“As the pace of digital change quickened, librarians have found themselves at once evangelizing for digital technology and wrestling with its implications.”
Ahead of the annual conference in Chicago of the American Library Association, Publishers Weekly senior writer Andrew Albanese reflects on what is a significant year of transition for the oldest and largest library association in the world.
After 15 years, Albanese reports, Keith Fiels is retiring as ALA executive director; Fiels follows out the ALA front door Emily Sheketoff, who recently retired after 17 years of leading lobbying efforts at the ALA Washington, DC, office.
“I believe Fiels has led ALA through what will almost certainly be remembered as the most extraordinary period in the organization’s history,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.
“In 2003, the ALA’s opposition to the USA Patriot Act would become a defining public moment for the association,” he recalls. “Four Connecticut librarians went to court then for talking about a warrantless FBI request for patrons’ records. Under the Patriot Act, the FBI could compel you to turn over any records you had without a warrant—and, it was illegal for you to talk about it.
“It was also a tense time within the profession,” Albanese notes. “As the pace of digital change quickened, librarians found themselves at once evangelizing for digital technology and wrestling with its implications
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.