A Message from OLA President Elsa Loftis
Does it even count as a New Year’s resolution if you start in mid-March? I’ve been meditating on, intending to, just about to, and almost gotten around to … writing for the OLA Hotline for quite some time now. My apologies for not using this platform more often as a way to communicate with the OLA membership more regularly. It seems appropriate to send out a message here to you all besides the occasional Libs-OR listserv blasts you may have seen from me now and then.
I will say that life as OLA president is busy, and I’d like to share with you some of what has been on my plate. What has struck me so far, now that I have about half of my time as president under my belt, is how much fun it is to work with the wonderful people who dedicate their time and energy in so many different ways to the association. That was what drew me to serve in OLA all along—the people. In my work life I am a solo librarian, which is why being active in our library association has been so crucial for me—it maintains my connection to the other wonderful people in our community, and keeps me energized in my work. But enough about me. Let’s talk about some of what’s been going on in OLA, or at least what I’ve had my hands on lately.
One very important project I was able to help out with was the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) task force. With wonderful leadership from Jen Mauer at the State Library, and Robin Rolfe and Peggy Christiansen from OASL, along with many others who dedicated their time and energy, we were able to make connections with the Oregon Department of Education to try to get school libraries in the front of their minds as they draft our state’s implementation plan for ESSA. If you are interested in learning more about what the Department of Ed is doing, please refer to this link, and refer to the letter that we wrote to them with our respectful recommendations here.
In other news, a current event in Oregon Libraryland which we are very saddened by is the impending closure of the Douglas County Public Library, as they have been defunded and the measure which would have created a library district in that county did not pass at the November election. We will do what we can to be supportive to the library workers and library supporters in Douglas County, and are keeping up with their efforts to find alternatives to closing completely. We hope to offer input and guidance if we can do so to the Library Futures Task Force that has recently begun meeting. Our amazing OLA vice president Buzzy Nielsen has been in touch with people down there to offer his unique perspective as a former library director of Hood River County, a community that faced a similar closure.
In brighter news, the Library Development and Legislative Committee put on yet another wonderful Legislative Day at the Capitol Building in Salem on February 21st. Our last count was that 20 of 30 senators and 46 of 60 representatives had selected books to donate to their local libraries. According to Janet Webster, this is probably out best turnout yet! This is such an important advocacy effort, and I can speak first hand and say that it was fun! Please consider going next time if you have never done so, it is a wonderful event.
You may have noticed a new look for the OLA website if you have travelled there recently. Our Association Manager, Shirley Roberts has worked wonders with our web administrator, Memberclicks, to perform an upgrade which I hope improves the look and navigability of the site. We still have some work to do there, though, and a website task force will be meeting in the near future now that the upgrade is complete to discuss content and user experience. Please contact me if you would like to be a part of that!
And, saving the best for last, the conference planning has been in full swing! I am so excited for the annual OLA conference (April 19-22 in Salem). The theme is “Thriving Together”, which is a tip of the hat to our addition of a Saturday program so that our members in the Oregon Association of School Libraries can more easily come and enjoy the conference. A lot of people have been working so hard to make this a fabulous conference, under the fearless leadership of Michele Burke, and I hope to see you all there! Don’t forget to sign up for the President’s Party on Thursday night, we are going to have a wonderful time!
There is much more to tell you about, and I will do so in subsequent posts to the Hotline—like Strategic Plan implementation, Core Values statements, website organizing, and more. Stay tuned!
Thanks so much,
Elsa Loftis, OLA President