As libraries evolve and adapt to the changes in their communities, they are also embracing the diverse populations they serve by providing programs and services that highlight the history and culture of ethnic and racial groups. As president of the Polish American Librarians Association, I have the honor to lead a group of individuals who work in a variety of library settings–public, academic or specialized–but are linked together by a shared history and traditions or an interest in learning more about Polish culture. Some PALA members were born in Poland and left to seek the American Dream yet hold strong to their heritage; others are discovering their roots in Polish history or are fascinated by the rich culture and complex history of Poland, but ultimately all identify as “Polish.”
Each of us has an identity shaped by our gender, ethnicity, and environment; our identity shapes the decisions and interactions we have with others. It also means each of us has a distinctive perspective and story to tell. Library professionals who identify as Polish, offer unique insights that can be used as a tool to connect individuals in diverse communities and to share their history and culture with others.
During my presidency, I would like to unite library professionals in the Chicagoland area and beyond so they can share their distinctive experiences and work together to develop the skills they need to provide vital contributions to the library profession. Whether those connections are based on being Polish or are made by working with a Polish population in their communities, PALA members will have the opportunity to network and build relationships within our profession.
The mission and goals of PALA are determined by its members, and my objective is to keep the organization on track based on our collective goals. My hope is that library professionals embrace their Polish identity as a tool to strengthen the library profession and as a way to keep that important part of their identity strong.