DLA’s Past Year & New Opportunities

The Delaware Library Association has seen growth in the depth of leadership and effective participation that has been expressed this last year or so. There were a few times last year that I had to pause and reflect about how proud I am to be part of this Association, and how lucky I am to be working with such exceptional people from libraries across the state. Together, we’ve explored ways to bring DLA into the libraries it works to serve through professional development options and opportunities for personal growth—from the Joint State Conference in May to the very core of networking and enlisting involvement on many levels.

While there are a variety of ways DLA can be effective as an organization that supports Delaware library staff, perhaps the most important is through communication and education. Our Association has many examples of exceptional leaders and ways in which each has been instrumental in shaping the Association to its current form. Members have been able to serve our library communities though DLA in areas that may be difficult otherwise.

There is no better example of this than the recent community and school district challenges to the Delaware Blue Hen Award reading list selections and other titles. Beginning last spring with the question of whether Brave New World (Huxley) is appropriate for a particular Delaware high school curriculum, the same two parents initiated the challenge of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Danforth). This situation recently made the Delaware News Journal, NPR, and other news outlets.
DLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, led by Chair

Margery Cyr (Dover Public Library), has been a leading presence in helping us understand what this was about, what it means for our communities, and how to professionally work with such outrage (assisted by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom). Personally, it encouraged me to think about my own response to book challenges, book banning, and the important role of libraries and librarians. During a recent meeting, I listened to a recent high school graduate recount her unpleasant experiences in high school and how she believed books like Cameron Post would’ve made a real difference in her life. I was moved to tears by her testimony. I was even moved to say a few words, knees shaking and all.

Hand-in-hand is DASL (Delaware Association of School Libraries), and the robust information-sharing, ideas, and support offered through our listservs, meetings and through social media. Without school librarians who are equipped with the professional resources and knowledge they need to operate well, schools and their students suffer and cracks in the very foundation of literacy become apparent.

Thank you for a great year and for the amazing projects we have embraced. I look forward to our journey together!

Looking Forwardlookforward
We begin a new year with momentum. The Association helps us step outside our comfort zones to speak out, to try new things, to take on a leadership role – and this, in turn, helps Delaware’s libraries grow and excel. I see our upcoming year moving on this same path in a direction that will be shaped by our board and members’ involvement in the development of a mission statement. We are beginning to explore the migration of DLA’s website to a new platform. The upcoming Joint State Conference is likely to be one that we’ll never forget through a partnership with NASA that is being finalized now. Through the energy of the existing long-term and incoming new board, committee and division leaders, DLA is emerging into a vibrant, shining organization that will have positive effects across Delaware. If you want to get involved, the time is now.

All my best,
Cathay Keough
DLA Executive Director