Now, as an advocate, I would expect that he would be greeted with respect befitting his office and his support for public libraries. His politics are also closely aligned with ALA and indeed, mine.
However, consider these tidbits:
- No new branch will be opened unless it is in a school. The audience applauds. Set aside any research about collocated libraries, I understand political expediency. But the city closed almost 50 schools the same week, and that does include school libraries. No comment or commentary by ALA.
- A teacher will be placed in every branch after school so that every kid in Chicago has a tutor. The audience applauds. Now Chicago has 681 schools and 404,150 students. Chicago Public Library has 70 locations. By my reckoning, that is one after school tutor for every 6,000 students approximately… a beginning of course and a great added library service but 50 library staff paid that price. No comment or commentary by ALA.
- Participants in the summer reading program will be called “Rahm’s Readers.” Great profile and alignment with the city’s head of government but for what political advantage? We used to be concerned about corporate sponsorship of summer reading programs generally (oh, the outrage when a bank put up the money). Now we are labeling the efforts of these poor little warts after the mayor? No comment or commentary by ALA.
Of course ALA did find time to deal with why, whether and how members should, could or did pray at divisional meetings (those southern trustees!), three times no less, and what should, could or was done with government leaker Edward Snowden… important issues but not exactly in their backyard.
What do we stand for, exactly?