Letter from Debbie

August 27, 2020

Hard to believe, but here we are…almost 6 months into this global pandemic. There is so much to still take in on a daily basis but I think the waters have calmed enough for us to get another gulp of air. I am hopeful that a second wave is not in our immediate future.

MLA continues to monitor your progress and while some of your libraries have opened your physical doors to limited visitation by patrons, many of you are still in curbside and virtual mode…and that is okay…each community has different challenges and must act according to what is best for them. We commend you, wherever you are in the continuum of your services, on how well you have improvised, adapted and continue to overcome obstacles.

I have called it “pivoting” for the past few months but now that word doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the actions each and every one of us has taken; the precautions we have put into place; and the weird and wonderful discoveries, personal and professional, that we have experienced since March. I have said over and over again that our mission and goals haven’t changed, just the method of delivery – virtual in every sense. It is remarkable how much the gaps in broadband coverage, technology, and access to equipment has climbed on our priority lists since the pandemic began. There are so many in our state that do not have home, and now school, access to technology and the internet. Our libraries are critical and essential places to equalizing this gap and providing even our most vulnerable and disenfranchised citizens with access to the internet.

I am also totally impressed by how each of you are addressing the challenges of racial inequities that are so prevalent in our society. Each and every one of us must do more to bring equity, diversity and inclusion into our conversations and provide actionable steps to keep this at the forefront. Last week, our coffee hour featured Jocelyn Giangrande who presented “Library Culture: Building Awareness, Trust and Best Practices Around Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” It was an inspiring session, but just scratched the surface of this important topic. We are hoping to bring Jocelyn back next spring for one of our workshops to explore deeper and to have her work internally with the MLA Board this year to put our words into action. Next month, the MLA Board will be looking at a proposal to add a non-discrimination clause into our bylaws and also directing our nominating committee to present a slate of nominees that mirror Michigan’s racial demographics. These changes once approved by the MLA Board will be put in front of the MLA membership for a formal vote at the October 29 annual meeting.

I hope you are well and making good choices as this pandemic wears on and the world keeps revolving. We are here for you (albeit from our remote workspaces) when you need us, so please reach out. Sometimes just a familiar voice at the other end of the line keeps us motivated.

Sincerely,

Debbie Signatiure

Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director

 

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