During the past year, the Virginia Library Association and its members have been very busy and involved in a variety of activities and projects. To cover everything would take some time, but I thought I would focus on three particular areas — legislative, development and continuing education programs.
The legislative arena was challenging on both the state and federal levels. In the state, budget cuts forced each type of library to reduce or reallocate funds for staffing, programs, and book collections. Our Association's biggest efforts were directed to making sure cuts to libraries were in proportion to other agencies and in this it was successful. Thanks to the efforts of our Legislative Committee, our legislative liaison and the strong grass roots support of our members, the governor and the General Assembly did not seek further reductions to state aid or other library programs in the budget proposal.
We did have a successful Virginia Legislative Day on January 16, 2003 with over 70 librarians, trustees and friends going to Richmond to meet with their legislators. Those personal relationships, forged during these face-to-face opportunities for legislators and library supporters, continue to create support for libraries within the legislative agenda.
On the federal level, VLA supported the reauthorization of the Library Services and Technology Act. We continue to lobby for funding of the Act. The Virginia Library Association Executive Council voted to endorse ALA's original and revised statements on the USA Patriot Act and on the importance of passing the Freedom to Read Protection Act, the Library and Bookseller Protection Act, and the Library, Bookseller and Personal Data Privacy Act.
On May 13, 2003, over 60 library supporters attended the National Library Legislative Day luncheon in Washington, D.C. The luncheon and individual meetings before and after the luncheon offered another tremendous opportunity to educate legislators and their staff members on library values and to forge those important connections for continued library support.
A continuing issue for VLA has been the establishment of sustained funding for programs such as the legislative liaison and scholarships. Both these programs have relied on the generosity of members and corporate sponsors to provide funding each year. This year an Ad Hoc Development Committee was formed to address the issues and recommend strategies. One strategy proposed was the formation of a Virginia Library Association Foundation and, after review, the VLA Executive Council voted to endorse the establishment of such a foundation. The VLA Foundation will be a wonderful development opportunity for the Association and will give us an outlet for continued funding for the future.
Continuing Education Activities
Another Association goal is to provide continuing training and education opportunities to its members. Again this year, VLA offered an amazing quantity and variety of programs. Units sponsored programs on government publications, paraprofessional development, library outreach, education programs on the USA Patriot Act, serials collections, and program planning — just to name some of the sessions.
On May 19 th and 20 th of this year, the VLA Paraprofessional Forum held its 11 th conference, "Navigating the Challenges of the 21 st Century," and attracted 341 people. They listened to an array of accomplished speakers and enjoyed a number of fun social events.
I want to thank the Executive Committee, the Executive Council, and the members of the Association for their hard work and support this year. I feel very lucky to be part of such a strong and vital organization.