by Michael Golrick
As I think back on this summer, it was certainly a different one.
It began with the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, shortly before the ALA Annual Conference was to be held there.1 After ALA, I arrived home in Baton Rouge where the Alton Stirling shooting took place2. Protests followed that event, and disrupted some of my daily life. Less than two weeks later, several police officers were shot and killed.3 That hit even closer to home since I drove past the location of the shootings about 10 minutes before. That shook me. Later in August, parts of the area received over 30 inches of rain in a day and a half.4 Over 100,000 homes were flooded, and many lost all of their possessions (thankfully only a few lost their lives).
One of the most interesting things has been to consider the reactions. The Pulse shooting resulted in an outpouring of support for the community targeted. The first shooting in Baton Rouge resulted in protests. Streets were blocked, traffic and travel was disrupted. The second shooting, less than a mile away from the police headquarters, resulted in peaceful supportive outpouring of support. The flooding has distracted much attention from the earlier events of the summer. More than ¼ of the staff where I work were affected by the flooding. It happened quickly, and very unexpectedly.
So, what does it mean, and how does it relate to libraries and to ASCLA?
Libraries are part of their communities. One reaction I saw in libraries was to create displays, and prepare information related to whatever situation. One of the ALA Presidential themes of a couple years ago was “Libraries Build Communities.” That really is true, and this type of activity is one of the ways in which libraries do just that. For me, part of my job was to continually update the emergency information which my agency has on its web page. This year, ALA President Julie Todaro is expanding on last year’s “Libraries Transform” by adding “I’m an expert in…” In my work life, one of my areas of expertise is in finding and disseminating information. That is what I had the opportunity to do to help those affected by the flooding.
For many of us in ASCLA, our roles in the community are more diffuse. For most State Library Administrative Agencies, we provide various types of support for the libraries in our state. Others of us provide training. Some of us provide service to those whose needs require addition resources. Our challenge is to find and define our roles in our communities – however that community may be defined. I challenge you, this year, to help find where you can be the expert in your community.
Feature Image: Compare And Contrast by Tom Waterhouse