The American Library Association (ALA) has released its 2011-12 Annual Report, an overview of the association’s initiatives and accomplishments on behalf of the library profession.
The report highlights the key initiatives of former ALA President Molly Raphael, which centered on “Empowering Voices.” The report also underscores how ALA supports the efforts of libraries in providing essential technological resources, protecting patron privacy and promoting early childhood literacy.
Libraries continue to lead the way in the transformation of libraries and library services in an increasingly global digital information environment. The Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reported that more than 62 percent of libraries report offering the only free Internet access in their community. More than 90 percent of public libraries now offer formal or informal technology training. In addition, more than three-quarters of libraries offer access to e-books, a 9 percent increase from the previous year, while e-book readers are available for check-out at 39 percent of public libraries.
ALA continued to promote diversity in the library field through its Spectrum Scholarship program, which completed a $1 million fundraising initiative to support scholarships that allow students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds to become librarians. Since its inception a decade ago, Spectrum has provided nearly 800 scholarships to qualified applicants.
Among the highlights of the report is the successful effort to secure legislation that strengthens libraries. Through the work of Senator Jack Reed (D – RI), school libraries were provided with a direct funding source in the federal budget, with money specifically aimed at childhood literacy.
ALA also fought on behalf of school libraries through a petition in support of school library programs created by Carl Harvey, Indiana school librarian and president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), drew the 25,000 signatures required to put the petition in the hands of President Obama.
While ALA monitored a number of policy issues, including the status of federal funding for school libraries, ALA also took an assertive stance on library access to e-books, meeting with publishers and other groups involved in the e-book “ecosystem.” In August, ALA released “Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries,” a report created by the new ALA Digital Content & Libraries Working Group.
The report also focuses on ALA’s vigilant work on behalf of patron privacy. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom produced a survey, “Librarian Attitudes Regarding Information and Internet Privacy,” which confirmed librarians’ general concerns over privacy and desire to control access and use of personal information.
ALA’s robust efforts in enhancing the professional development of its members are also spotlighted in the report. ALA JobLIST, the Association’s one-stop library jobs site and avenue for promoting and finding job openings, continues to support the profession as a source of job search and career advice curated from around the Web.
The year proved historic for ALA, long known for its successful Youth Media Awards. Adult book award and ALA history were made at 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., with the announcement and presentation of the first-ever Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, funded through a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and cosponsored and administered by Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).
To read the entire report, visit http://www.ala.org/aboutala/annualreport12.