From the President

by Dr. Jen Cannell, NYLA President


An image has stuck with me since Spring Convocation at my institution.  On the screen was a picture of an empty lecture hall.  The keynote speaker asked if our teaching would change in any way if those seats were filled.  It was horrifying to consider that students may not be central to everyone’s teaching; that the work could take place with our without the presence of students.  If an educator thinks they can do the same thing despite the presence of students, then what kind of impact will their teaching have?

Let’s take that same scenario and apply it to the work of our professional organization.  Our members must be central to all that we seek to accomplish.  Over the next year, NYLA will be undergoing a strategic planning process.  In order for our organization to be most effective, we need to design this plan with our library community at the center.  If we develop a plan that can be implemented without you, then we have not created a truly effective plan.

With more than 7,000 members, we have the intellect and man power among us to create a meaningful strategic plan that guides our organization.  I suspect many of you may have audibly groaned at the phrase “strategic plan”.  Don’t worry, you can be involved in ways that are influential, yet painless.  The key to this being a success is that we need each of you to step forward and offer your ideas.  There will be multiple opportunities do so in the coming months.

First, at each of the in-person NYLA Council meetings, your representatives will be thinking deeply about what it is that NYLA should embody to most effectively serve its membership, including current, future, and potential members.  We will be reviewing our guiding principles and our core values.  This work will be accomplished through facilitated activities and an analysis of our current plan.  Your section leaders and representatives will be highly involved in the process.

Next, a series of town hall webinars will allow for all members and library employees to provide their input.  These sessions will be short, focused, and seek to gain insights from you.  We will also be seeking input through other various channels.  Our goal is for every member to feel heard through this process.  Feel free to provide your thoughts early and often.  As a professional organization that supports lifelong learning, we too must continue to grow.  That growth cannot happen in a vacuum and we cannot continue to do what we have always done.  
We will also seek to gain input from those who are not yet members of NYLA.  There are various reasons that individuals in the library community may not be members; we need to hear their voices too.  I have my own gap in membership to NYLA and do not judge anyone for their decisions.  However, I seek to understand reasons that may exist beyond the obvious.

As we get started with this process, please feel free to contact me directly at  I am open to all ideas, suggestions, critiques, and compliments.  My hope is for all of us to create a strategic plan that leads us in success.  This is not a time for me to be standing alone in that lecture hall… let’s fill the seats and make a real difference for our organization together!

NYLA’s Strategic Vision and Guiding Principles

NYLA’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020

ALA’s Core Values of Librarianship