Message from the ILA President - Jeanne Hamilton

July 22, 2021

Can you believe it is already July? (For those of us in public libraries, can you believe that summer reading is almost over?) While July marks the halfway point of 2021, it also marks the beginning of ILA’s year. As we start our new year, I'm particularly excited about the steps we will hopefully be able to take to return to post-pandemic life and our continued focus on true inclusivity and racial equity. 
Our 2021 ILA Annual Conference theme, “Breaking Down Barriers, Building Up Communities,” exemplifies these priorities this year. Notably, with grant support from the Illinois State Library, we will host Clint Smith, author of the New York Times #1 bestselling book How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America as the opening general session speaker, and even give away a free copy to the first 190 registrants. (Register now if you haven’t already!)
In ILA today, we are working to fulfill all the priorities in our strategic plan, with a strong focus on the goals “A culture of diversity and inclusion in the association” and “A culture of diversity and inclusion in the profession.” Over the past couple of years the ILA board, committees, forums, and staff have implemented a number of programs and initiatives to make strides towards these two goals, including a Statement of Appropriate Conduct for ILA conferences and events, two new forums (Students and New Professionals and Small and Rural Libraries), offering pronoun badge ribbons at ILA Annual Conference, investment from ILA’s net asset balance of $20,000 in the Diversity Scholarship Fund - which supports the Sylvia Murphy Williams Scholar program, a survey and “ILA Voices” listening session the results of which were published in the ILA Reporter, creation of DEI Subcommittee of the Executive Board, and development of a “Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
All of these activities are designed to make our association one in which “Members recognize their ownership in and have equitable access to participate and be heard in ILA’s volunteer structure,” as stated in the strategic plan. We call these things out today not to imply that ILA has “solved” the issue, but because reporting out is a form of accountability and we want to report out to you, our members!
In addition to the activities outlined above, ILA staff and volunteers have worked hard to advance ILA’s additional strategic priorities: legislative and community advocacy, leadership, and delivery of member value. (Check out the full progress report on the Strategic Plan’s web page.)

And, I'd be remiss if I didn't congratulate the 2021 ILA Award winners, as well as the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) and the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), both of which are celebrating ten years of service to Illinois libraries!

We’re proud of how far we have come, but we know there is a great deal more to be done and together, we can do it.

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