State of the Association Report

State of the Association Report

by Sue Nissen, President April 28, 1995
The Long Range Plan approved by the Board of Directors in 1994 requires the President to prepare a "State of the Association" report to be presented orally at a general session of the annual conference and published in Montana Library Focus. The purpose of the report is to identify membership issues and concerns that were addressed during the year and goals and/or objectives that were accomplished.
I would assert that the "state" in which we find our association on April 28, 1995, is a state of transition. As a result of the actions we have taken during the past year to implement the recommendations of the Long Range Plan, almost every function and activity of the association is undergoing some sort of change.

In relation to the Long Range Plan, the following objectives have been achieved in the last twelve months:

At the November board meeting, attorney Mike Lahr gave a presentation on the legal responsibilities of the board of directors. At the Billings conference, the board and other association leaders participated in a session entitled "How to Become an Effective Association Leader." Participants learned about the history of MLA, its mission and goals, the importance of professional involvement, and the organization and structure of MLA. They also discussed strategies and activities that can be employed to help MLA meets its goals in the future.

Because I personally believe that leadership development is critical to the effective operation of MLA, this year I appointed a President's Task Force on Leadership Development whose charge was to develop suggestions for a leadership development program for MLA. Unfortunately, this task force got short circuited along the way, but it did make several recommendations which will be considered for implementation.

In addition, the Intellectual Freedom Committee published an intellectual freedom newsletter, developed two presentations for the annual conference, is working on a prototype for an Intellectual Freedom Handbook, is developing a traveling exhibit for Banned Books Week, and selected three legislators to receive the 1995 Association's Intellectual Freedom Award.

The committee decided to begin work on developing a program to assist members in developing an individual professional development plan. The committee will identify and develop opportunities for professional development and will explore the possibility of a mentoring program and the sharing of professional library resources. The committee also began to review methods and procedures for assuring high quality workshops at annual conference and other association continuing education events.

This has resulted in a major change in the way MLA conducts its lobbying. As you know, there was, as well, a major change in the make up of the state legislature in 1995, with the Republicans taking control for the first time in many years. These changes, along with the introduction of some unexpected legislation relating to public library federations, required a great deal of time and attention on the part of the president, the board of directors, the Government Affairs Committee, the State Librarian, our lobbyist, and the many members who testified at hearings, contacted their legislators, and otherwise supported MLA's legislative effort. This was not an easy session; however, the association's major legislative goal was achieved increased funding for interlibrary loan reimbursement was included in the State Library's budget. More details on library legislation are set forth in the Government Affairs Committee report.

With all this activity taking place during the past year, it is no wonder that, at times, I have felt more like a ringmaster than a president! The theme I chose for the year was "Library Advocacy: Community, Commitment, Connection." Many of MLA's accomplishments during the past year reflect this theme. I believe that advocating for libraries is at the core of our association's existence. MLA accomplishes as much as it does because of the commitment of many volunteers who come from all over the state and from all types of libraries. These individuals form a community that is the Montana Library Association. We make the commitment simply because we believe that what we are doing will enhance Montana's libraries and, therefore, the ability of her citizens to access information and ideas. Keep up the good work!

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Web version of Montana Library Focus prepared by Greg Notess. Last updated, 6/19/95. Copyright © 1995, Montana Library Association.