Magazine article American Libraries

Transforming Our National Agenda

Magazine article American Libraries

Transforming Our National Agenda

Article excerpt

I know I make the very patient American Libraries magazine editorial staff crazy with my failure to meet established deadlines for this column. But one of the benefits is that I can write about the latest news.


It's Election Night and I'm sitting in my library's meeting room watching the results with about 50 community members--young and old, men and women, the politically affiliated and independents. We are watching two televisions; one tuned to the local public broadcasting network and the other to CNN. Our local expert from Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics is present, calling the races and offering commentary and analysis. The League of Women Voters is here too, canvassing the group to determine their voter experiences at the polls.

I could just as easily be tuned in to my home television dressed in my "jammies" and lounging on my comfy sofa, but I would much rather be here (with apologies to my husband who is sitting home alone). There's popcorn all over the room. People are comfortably ensconced for the evening. There is a wonderful interplay of conversation, clapping and cheering, and laughter. Some are using their laptops to one-up the networks on the results.

There is a slightly chaotic feeling in the library tonight, a mood that lets me know that we are doing things right. This is a night when democracy worked; when the people spoke about what direction they want our country to take over the next few years. It was in many ways a vote on the national agenda and has reinforced my belief that we need a similar agenda to help our libraries transform the communities we serve.

In early December, I will host an invitational meeting of library leaders and policy-makers in Washington, D.C., with the intent of developing a broad-based national agenda that can guide our work in transforming libraries of all types. …

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