Letter from VLA President Jessica Scalph: October 2018

Hello VLA colleagues,

We returned from a wonderful conference at the end of September and we are starting the process of planning next year’s conference (Oct 23-25, 2019 in Norfolk at The Main).  The conference committee for the 2019 conference will be meeting soon to plan and work out many logistical issues.  

The poem below is by, Lao Tze.  To me, this poem expresses a picture of climbing up a mountain to reach the summit of peace in our world.  As you can see, there are quite a few steps to get to reach that peak.  

“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”

In my opinion, libraries can promote peace in our communities by offering a safe place for discussion, communication, and listening.  How can we achieve these qualities?  We offer programming that exposes attendees to viewpoints different from their own; we create displays of items visitors might not come across by themselves. We educate ourselves with professional development and bring those lessons back to our communities. People of diverse views and backgrounds may not have many opportunities to express their ideas in an open forum and we can – and do -- offer that.  Some libraries in Virginia have hosted events to discuss controversial issues (such as, “ten foot pole conversations”) but within the framework of respect and civility. If this is something you are interested in hosting, please reach out to me to discuss a possible partnership with VLA. The American Library Association encourages these events and provides information about dialogue and toolkits to assist you with the process.

There are so many ways we support our communities every day. When you have a successful event, teachable moment, or lesson you want to share with others, we encourage you to consider submitting a conference session proposal when our call goes early next year. We need your voice.

Please feel free to reach out to me throughout this year at my email: [email protected]

Thank you!