Brainwashed – In a Good Way

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Valoree McKay, the new Executive Director for the Canadian Library Association. Associations usually go one of two ways when hiring their ED/CEO – choose someone from the profession which means they have a great understanding of the people and issues of that profession, but may not have all the skills required to run an association, or choose an association executive who has the skills needed to run an association, but faces a learning curve in understanding the people and the issues of the profession.

The decision for hiring criteria will often depend on where the organization is at that time. I come from the library world and have had to learn how to run an association. Valoree comes from the association world and is learning about the people and issues of the library world.

We talked about values of those working in the profession. The principles we uphold on a daily basis are not necessarily obvious to those who don’t come from our world. We don’t think twice about intellectual freedom, open access, and privacy of patron information until we have to describe ourselves to a non-library person.

The obvious example: “we do not want children accessing pornography via the internet at the public library, BUT, we do not want to jeopardize intellectual freedom by removing the internet from the public library” is actually not at all obvious to the vast majority.

Have you tried explaining library values recently to someone from outside our community?

Shelagh Paterson is the Executive Director of the Ontario Library Association. Bird’s Eye is a regular column offering her perspective on the issues and ideas affecting the OLA and its members.