Presidential Initiative


Presidential Initiative of Barbara Stripling, ALA 2013-2014

Libraries of all types across the country are on the move – they are transforming their programs, collections, and services to provide equitable access to information and meet the priorities of the communities they serve.  Libraries are stepping up to become centers of conversation, community engagement, learning, and innovation.

One important goal area in ALA’s 2015 strategic plan is Transforming Libraries.  To that end, ALA is developing a multi-year initiative, The Promise of Libraries, to enable libraries to turn outward to their communities and rethink the way they connect with and serve individuals and the community at large.  Through this initiative, librarians in all types of libraries will learn the processes and tools of turning outward.

Barbara Stripling’s 2013-2014 presidential initiative, Libraries Change Lives, will continue and deepen ALA’s support for fulfilling the promise of libraries by enabling libraries of all types to build transformative practice around the community priorities they have discovered by turning outward. The goal for all libraries is to listen to their communities and support community members in achieving their aspirations.  The Libraries Change Lives initiative will be framed around three areas of transformative practice that enable community members to change their lives:  literacy, community engagement, and innovation.


Fundamental Concepts:

  • Libraries of all types are transforming themselves to meet the needs and priorities of the communities they serve
  • Literacy in its broadest definition, enables individuals to meet their own goals and to be active in their communities
  • Libraries accept the social responsibility of maintaining and demanding equitable access to information and learning, including access to e-books and information in any format
  • Libraries can be community centers of conversation, innovation, and literacy – both face-to-face and virtual
  • Librarians must teach sophisticated critical thinking and information skills to enable their users to make sense of and use information presented in multiple formats
  • School librarians accept the responsibility to teach digital citizenship to all students
  • Libraries are increasingly becoming centers of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking
  • Decisions about library programs and priorities must be made locally


ALA can support the concept of changing lives through libraries by:

  • Connecting libraries and enabling the sharing of promising practices through virtual tools
  • Providing professional development – Innovation Zone at conferences?
  • Offering experiences at conferences and through virtual venues that enable members of ALA to develop programs and strategies
  • Connecting ALA to networks of organizations and foundations focused on community empowerment and literacy
  • Strengthening the connections between ALA and the ethnic affiliates around literacy initiatives
  • Extending the reach of libraries and ALA by engaging in common work with other national organizations and advocating to influential decision makers
  • Creating a high-profile event to kick off the initiative
  • Working with foundations to establish grant program(s) for libraries to develop innovative programs to meet the literacy needs of their communities.
  • Fostering and sharing innovative thinking in libraries (e.g., makerspaces)



Libraries Change Lives Brochure

Download the Libraries Change Lives Brochure, which outlines the key components of Barbara’s Presidential Initiative.    

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