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President's Message: Welcome to MLA!

In this, my first column of the 2018-2019 year, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome those of you who have joined MLA since our annual conference in the spring, and also thank each of you who have sustained your MLA membership for years or decades. Our membership is strong and stable, but we want to make sure not to take your membership or your participation for granted. We are a successful association because we have you - our engaged volunteers — developing programs, facilitating discussions, and encouraging the next generation of library staff to become involved in accomplishing this important work.
Joseph Thompson, 2018-2019 MLA President
Director of Public Services, Carroll County Public Library
 
In this, my first column of the 2018-2019 year, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome those of you who have joined MLA since our annual conference in the spring, and also thank each of you who have sustained your MLA membership for years or decades. Our membership is strong and stable, but we want to make sure not to take your membership or your participation for granted. We are a successful association because we have you - our engaged volunteers — developing programs, facilitating discussions, and encouraging the next generation of library staff to become involved in accomplishing this important work.
 
Not already a MLA member? Please accept this personal invitation to join! While many of us became involved in MLA by attending a meeting or program or the MLA Conference, and we learned about the association through conversations with those who had already experienced the joy of participation, the reality is that not everyone working across Maryland libraries has the opportunity to easily leave the library building or classes. For these individuals, learning about the association through personal connections can be a challenge.
 
For this reason, our New Members Interest Group (NMIG) will be offering a series of “Getting to Know MLA” web meetups over the next several months to bring the association to you, wherever you are. What is a division and what do they do? How does one get involved in an interest group? What is the role of a panel? These are just a few of the questions we'll address. You will talk with our division leaders, our conference chair (the incomparable Tiffany Sutherland), and I about the work of the association and how you can get involved. I very much want to thank Kimberly Knight, NMIG Chair, for working with me to develop these meetups. These are our scheduled dates, all to be held at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time:
• Wednesday, October 31, 2018
• Thursday, December 13, 2018
• Wednesday, February 13, 2019
• Wednesday, April 17, 2019
 
In the coming weeks we'll post log-on information on the Marylib email listserv, MLA's Facebook page, MLA's Twitter feed and the MLA website's calendar.
Are you a student? Did you know that your MLA membership is only $22? You can join online at https://www.mdlib.org (select “Join MLA”) or print and mail the form at https://www.mdlib.org/files/docs/about/mlaapp.pdf . In addition to connecting you with our network of MLA members, membership also gets you access to our quarterly Crab newsletter (of which this column is only one small part!). Are you interested in joining both MLA and the American Library Association at the same time? If you're getting a degree in library or information science you can join both associations for one low price of $42. Visit https://www.ala.org/cfapps/jntapp/index.cfm?urlcode=ST-MD for details.
Looking ahead, this year we will be continuing to implement the MLA Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 (https://www.mdlib.org/files/docs/about/splan18-20.pdf). Each year the MLA President works with the MLA Executive Board and Advisory Council to develop our goals for that year. These are our 2018-2019 goals:
 
1. We will ensure that the 2018-2020 MLA strategic plan remains the focus of our planning activities in this middle year of the 3-year plan, and we will continue to work toward achieving our mission: The Maryland Library Association builds and promotes a strong, engaged, knowledgeable, diverse and inclusive library community to advance the transformational impact of Maryland's library staff and libraries.
 
2. We will ensure the growth of our diverse and inclusive leadership, which will specifically support Goal 4 of our strategic plan, to foster “an inclusive organizational culture, representing a growing and increasingly diverse organization, and prepare members for leadership opportunities.”
 
3. We will ensure that member recruitment and retention is a focus of every MLA activity, which will connect to Goal 3 of our strategic plan, to make sure that “the library community is well-informed about MLA and the opportunities and value it provides.” We will grow membership by 5% between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.
 
4. We will ensure that library advocacy is a focus of attention across all of MLA, which will specifically support Goal 2 of our strategic plan, to foster and promote “highly effective advocacy for the Maryland library community, conveying the needs, principles, and value of libraries.” All divisions, committees, panels, and interest groups will support library advocacy.
 
5. We will work to advance Goal 1 of our strategic plan, to “empower members to successfully address pivotal challenges and opportunities for the Maryland library community.” All divisions, committees, panels, and interest groups will support a future-ready library community.
 
In closing, I very much want to thank each of our volunteer leaders for sharing their experience, knowledge and time. Your dedication to Maryland libraries and our association ensures our present and future success. I also want to express my appreciation to our immediate Past-President, Denise Davis, for her commitment to MLA and leadership on a number of important library advocacy efforts over the past year. None of our association's important work would be possible without the dedication of our Executive Director, Margaret Carty, and MLA staff Kate Monagan and Tina Pickens. I'm incredibly grateful to be working with each of you, and looking forward to all of the great things that we'll accomplish in the coming year!

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