April 19, 2018

ALA President, Treasurer Candidates Speak Out | ALA Midwinter 2016

ALA_logoAmerican Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting attendees were presented with a slate of strong contenders from both public and academic libraries at the ALA 2017–18 Presidential and Treasurer Candidates’ Forum on Saturday evening, January 9. Presidential candidates Christine Lind Hage, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, and James G. Neal, as well as treasurer candidate Susan H. Hildreth, presented their platforms and discussed their stances on topics that will affect ALA in the months and years to come: investments; international outreach; the development of a leadership pipeline; the proposed name change for the Office for Literacy, Diversity, and Outreach Services; and work with the Freedom to Read Foundation. In particular, candidates highlighted their visions for ALA’s three current strategic directions: advocacy, information policy, and professional and leadership development.

Hinchliffe was nominated by the ALA nominating committee in July 2015 along with Sara Gaar Laughlin, who has since withdrawn her candidacy. Hage and Neal were nominated through petitions drawn up and signed by ALA members. Hildreth and Patricia M. (Patty) Wong were nominated as candidates for ALA treasurer in July as well; Wong has also since withdrawn.

Christine Hage - Light backgroundChristine Lind Hage, director of the Rochester Hills Public Library, MI, is the immediate past president of United for Libraries and served as president of the Public Library Association from 1998–99. A member of ALA since 1971, Hage has served on a number of national and worldwide advocacy committees and has worked at all levels of public library service. She vowed to work in an “open, inclusive, and collaborative manner,” adding, “We are most effective when ALA is in the lead, tracking issues impacting all libraries such as copyright, rights of digital government records, digital inclusion, equality, privacy infringements, and social justice.” Hage cited the Digital Content Working Group as an effective model in its work to communicate with publishers on ebook issues. “ALA at the table, speaking on behalf of libraries, was able to accomplish something that individual libraries, systems, or state agencies were not able to achieve. This model will serve us well as we work on our key action areas.” Hage also spoke of her intent to pursue first sale rights for digital materials, advance privacy literacy in libraries, and collaborate with early childhood education initiatives in order to further the work done by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Hinchliffe-1500-2100Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe is a professor and coordinator for information literacy services and instruction at the University of Illinois (UI) at Urbana-Champaign and has been an ALA member since 1993. As the 2010–11 president of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Hinchliffe developed the Value of Academic Libraries initiative and helped complete the organization’s new strategic plan. She works “tirelessly and relentlessly” for the issues she believes in, which include information policy, privacy, and inclusion: “If we think about who isn’t able to be in the room with us here today, they are more likely to be people serving low-income communities, people who are in lower paid positions in libraries, people who are solo librarians…. Those are the people who could potentially benefit the most from the conversations we’re having here in Boston.” Hinchliffe has engaged in a wide range of mentoring activities, as well as helping create an LIS pipeline at UI, where she has worked with hundreds of students as they leave higher education for the workplace. “I want to capitalize on that excitement,” she told the room, adding, “ALA is strong community. We can only be stronger.”

JimNeal20162James G. Neal most recently served as the vice president for information services and university librarian at New York’s Columbia University from 2001–14. An ALA member since 1976, he has held a number of leadership positions within the organization, including serving as treasurer from 2010–13. In addition, Neal served as president of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). While he would continue to promote current ALA president Sari Feldman’s Libraries Transform focus, as well as president-elect Julie Todaro’s Expert in the Library theme, Neal also noted that the vitality of libraries and the profession will also require a powerful collective commitment to action and transformation on the part of all its members. “Now is a time for an outward view, not for an inward emphasis…. ALA will connect librarians to the priority social and economic issues of our time,” including climate change, economic inequality, health care, immigration, gun control, racism, and lifelong learning. Neal also stressed that the profession—which he termed “radically collaborative”—should be diverse and inclusive, engaging the communities it serves both nationally and globally.

hildreth4Susan H. Hildreth, the sole candidate for treasurer, is executive director of the Califa Group, Pacific Library Partnership, and Peninsula Library System and administrator of the NorthNet Library System in San Mateo, CA. Hildreth, an ALA member since 1973, concluded a four-year appointment as director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in January 2015 and has served as president of the public library association (PLA). While ALA’s revenues are currently up by five percent and expenses are down, Hildreth said, it’s necessary to develop a 21st-century business plan for ALA; with a strong background in fiscal guidance and strategic thinking, she hopes to ensure the financial success of the organization, and reinforce its values, by working collaboratively and strategically with all stakeholders. When it comes to investing responsibly, she noted, “It’s a balance. You have to look at the history of some of these organizations—have they turned themselves around? Have they made philosophical differences in terms of how they’re managing their assets?” Hildreth feels she has the temperament and experience necessary to take on such “knotty issues”—to ensure that private investors are socially responsible so that “our members could feel comfortable with those investments, yet also recognizing that some of those investments are going to bring very high rates of return that we need.”

The entire forum can be viewed below. For more in-depth conversation with the candidates, look for LJ’s upcoming Q&A.

Lisa Peet About Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Associate Editor, News for Library Journal.