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Go global! Ten ways to play your role on the world stage

By Barbara J. Ford

It’s no secret that ours is a small world— and getting smaller all the time. All you have to do is look around to see, hear, and taste the influence of world cultures on even the smallest campus.

As president of ALA, I am focusing on an area of great personal and professional con- cern—the role of libraries and librarians in the global village. The theme I have selected, “Li- braries: Global Reach. Local Touch,” focuses on a unique and exciting aspect of what today’s libraries offer: access to world- wide information resources and local accessibility.

Those of us in academic set- tings are especially aware of the need to prepare young people to live and work in a digital age, which releases us from geo- graphic limitations as the basis for friendship, collaboration, commerce, and community. As librarians, we have a responsi- bility to facilitate the flow of com- munication. We understand how to organize and present information and how people use information once they have it.

Just as information easily crosses boarders, our challenge now is to take a larger role on the world stage. ALA’s participation in the Geneva copyright negotiations is a good example of how we can act on a larger stage to ensure a balanced and fair information doctrine.

When ALA holds its Annual Conference this summer in Washington, D.C., I will host several activities to promote greater international understanding and awareness within our pro- fession. These include a Diversity Fair, which will showcase examples of how America’s li- braries incorporate diversity in their services and programs. The fair will be Saturday, June 27, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Many academic li- braries offer exciting programs such as the Uni- versity of Arizona’s digital exhibits designed to share the history and experiences of Tuc- son residents from various ethnic backgrounds (http://dizzy.library.arizona.edu:80/images/ diverse/diverse. html).

An International Literacy Fair will showcase model literacy pro- grams in the United States and around the world on Sunday, June 28, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. There will also be a first-ever panel of international librarians presenting papers on “New Ways to Serve the Library User: A Glo- bal Perspective” on Monday, June 29, from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. Watch the ALA Web site at www.ala.org for updated information on these and other Annual Conference programs.

Another exciting opportunity is the annual meeting of the International Federation of Library Agencies and Institutions, which will be held in August 2001 in Boston. But you don’t have to wait until 2001 or even the next conference to “go global.” There are things that each of us can do in our libraries, starting most immediately with National Library Week, April 19-25 (see “Ten things you can do” on the next page). Please join me in “going global.”

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