Diversity & Outreach Columns ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services


The value of visiting.

Posted by Dale Lipschultz, OLOS Literacy Officer

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a large, complex project I temporarily loose sight of what’s really important.  For the last few months, I’ve been buried in American Dream  paperwork – proposals, budgets, contracts, and endless strings of emails.  I know the importance of this kind of paperwork. I also know that it’s what I have to do before I get to do what I love. I love visiting libraries, talking with directors, library staff, and community partners. I love seeing what’s happening at your library.  Last week’s ‘road trip’ to the Wauconda (IL) Area Library confirmed the importance of these face-to-face meetings.

When we were planning this phase of the American Dream project I knew that I wanted to build in time for collaboration and conversation. Of course, I want to see libraries, but that’s only a small part of it. What I really want is for you to talk with each other.

This time around, establishing a virtual community was (relatively) easy – thanks to ALA Connect, Facebook, and John Amundsen. Virtual communities lay the groundwork, but it’s conversations that develop organically and take unexpected turns that really move our work forward.

Whenever possible, I want to bring the American Dream libraries together. We have clusters of libraries – four in South Carolina and New Mexico, five in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, seven in North Carolina and New Jersey, and 11 in Illinois. We will reach out to the local ALA chapters.  We’ll certainly will meet at ALA’s Annual Conference and Midwinter meetings.

Right now, we’re looking at calendars and studying local maps. This Thursday we’re traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Bentonville, Arkansas. I’ll keep you posted.

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