From the Chair: Bib and the Boys

By Ann K. Symons

You might recognize two of our members in the picture above:  David Vess, Past Chair GLBTRT and Digital User Experience Librarian at James Madison University and Robert Newlen, Deputy Law Librarian of Congress.

Do I love these two guys – you bet – they are part of my family.  Oh, and the other two cute ones: their partners Gary on the left and John on the right.  You bet – love them too!

She must be wrong you think; these people are professional colleagues not family.   You are both right and wrong; they are professional colleagues AND to me they are family, because I say so.

In 1972, we moved to Alaska, far away from family and friends.   Within six months, I was treasurer of the Alaska Library Association, making new friends and meeting new colleagues in Juneau and around the state.  Very few of our school district colleagues had family nearby so eventually we formed our own extended family – ties that lasted more than 40 years.   Amazing that one can choose one’s relatives.

The same is true of ALA, at least for us.  Colleagues become friends, friends you see outside of ALA may [or may not] become family.  Robert has been an important part of our life for over 20 years.  I guess I can say that somebody who comes to our cabin, flies out to celebrate my husbands birthdays:  65, 70 and 75 as well as mine gets to be a “bro”.   David – well David is new in my life.  We met at a GLBTRT Board meeting.  That fact that he is new does not make him less important to me. I love flying to Dulles,  jumping in a rental car, driving to Staunton, VA, staying with David and cruising around the beautiful Shenandoah Valley together.  Just like “girl” “friend” trips, my “boy” “friend” trips rank right up there as important.  The only difference is no nail polish.

This is just one example of the importance of ALA and its members in my life. My definition of family is very inclusive.   I share this as I ask you to think about the people you have encountered on committees, boards, task forces, etc.  Do you reach out and make connections when a committee assignment is done?  Do you find time at conference to have lunch, or coffee, or just chat?  Each time I make a new friend, I thank ALA for putting in place a structure where we can express our ideas, our values, and our feelings.  We do important work.  Many of us have goals for our service to ALA, many face challenges in getting funding for conference and are grateful that much of the work can be done virtually. Stop and think of the friends you have made just in the Round Table.  They may not ever be family by your definition of the word, but they definitely add richness to our lives.

Thank you for electing me your chair – this is a good year.

PS – The latest bottle of nail polish I bought is a rather bilious green.  What possessed me I’ll never know.


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