With Midwinter being in early January, 2011 got off to a quick start. RUSA had a variety of events at Midwinter, including a very well-attended RUSA Social. I’d like to pass on my thanks and congratulations to Liane Taylor and the RUSA Membership Committee and to Liz Markel and Susan Hornung in RUSA Office for coordinating such a wonderful event. We had over 200 attendees, both RUSA members and potential members. It is always great to see so many librarians coming together to celebrate their passion for reference work.
This Midwinter also featured our first virtual Town Hall meeting. For RUSA members who could not attend the Town Hall in person, we opened up three chat rooms where they could post questions or comments and get live feeds on the meeting. Thanks to RUSA Councilor Kathleen Kern and our Emerging Leader Kate Kosturski who worked the chat rooms during the meeting. We had about a dozen virtual participants at the meeting. I am hopeful that this model offers members expanded opportunity to participate in RUSA without having to be there in person. At the Town Hall and at the RUSA Board Big Think that followed, there was much discussion about where RUSA should be in the future. In 2012, RUSA enters a new strategic planning period, and as a start to that process, I will be working with the Board and Sections to set up a taskforce to look at the future of RUSA. This taskforce will help to shape RUSA’s directions.
While at Midwinter, I also had the opportunity to see firsthand one of RUSA’s many projects that support libraries and librarians across the country. RUSA is the administrator for the FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Investor Education Foundation’s program Smart investing @ your library®. The program offers grants to libraries that are developing creative and practical programs and services to educate user groups about wise investing and financial decision-making. Through the FINRA Foundation, part of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the grants fund “public library efforts to provide library patrons with access to effective, unbiased financial education resources.” This year there were twenty grant recipients, sixteen new grantees and four continuing projects. Since 2007, sixty-four libraries have received grants through the Smart investing @ your library® program. This year grants were awarded to libraries from Apache Junction, Arizona and Chesterfield, Virginia to Florence, South Carolina and Pelham, Alabama There were large library systems represented as well as smaller libraries, but all of them had put together thoughtful and creative programs to offer much-needed financial information to their users. Some libraries were targeting young members of the community, others focused on seniors. Libraries have developed programs aimed at single-mothers, military spouses, and low income families. A key component of many of the programs is collaboration, and grantee libraries have developed some excellent models for partnerships in their communities. Partners have included local government agencies, colleges and universities, and state CPA organizations whose expertise has expanded the reach of the library projects. I was excited to see the ideas that librarians were coming up with to reach out to new segments of their communities, and I am delighted that RUSA has been able to work with our partners in ALA and at the FINRA Foundation to provide these opportunities. At our RUSA Board meeting at Midwinter, the Board approved continuing the relationship between RUSA and the Smart investing @ your library® program. More information about Smart investing @ your library® can be found at http://www.smartinvestingala.org. For more information on the FINRA Foundation and access to a variety of useful tools for working with investors, see http://www.finrafoundation.org/.
The Smart investing @ your library® program is just one of the many ways that RUSA provides resources and information to librarians and then to our users. This sort of commitment to working collaboratively to serve our users is a hallmark of RUSA members and one of the things that will carry us forward in the profession, whatever sort of library we work in.
RUSA President 2010-11