This time has been a whirlwind of changes for MSLA as an organization, even prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic. At the time I accepted the nomination, MSLA had been run by an Executive Director and Board for years. We were a well-oiled machine in every regard. From answering the questions of new members to planning our annual conference, there was a system to everything. I thought I knew what it meant to be MSLA President because I had watched the turnover of several prior presidents. At the beginning of my term, when Executive Director Kathy Lowe stepped away from MSLA followed closely by our longtime conference coordinator, I had a feeling that all bets were off. Suddenly, we were being asked to reimagine the structure of MSLA leadership. There was a heavy load of decision making - I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details of that - but also a new awareness that MSLA would evolve. We started to figure things out.
And then along came COVID.
Needless to say, it was time again to figure things out. Except now it was not only MSLA that was being shaken up, but also our profession, our society, really the entire world. MSLA leadership sprang into action to cancel our in-person conference, a mainstay of our academic year. We surveyed our members, trying to find out what we could do to support them. We hosted online professional development to help members plan to reopen their libraries. We supported Zoom sessions to help librarians connect with others at their level. We facilitated Project READY groups for librarians to come together to learn about antiracist practices - because at the very same time our country was struggling with COVID, we were also on fire with the news of further racist killings of Black Americans. A whirlwind of activity, and of necessity we were making up much of it as we went along.
Finally, once the initial dust settled and we were able to take a breath and assess, we realized that we would need to start immediately planning for an all-virtual conference. If we were to sit down together today - socially distanced, of course - and you asked me what I felt was my greatest accomplishment during my term as President, it would be this event. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was also the event that gave me some nightmares.
Looking back on all of this, it sounds like the plot of a very intense thriller. Knowing what I know now, would I do it all over again? Of course I would. Because in the end, here’s what matters and what all of this comes down to: it’s been an honor serving as your MSLA President. Throughout all of these changes and twists and turns, I have never felt alone. I’ve had a wonderful team beside me, with everyone from the Executive Board to the advocacy, conference, and awards committees stepping into the breach at a moment’s notice. To all of those people, I owe a debt of gratitude I can never repay. And to all MSLA members, those of you who step up every day to serve your students, I also owe thanks. You are the reason this organization exists. I heartily hope we never again have a school year like this one, but if we do I know that we’ll all get through it. Together.