The Congregational Library Association - National Capital & SuburbanArea
Founded in 1960 - Affiliate of The Church and Synagogue Library Association
Closing Remarks by Newly Elected TCLA President Curtis Howard April 30, 2011
Congratulations to our honorary members (Ruth and Jim) and a pleasant good afternoon to them and to all of you: members of the DC Metropolitan Area Congregational Library Association and friends.
Thank you for making this day special. I look forward – I think- to serving as your president for this coming term. I also thank you for taking time from of your busy schedule to be here today. I appreciate it.
I believe congregational libraries and librarians are wonderful assets. Ruth Smith, founder and first president of our organization gave us this wonderful gift in the 1900s. Librarianship crossed the 21st century threshold more than a decade ago. Though we continue to be information managers and disseminators, should we continue using the same methods used in 1970?
Why? Why not? I argue that methods should change, because our patrons change.
Presidents and members of the organization... on whose shoulders we stand…adjusted to the periods in which they served. Some quicker than others. Some of us are still transitioning to library computer software. Others are one-hundred percent manual. If libraries are to survive, they must reflect their environment and the patrons we serve.
Which brings us to the purpose of our organization. The organization functions to “encourage better congregational libraries and library services by working together in interfaith fellowship, by sponsoring library projects and sharing information and resources”.
Lets first look at our patrons. On one hand, one cohort of our patrons is younger than 30. On the other hand, another large cohort is between 65 and 80 yrs. old. What is the most important difference between these groups? Technology! One group gets information primarily through technology; some of them were born with “a remote in one hand and a cell phone in the other”. The other group is struggling to catch up. How does this facility with technology influence the vitality of congregational libraries?
BARRY RAND, CEO of AARP shares the following information in the December 2010 issue of his company newsletter.
He says there are five key changes shaping America:
1. Older people are growing in number and living longer. The fastest growing age group in America is the 100+ year olds. The second fastest growing group is those between 85 and 100. During the 20th century, life expectancy grew by 3 decades and longevity gains are expanding. We are approaching a time when older adults will outnumber children for the first time in history.
Should this new longevity affect our library inventory?
2. Racial and ethnic diversity are especially pronounced in the under 30 group. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans over 65 will be Latino. Should increased diversity affect the vitality of our libraries? Should congregational librarians care about this issue?
3. Financial changes constitute another key change influencing the shaping of America. Today 75% of AARP members still provide financial support for their children. Forty percent help support their parents and their children.
Can congregational libraries help in such situations?
4. Only 25% of the boomer generation –just reaching the age of Medicare---is financially prepared for retirement. Yet by 2012, unmarried boomers will account for 46% of all boomer households. Who knows what will happen to Medicare and other retirement safety nets?
How can we get these people into our libraries?
5. Living arrangements also affect the shaping of America. The number of households headed by single women age 75 and over is projected to grow from fewer than 6 million in 2010 to 13 million by 2050.
What do we need in our libraries that meet the needs of this burgeoning group?
It is clear that life, as we know it, is changing. People younger than 30 may take living beyond age 100 for granted. This is bound to change their entire life-plan for finances, health, social interactions, careers, and living arrangements.
Challenges abound! We must come together and do some long-range planning if our libraries are to survive. There is no way to meet these challenges immediately. They require serious long-range planning. The other day, I ran across a quote attributed to Henry Ford. He said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” We must endeavor to make our libraries relevant by working together to help our patrons meet 21st Century challenges.
With that, I get the feeling that we have work to do.