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A MID FEARFUL TALK of terrorism and war and uncertainties about the impact of a new Republican Congress, library "leaders" will converge on Philadelphia for the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA), January 24-27 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. They come from home library landscapes scarred by massive budget cuts and rank-and-file librarians and support staff increasingly restive over dismal compensation. They go to hear about a national policy arena deeply troubled by unresolved issues. A long, expensive, politically divisive legal battle against federally mandated library Internet filtering is not over yet. Funding for federal library laws has not been reauthorized nor appropriated.
Retirements, low recruitment, and low salaries continue to keep library jobs open for any takers. Unions and others battle against growing pressure to downgrade these positions in order to fill them with staff whose education does not include the master's degree.
The good news
There will be some good news at the Midwinter conclave. Library use is high and increasing, a library building boom has reached a new peak, and one federal court has found the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) unconstitutional.
ALA itself, with a new, young executive and an activist president, is engaged in a reorganization that could strengthen its ability to support and help its members bring positive change to all these issues. So …