was the first video that aired on MTV, which ushered in an era where music video arguably engaged audiences and kept their interest in the music industry and the radio airwaves alive with song. I see the Internet and libraries the same way - as some people forecasted the end of libraries at the advent of the Internet, ubiquitous access to the Web, via innumerable mobile devices, has driven people to seek community and, yes, it has enhanced the relevance of libraries.
The advocacy work of the Michigan Library Association is rooted in the belief that libraries are essential and that we must continue to express the relevance of access to information in a connected community setting. Libraries can provide both access to information as well as community spaces for learning, events, and interaction. We must also work to remain relevant by knowing the needs of our communities, including everyone as part of our community, and keeping up on trends, technology, and education. If you haven’t checked on the ALA Library of the Future and the Trends page I highly recommend it.
Connecting with community and learning trends and topics are two reasons why I look forward to the MLA Annual Conference each fall. MLA is a Chapter of the American Library Association (ALA), which has adopted a new strategic direction focusing on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. This isn’t a trend for libraries; we have always worked to provided equal access to information for all. I am especially excited about programs at conference that will have a similar focus to the ALA efforts, including the sessions on Democratizing Library Education, Learning Equity, Access and Diversity in Education,and A Crash Course on Michigan's Social Safety Net.
Friday's Spotlight Presentation on The Path Forward: Justice, Compassion and Dignity for All looks like something that we will all benefit from attending. I hope everyone can come here this special presentation from Deborah Drennan, Executive Director of Freedom House Detroit. “Guided by their belief that all persons deserve to live free from oppression and to be treated with justice, compassion and dignity, Freedom House Detroit offers a continuum of care and services to their residents as well as to other refugees in need.” The work of Freedom House Detroit is another learning opportunity for the libraries of Michigan to examine.
At conference this year we will also have some special opportunities for annual conference attendees to connect with each other and to find those with similar interests. The Idea Exchange will be open during the conference reception and during exhibit hours. This venue will provide a means for member Interest Groups to showcase who they are and what they are working on. I am very excited that we will have time on the schedule, Thursday, from 10-11:45, for Interest Groups to meet and for individuals to seek out others with like interests to form new groups. As Interest Groups are new this year at MLA I want to encourage everyone to think about what group they may like to form or be a part of. I hope to see lots of members at the meeting!
I don't know about you but I am ready to “Escape the Ordinary” at annual conference. Don't forget that there are lots of opportunities to receive financial support to attend. We are always pleased to provide MLA Scholarships (Deadline to apply for MLA Annual 2017 is September 2, 2017). Also, there is the Library of Michigan Library Continuing Education Program, which can provide financial support to public, academic, and school libraries sending attendees to conference. Early bird registration for conference continues through September 8th! I hope to see you at conference! Let’s keep Michigan libraries going strong!
Here we go!