The Future Starts Here
Barbie Selby and Earlene Viano
With funny hats and noisemakers we have welcomed 2002. Now, as we move further into the new millennium, we are anxious that libraries remain serious and significant players in it. As with all successful endeavors, teamwork will be required. That means we must look around us with new eyes to see who is sharing our workload, listen with open minds to what our colleagues have to say, and decide together how to do the exciting and necessary things that will allow us to continue serving the information needs of our Commonwealth. In this issue of Virginia Libraries we look at WHO will help us in this effort and HOW we can pull it off.
Past ALA president E.J. Josey suggests WHO. In an age that emphasizes ethnic diversity, our library public needs to meet all kinds and colors of people working there. Not only is this a legal necessity, but also a human one. As the author insists, "I want to see staff who look like me!" With a wealth of quotations and examples, he urges us to leave the lingering effects of racism behind and step into a techni/multi-color age, where a library employee may be any qualified member of the human race.
The nitty-gritty details regarding HOW to march confidently into the future concern Patricia Bangs from the Fairfax County Library. Her article's bulleted lists of things to do or not to do could be posted on any library director's 2002 bulletin board, ready to be checked off-item by item. GMShe suggests various ways libraries can embrace technology, new services they should offer, and the challenge of creating multicultural collections. One thing she proposes is the use of students and volunteers from the communities libraries serve. If librarians will not change and adapt to current circumstances, library survival into the future becomes problematic. But if librarians closely follow trends and tendencies, Library.Future will not only have staying power, but also marketing appeal-essential to the consumer-oriented society in which we work.
Marketing skills and products broadly
As always, last year's annual VLA Conference presentations were catalysts to constructive change. We offer a small sample of the many offerings-from computer sign-on solutions to problem parents, from accessing electr Gonic theses to locating information on pre-Civil War plantations. The presenters' approximately 100 sessions covered every conceivable library-related topic and skill-an exciting hodge-podge whose power to stimulate cncreative thinking is well known to library directors. Every employee of every library in Virginia should have the opportunity to experience this mental massage, after which he or she will return to work with brain juices flowing freely. Certainly everyone who attends the yearly conference is immersed in visions of a better library day.
But libraries are also places to see back into the good ole days-into the lives of our friends and relatives who lived in them. At this year's cc Virginia Institute of Genealogical Research Linda Derrer learned how she could help her patrons get at the roots of their family trees. She offers many historical tidbits, among which everyone will find at least one to use as he or she starts digging. Ms. Derrer insists that carefully studying the historical particulars about Virginia's settlement will actually make it easier to find family members who lived then.
Virginia Reviews looks at books describing some of Virginia's historical particulars: its people-slave Nat Turner, Chief Justice John Marshall, Norfolk's Mayor Roy Martin, and spy Robert Hanssen, and its places-the whole Virginia ltandandscape in the 18th century, Southeastern Virginia during the Civil War, and Rockbridge County at the beginning of the 21st century.
Information, gleaned from the past, will help libraries avoid past mistakes and move with firm tread into the tantalizingly bright, but challenging, future of information management.
* * *
Douglas Gordon, interviewer of Donald McCaig in the Oct./Dec 2001 issue of Virginia Libraries, asked that we mention that initial work on the interview was supported by a grant from Christopher Newport University.