Albany Library’s Ronnie Davis stepped into the spotlight on Tuesday afternoon. The City of Albany’s Rotary Club invited Ronnie to speak at a luncheon held at the Solano Grill and Bar. Her ingenious topic was “Cartoon Talking Points!” This slideshow of library-related cartoons covered all facets of library service and turned old-fashioned perceptions upside down.
Before the salmon and veggie lunch, members talked with library staff about old times. Dana Milner recalled his first day on the job with the City of Albany and Ronnie’s urgent request to fix the library doors. His team rebuilt the doors and the stressed-out library staff were able to open and close on time. Club President, Jason Alabanza, and Friends of Albany Library President, Caryl O’Keefe, introduced Ronnie to the group.
Ronnie began her talk with a Peanuts cartoon she’d used many decades ago in her first speech to local Rotarians: Lucy exclaims that everything at the library is FREE and Linus replies, “Sort of makes you wonder what they’re up to.” She pointed out that libraries are not free, but–to quote Alan Riffer–pre-paid services, funded by property taxes and city special taxes. She fielded questions about funding at the end of the program and it was evident that local partners must work even harder to support each other through tough times.
To demonstrate the library’s viability to the business community, Ronnie cited statistics showing the Albany library’s 3-fold increase in circulation from 1981 to 2011. Rotary members have been essential members of the team that garnered support for the new library building in the 90’s. Many members have served on the board or been active in the Friends group.
This talk was an excellent venue for showing what it takes to build successful partnerships between people (or agencies) and the liaison-role of a community librarian. Rotary is all about partnerships based on mutual respect. Club members measure their success by the 4-Way Test:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER RELATIONSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
The talk was full of humor. To illustrate the changing image of the librarian, Ronnie showed several contrasting cartoons, then produced a plastic action figure of the “shushing librarian,” a doll that raised its finger to its lips. Her advice was the opposite: Don’t be quiet. Speak up and speak out about this great town and its fantastic library.