PALA to Poland, Poland to Chicago

The Polish American Librarians Association has identified several objectives for 2017, foremost among them: a major presence at the World Library and Information Congress, scheduled for August 19-25 in Wrocław, Poland; and PALA’s 7th Annual Meeting, scheduled for April 2 in Chicago. Other goals include a membership recruitment drive, website updating and newsletter publication, ongoing publication in Polish American Journal and other media outlets, and continued cooperation with related organizations, including the American Library Association, the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, Forum for Dialogue Among Nations, and the Polish Museum of America.

“In 1989, when I attended my first IFLA conference, a meeting of the federation in Poland seemed like a pipe dream,” says PALA President Leonard Kniffel. Now that dream is about to come true, and we want to help as many Polish-American librarians as possible go to IFLA. This is our profession’s major international organization and the fact that the conference will be held in Poland is a unique opportunity for librarians who serve the Polish American community to meet and learn from their collegues from Poland and around the world.” This conference marks the third time IFLA has met in Poland in its 80-year history. The other conferences occurred in 1936 and 1959, both times in Warsaw. 

PALA Treasurer Elizabeth Marszalik, Vice President/President Elect Ewa Barczyk, and Kniffel are committed to attending and are working with Michael Dowling, Director of the American Library Association’s International Relations Office, to establish a major presence for PALA in the Exhibit Hall. PALA members who are also ALA members are urged to contact PALA at “We especially need booth volunteers with Polish language skills,” says Kniffel, “since the host nation usually has the largest number of attendees.” PALA will be reaching out to Polish librarians and libraries across the United States and urging them to send materials for distribution in the booth.

Feedback from previous PALA Annual Meetings indicates that members have enjoyed the venue changes, having met at the Polish Museum of America, Loyola University, Dominican University, and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. “For 2017 we are seeking a public library venue in the Chicagoland area, and we are exploring our options. Members have suggested that we might feature a speaker from Poland and a genealogy panel, so we will be exploring those possibilities as well.”

Other plans for 2017 include developing opportunities for members to partner with other organizations with similar educational goals to promote a better representation of Polish history and culture in America’s libraries. “PALA membership has declined over the past two years,” says Marszalik, “so we will be launching a membership drive to retain old members and recruit new members who can take the association in new directions that keep pace with the changing demographics of Polish-American library users.”

The board is committed to an annual review of bylaws and strategic priorities, following the recent adoption of a new set of organizational goals that focus the association’s energy and resources on networking and career development through four primary activity areas: 1) Planning and conducting the Annual Meeting and participating in other national, state, and international conferences, and in other networking forums. 2) Improving communication and resource sharing with members through the PALA Mine quarterly newsletter, the PALA website, and survey and evaluation forms. 3) Recruiting and retaining members through the efficient and effective use and maintenance of the email mailing list. 4) Partnering with and supporting the efforts of libraries, library associations, and other related organizations.

The PALA Board of Directors met in Chicago September 20 over a luncheon at the famous Red Apple (Czerwone Jabłuszko) restaurant. All current members of the board were present: Kniffel, Barczyk, Marszalik, Secretary Joanna Klos, Paulina Poplowska, and Ron Stoch. All board meetings are open to the membership, and PALA member Hanna Przybylski also attended.