Letter from Debbie

October 22, 2020

Even in a global pandemic, working remotely, MLA’s staff and board continue our 129-year legacy of helping libraries and library professionals succeed all across Michigan. Our upcoming virtual annual conference, “Charting a New Course, Together,” will continue our mission to lead the advancement of all libraries through advocacy, education and engagement. This event is always a culmination of the work we do together – our staff, our board, our work groups, and our membership.

With over 700 individuals registered it will be fun to “see” such a large cross-sector of our membership with such varied perspectives of the library profession at this event. Having different perspectives helps generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a changing—and increasingly diverse—world. And, I believe that real change occurs when we work together. When our public, academic, school and special libraries work together, we experience a greater impact on the lives of those we serve and in the communities where we reside, and we move the needle on issues that affect us all.

And the greatest issue any of us has ever experienced in our lifetimes has been on our plates these past eight months.

As you all know, we are living through extraordinary and difficult times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has impaired and impacted the daily lives of nearly everyone on the planet. As we learn more every day about this disease that has gripped our world, there is still so much uncertainty about what our collective future holds. But, what we do know is that our lives have forever been changed and we need to chart a new course. How appropriate that we’ve titled our annual conference, “Charting a New Course, Together.”

Originally a naval term, where you would use charts to navigate the way, 'charting a course' is deciding your route. In metaphoric terms – it means creating a plan to achieve some goal. And that is exactly what libraries throughout Michigan are doing to address the global pandemic at their local institutions. Libraries have had to adapt and change and pivot to a new reality, and I must say that with all that you have taken on in the last eight months, you are doing an extraordinary job of charting a new course. It is time to explore new ideas and institute new ways of delivering your services. This is a time of change, and of deep challenges, but also a way forward to the future. And we’ll do it together. Because as you know, we are #StrongerTogether!

Our promise to you is that MLA will work on your behalf to help resolve those challenges, and build on the strengths and successes that will make us stand strong when it comes to the work you do to promote life-long learning, serve as cultural hubs, protectors of freedom of information, bring together diverse populations, provide access for all, act as the primary point of online access, battle illiteracy, narrow the digital divide and allows us to move into the future as creatively as we can.

For those of you already registered, we will see you soon. And if you haven’t registered yet, there is still time. Go to https://www.milibraries.org/annual-conference and we’ll get you signed up. It’s going to be a great two days together.

Debbie Signatiure

Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director


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