MLA’s “Primary Source” is an exclusive, first-hand account of the latest news and announcements from the staff of the Michigan Library Association.
March 23, 2023
Note From Scott
As the list of candidates for MLA’s Board of Directors is released, I wanted to say a special note of thanks to those of you who put your name forward to run for an open seat on the Board. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but as in life, you learn the most from those things that are most challenging. As you know, MLA relies on the work of their volunteers, and for those of you who are volunteering for the Board, a lot is required of you. But, professionally you receive a lot as well. What do you receive? Well, you receive the assurance that the work you do matters for libraries in our state. In your role, you work with MLA’s Executive Director Debbie Mikula and MLA staff to ensure that the organization is functioning to the best of its ability to fulfill its mission to “lead the advancement of all Michigan libraries through advocacy, education and engagement”. That is done by making sure MLA follows its strategic plan and priorities along with fulfilling its efforts in Intellection Freedom, Open Access, and Equity, Diversity, Accessibility, and Belonging. 

As I said before, the work isn’t easy. It takes an engaged individual who is willing to dedicate the time and energy needed to help MLA grow, and in turn, help Michigan libraries advance to meet the needs of their communities. It takes an experienced individual who brings the knowledge and wisdom from their professional position in libraries to the Board. It takes an individual who understands their fiduciary responsibility as a Board member and is willing to work with fellow Board members and MLA staff to ensure that MLA is there for its members.

So, as you can see, it takes a lot, and it also gives a lot. I started on the Board in 2019 and first served as a Member-At-Large and then President-Elect and now President. Through my experience on the Board, I not only learned about MLA, but I also learned about myself as well. I feel that it allowed me to grow as a professional and gave me an experience I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t take the chance to put my name on the ballot. 

For all MLA members, please take the time to read about each candidate and vote, because the MLA members you see on the ballot took the courageous step to put their names forward. For past and current Board members and MLA staff, thank you so much for the work you do and have done. Due to your dedication and work, Michigan libraries are in a better place now and in the future.
Scott Duimstra
MLA President
Meet the Candidates for the MLA 2023 Board Election
Meet the candidates for the 2023 MLA Board of Directors Election and plan to cast your vote April 3 – 24, 2023.
MLA will hold elections from April 3 – 24, 2023. This year MLA members will vote for an MLA President-elect and four Member-at-Large Board positions. These positions will serve for three-year terms beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2026.
Meet the candidates! Click on their photos below to get to know the candidates for the 2023 Board Election.

Eligible members will receive an email on April 3 with instructions and a link to vote.
Director, Superiorland Library Cooperative
Director, Eaton Rapids Area District Library
Director, Gladwin County District Library
Associate Director of Operations, Muskegon Area District Library
Director, Traverse Area District Library
Director, Grosse Pointe Public Library
Director, East Lansing Public Library
Regional Manager II, Kent District Library
Director, White Pine Library Cooperative
Director, Superior District Library
A Note from MLA Nominating and Leadership Development Committee Chair Cathy Russ 
Cathy Russ
Chair, MLA Nominating and Leadership Development Committee

The MLA Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is the group that works together to identify and recruit excellent candidates to run for the MLA Board and determines the final slate of candidates to present to the membership for election. 

I had the pleasure of chairing the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee this year. This was my first year as chair and my first year on the committee so I was slightly daunted at first because I was such a newbie. I had nothing to worry about. Debbie Mikula and the MLA staff helped me understand the committee's charge and timeline; and the members of the committee--Jennifer Dean, Val Meyerson, Kristin Shelley, Eric Stanton, Kate Van Auken, and Andrea Vernola--were an absolute joy to work with! Thank you all for shepherding me through the entire process, and for all of your efforts to bring such a tremendous slate of candidates to the membership. 

Most of all, THANK YOU to everyone running for a seat on the MLA Board. I appreciate your dedication and commitment to the profession, and your willingness to take on a leadership role in MLA. 

I encourage every MLA member to make your voice heard and VOTE in the upcoming election. Your vote matters and helps determine the future of your Michigan Library Association.  
Call for Ambassadors
The Call for Ambassador online signup for 2023-2024 workgroups and committees is open! Applications are accepted through April 28, 2023.

We invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to make a difference in the Michigan library community, develop your leadership skills, grow your network, and represent MLA. If you're interested in growing personally or professionally, we have a place for you!

All MLA members are eligible to volunteer for workgroups and committees. Nonmembers interested in volunteering are welcome to join MLA by filling out the online membership application or by contacting us at (517) 394-2774 or

Check out available opportunities to get involved on the web and complete the online ambassador application by Friday, April 28, 2023.

Questions? Join us on Thursday, April 13, 2023, at 10:00 AM to learn more and chat with MLA staff and workgroup and committee members about participating in the 2023-2024 member year. Register here.
New Job Board
We are excited to unveil the new MLA Job Board! Our new platform is streamlined and user-friendly – and it integrates with our member database so members can receive discounted job post pricing and manage job posts all with their MLA Member login credentials. View this helpful article to learn how to post a job. If you have questions or need assistance please contact us at
Shop the MLA Store
Shop our store for MI Right to Read apparel and MLA swag. We have all new shirts designed by local artists that promote the right to read, plus MI Right to Read and MLA merch like hoodies, shirts, mugs, and totes! Check out our store, order your gear, and wear your support of libraries and the right to read!
MLA 2023 Annual Conference Call for Proposals
We invite proposals for Breakout Sessions at the MLA 2023 Annual Conference, October 18 - 20, 2023, at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo.

We are seeking Breakout Session proposals from emerging thinkers that relate to our theme, "Connecting the Dots”. We are looking for proposals that elevate the ideas of intellectual freedom, networking, equity, diversity, inclusion, collaboration, programming, management, and more. Submit your proposal and help us connect the dots between all library professionals.

This invitation extends to all library professionals and partners - from first-time to experienced presenters, as well as professional speakers and subject matter experts. Proposals are due Friday, May 12, 2023.
Organizational Membership Renewal
Thank you to all of our organizational members for your continued support! Watch the mail for organizational membership renewal information for the 2023-2024 member year in April.
Group Invoicing for an Easy Renewal Process for Your Entire Staff
Did you know? MLA makes it super easy for Organizational members to sign up all of their employees as Affiliated Individual members. Instead of having to issue multiple checks for individual dues throughout the year, wouldn’t you love the option of cutting one check that covers the cost of annual dues for all staff ($85 per employee) AND…they will all renew at the same time each year!

We can provide you with one invoice that will cover the cost of the employees you choose to pay for. We will even pro-rate their dues as necessary to eliminate the need for sending multiple checks. Note according to the bylaws, membership in the association is not transferable or assignable, but there is an exception for Affiliated Individual memberships that are paid for by an Organizational member to address staffing changes. This is a wonderful professional development perk for your staff members and increases the “package of benefits” you offer.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this offer, please contact MLA Administrative Assistant, Lisa Buttigieg who will be happy to help answer any questions you may have. She can be reached by phone at (517) 394-2774 ext. 227 or by email at
Accessing Your Library's Member Record
Organizational representatives: To access your library’s member record, visit and log in to the online member portal using your individual login credentials. From the member portal home page navigation menu, select "Go to Profile," then navigate to "My Profile" and select "Your Organization" from the dropdown list. You are now interacting as your library and can add Linked Trustees by navigating to the "Individual Profiles" menu item and selecting the "Create Linked Profile" button.
View the Organizational Member Directory
Search the MLA Organizational Member Directory to view library organizational members of MLA. You can search by library name, address or zip or view all organizational members in alphabetical order. Need to update your library's info? Library directors can log in to their individual member profiles to access and update their library's organizational membership.

HealthiestYou Enrollment is Open
Library Directors: HealthiestYou is an affordable option for providing your library staff with access to free online healthcare. It's a healthcare service that offers convenient, confidential access to quality doctors and providers by phone, video, or app 24/7/365.

Questions or Ready to Enroll?
HealthiestYou is available exclusively to MLA Organizational Members. To learn more, see a demo of the HealthiestYou app, get your questions answered, and get ready to enroll watch a recording of our informational session on YouTube.

Please contact Rachel Ash, MLA Membership and Communications Director at to confirm your library’s eligibility or to join MLA. Rachel will connect you with Corey Cushing to begin the enrollment process.  
A new legislative cycle begins. MLA has updated our Bill Tracker. Check out MLA's Bill Tracker to view a full list of legislation that the Advocacy and Legislative Committee is watching.
Dark Store Legislation
In response to the financial loss dark stores have caused communities throughout Michigan, State Senator Ed McBroom has introduced SB0019 and SB0020 that would change who oversees tax dispute cases
Across Michigan, nearly 90% of funding for public libraries comes directly from local sources. With continued attempts by big box retailers to secure lowball evaluations of their storefronts, known as “dark store theory,” we have seen disastrous effects on local tax bases, city services, schools, and libraries. when successfully implemented by big box stores, this commonly used but disputed form of property tax evaluation diverts those critical operating funds away from public libraries.

In one example, the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, Michigan has been living with the harmful effects of dark store tax appeals since 2015. Since that time, the library’s budget has been significantly impacted by the loss of revenues resulting from the tax tribunal settlements, with refunds totaling over $206,000 in tax tribunal appeals. The initial settlements had such a severe impact that the library had to close on Sundays, costing patrons a full day of service. This yearly loss amounts to approximately $37,500 in tax funds, resulting in a further reduction of the range of quality services that the library can provide. Eight years later, the library remains closed on Sundays due to budgetary constraints associated with the 2015 tax appeal. With sharp cuts to funding due to dark store tax appeals, public libraries simply cannot provide the same level of exceptional services which will result in a dwindled return for taxpayers.

The Michigan Library Association is strongly focused on protecting funding for our public libraries which are generally funded through three primary sources of revenue: millages, penal fines, and state aid. While millages generally make up the largest percentage of a local library's budget, local property taxes are critical sources of funds that contribute to the important work that libraries perform. Diverting critical operating funds away from our public libraries by big box retailers who, through a loophole in the tax laws are able to reduce their tax burden, has been shown to have devastating effects on communities throughout Michigan. 

The Michigan Library Association is in support of SB19 and SB20 and will work with Senator McBroom who introduced this legislation to put into use an assessment standard called “highest and best use.” 
MLA Condemns Lapeer County Prosecutor for Suggesting Criminal Charges Against Library Officials if Book "Gender Queer" Not Removed
The Michigan Library Association stands united with our libraries and library workers to condemn the threats of the Lapeer County prosecutor, John Miller who has stated publicly that he is considering filing criminal charges against the director and officials at the Lapeer Public Library if “Gender Queer: A Memoir”, an LGBTQ-themed graphic novel, isn’t removed from the adult section of the library collection. 

Miller has suggested that library officials could be charged with a violation of criminal code 750.145a, which deals with targeting those who are "expressly trying to exploit children." To use a criminal statute designed to prosecute pedophiles in this way demonstrates a deep disrespect for the law.

MLA is deeply concerned by Mr. Miller’s grandstanding with the intent to intimidate librarians to curate library collections according to his personal beliefs, clearly an abuse of his office.
What Do Michiganders Really Think? MLA Launches Public Opinion Poll on Book Banning
Last month, the Michigan Library Association contracted with EPIC-MRA, a full-service survey research firm with expertise in Public Opinion Surveys and Market Research Studies. EPIC-MRA has a proven track record of producing accurate and useful research data based on public perceptions and opinions. While we have been using national studies (like those produced by ALA and EveryLibrary) to prove that book banning and censorship issues are not tolerated by the majority of voters in the country, we felt that we needed solid Michigan data to back this up.

Our work with EPIC-MRA will produce a statistically valid, stratified survey of voters in Michigan regarding awareness of, and attitudes toward, the increasingly intense and coordinated efforts to dictate the collection content of local public libraries.  

In addition to measuring awareness and existing attitudes about the topic among a representative sample of all voters statewide (850 voters will be surveyed), MLA is interested in gauging what messages resonate for MLA and its members, to proactively and effectively communicate our findings. Such messages would not only advocate the fundamental wisdom of a library board’s objectivity toward the content of the materials in its collection but also measure the level at which the voting public appreciates the inherent pitfalls allowing a group to homogenize the marketplace of ideas and sources of thought contained in public libraries. The messaging component will be a second phase of the work plan once the survey has been tabulated and analyzed.

The 45-question survey document was finalized by a small group of MLA Board Members. The 15-minute phone survey will begin this week and will take approximately one week to complete. In April we will disseminate a summary document for the state as well as for each of the 11 Cooperative regions.
Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Legislation Expanding Rights and Freedoms for LGBTQ+ Michiganders  
Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by Attorney General Dana Nessel, Senator Jeremy Moss, Representative Jason Hoskins, and other legislators, advocates, and allies to sign legislation expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). The bill reaffirms legal protections for sexual orientation and expands coverage to include gender identity and expression.

“We have taken a long overdue step to ensure that no one can be fired from their job or evicted from their home because of who they are or how they identify,” said Governor Whitmer. "Our LGBTQ+ friends, family, and neighbors deserve equal protection under the law so they can live their authentic lives, and I want everyone to know that Michigan is a place that will fight for your freedom to be yourself. Guaranteeing equal legal protections to LGBTQ+ Michiganders is the right thing to do.”

Originally passed in 1976, ELCRA prohibits discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. Changes to the ELCRA further protect the rights and freedoms of Michiganders by including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the plain language of the act. 

MLA stepped up to support this legislation on behalf of libraries throughout the state.
MLA Supports Passage of the Crown Act Introduced by Senator Sarah Anthony
The MLA Advocacy an Legislative Committee supports Senate Bill 90 a bill introduced by State Senator Sarah Anthony known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. If made law, this bill would add language to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists as traits historically associated with race.
Letter to Legislators
Check out March's edition (PDF) of our monthly outreach to Michigan Legislators where we continue to educate them on the value of our libraries and the critical role of library staff. Our monthly letters include information on programs and services that libraries provide, education on library funding, the return on investment for our communities, stats and fun facts about library usage and more.
Libraries Do Not Purchase, Stock or Supply Illegal “Obscene” Materials
It is the responsibility of public libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some individuals in our society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular, or unacceptable. As legislation here in Michigan and around the country attempts to ban books and criminalize our library workers, it is critical to know that LIBRARIES DO NOT HAVE OBSCENE MATERIALS ON THEIR SHELVES. It is also equally important to understand why reading a single paragraph or page out of context at a library board meeting is so misleading.

Obscenity is determined by the court of law. Federal law prohibits the possession with intent to sell or distribute obscenity, to send, ship, or receive obscenity, to import obscenity, and to transport obscenity across state borders for purposes of distribution (18 U.S.C.) Therefore, libraries cannot purchase obscenity on the open market and thus cannot have it on their shelves.

The Miller Test is the primary legal test for determining whether expression constitutes obscenity. As per the Supreme Court, materials MUST PASS ALL 3 PRONGS of the Miller Test. Read more in the latest MI Right To Read Newsletter.
Intellectual Freedom Resources
Resources for library staff, educators, and board members.
Tips and templates for promoting intellectual freedom in your community.
Request support as you take action to protect First Amendment rights.
Take Action to Unite Against Book Bans
The American Library Association (ALA) released new data and statistics on book bans in the United States. The numbers shattered last year's records.

ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The record number of reported book bans in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021.

The record spike in book bans during 2022 did not originate from individual conversations with concerned parents. Overwhelmingly, these challenges were presented by groups and individuals at library board meetings that demanded the removal of long lists of books obtained from organized censorship groups who share these lists on social media. These well-organized attempts at censorship must be stopped. 
A majority of American voters across party lines do not support book bans and may not be aware of the severity of the problem. Help to raise awareness and inspire voters to act. Here are a few ways you can get involved today. 

Follow Unite Against Book Bans on social media, and react to and share these social media posts: 
Check the updated Unite Against Book Bans website for more information, including: 
  • New data on 2022 book bans and censorship 
  • Statements about the alarming increase from Unite national partners  
  • New graphics to share TODAY on social media, which include new data highlights (scroll to the bottom of this page). When posting, please tag @uabookbans (Twitter) or @uniteagainstbookbans (Facebook and Instagram) and use the #uniteagainstbookbans hashtag.  
In addition to maximizing this opportunity to expose and condemn organized attempts at book banning and censorship through social media, today is a great day to contact the media yourself or on behalf of your family or your organization, in response to new data. 
LAST CALL for Michigan Library Advocacy Day! We will be gathering together in person at the Capitol in Lansing to advocate for all Michigan Libraries on April 25, 2023. THIS WILL BE A SOLD-OUT EVENT. Learn more and register at

On Tuesday, April 25, the Michigan library community will unite to amplify our collective voice in support of ALL Michigan libraries at our first in-person Michigan Library Advocacy Day in more than a decade.

Registration is only $25 and includes an Advocacy Day t-shirt, a boxed lunch, and a custom agenda. MLA and our lobby firm will schedule a meeting between you and your legislator(s) or their staff if they are available.

Only five more spots are open. If you have previously registered, but are no longer able to attend, please contact us at as soon as possible!

When we've reached capacity, the form will no longer allow registrations. Please email us at to be added to our waitlist.
Spring Institute For Youth Services Last Call for Registrations!
Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023 is in person March 30-31, 2023 at the Ann Arbor Sheraton Hotel. Attendee registration is still open!
You're invited to join the Michigan library community at Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023, March 30-31 at the Sheraton Hotel in Ann Arbor. This year, the conference theme is Sustaining Our Future. Join us as we highlight all the ways we are working to protect books, communities and relationships. 

It's not too late! Visit us on the web for details and register today!
Location and Hotel
3200 Boardwalk Street
Ann Arbor, MI, 48108
(734) 996-0600
Keynote Speakers
We are pleased to welcome award-winning author Kyle Lukoff as our opening keynote speaker, pediatrician Dr. Dipesh Navsaria as our Friday morning keynote speaker, and closing keynote speaker, author and illustrator Matt Faulkner.
Health and Safety Guidelines
We ask you to be courteous and conscientious of others while meeting in person at MLA events, especially when it comes to health and safety. View our updated Health and Safety Guidelines for Spring Institute 2023 including COVID-19 procedures and vaccination requirements and new guidance around common allergens. 
April Advocacy Hour: Challenging Conversations
Thursday, April 20, 2023
10:00 - 11:00 AM

We are pleased to welcome two public library directors who will offer practical advice on how to bridge polarizing viewpoints at our April Advocacy Hour. Join Larry Neal, Director of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library and Juliane Morian, Director of the Rochester Hills Public Library to learn how they have taken steps to over-prepare for tough conversations in the communities they serve.

Advocacy Hour conversations are always free to attend but registration is required.
Guest Speakers
Juliane Morian
Director of the Rochester Hills Public Library
Larry Neal
Director of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library
Upcoming MLA Connect Webinars
Check out the 2023 MLA Connect lineup! Visit us on the web to register now or save the date for upcoming programs!
Inclusion and Belonging: Accessibility Audits
Thursday, April 6, 2023
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

It is essential to make sure your library is prepared to serve patrons with disabilities. Ensuring full access to your library is an important part of customer service and a great way to expand the reach of your library in your community. This interactive workshop will explore ways your library can be more inclusive to people with disabilities and make your library more welcoming to everyone.

Learn from experts in the field and explore a variety of perspectives provided by representatives from UN Women, American Library Association, University of Michigan, Disability Network Southwest Michigan, and Capital Area District Libraries.

Participants will learn what an accessibility audit is and how it can be applied to their library; strategies they can implement to make their library more accessible and welcoming to everyone; and creative strategies and resources for further learning will be shared with participants so that they can continue to expand their knowledge.

This webinar will be recorded and available through MLA Connect On Demand. It's only $25 for MLA members.
Now Available On-Demand
Check out the MLA Connect On Demand virtual education platform! MLA members have access to dozens of virtual programs and sessions on a wide variety of topics, all available to view on-demand. To view available programs, visit MLA Connect On Demand, browse the archives, and log in with your MLA individual login credentials.
Do you have news you want to share? Contact Lisa Buttigieg at to share news of promotions, new hires, appointments, awards or a tribute in memoriam.
On the Move
Welcoming Kevin Brown as Pontiac Public Library's new Library Director. All the best to you Kevin!
The Hudson Carnegie District Library is excited to welcome Micki Morgret as the new Director. Congratulations to you Micki!
MCLS welcomes Susan Bannwart as their new Group Purchasing Coordinator. Congrats and all the best in your new role Susan!
Tashia Miller will be returning as a full-time Outreach and Engagement Librarian at the University of Michigan. Wishing you all the best Tashia!
Kudos and Congrats
Congratulations to Lance Werner for winning the Ernest A. DiMattia Jr. Award for Innovation and Services to Community and Profession. Way to go Lance!
Advertise on MLA’s Job Board
Members receive deep discounts on job postings through the MLA Job Board. Learn more here.
Allegan District Library - Allegan, MI

Public Libraries of Saginaw - Saginaw, MI

Ypsilanti District Library - Ypsilanti, MI

Cheboygan Area Public Library - Cheboygan, MI

View these jobs and more on the MLA Job Board.
Rates and Registration | 2023 ALA Annual Conference &...

If you'd like to register a group, ALA is offering a Register 5 People and get 1 Free Registration option. To register a group, begin by signing in with the first person you'd like to register, then check the "Add Another" button on the Review...

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Bridging Michigan Grants | Michigan Humanities

Bridging Michigan grants provide Michigan nonprofits with up to $2,500 in support of public humanities programming that sparks in-depth thinking and conversation around persistent challenges affecting our communities. We welcome projects that aim ...

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Michigan Arts and Culture Council Grants

The Michigan Arts and Culture Council (MACC) coordinates grants to arts and culture organizations, cities and municipalities, and other nonprofit organizations ensuring that every citizen and community in Michigan enjoys the civic, economic and...

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Series of Comprehensive History Webinars

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) identifies teaching comprehensive history as an important effort supporting Michigan's Top 10 Strategic Education Plan. An essential part of MDE's efforts to improve comprehensive history instruction is...

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Fight Censorship
With the severe uptick in local and statewide book challenges, ALA offers this clearinghouse of resources to assist library workers and library advocates in responding to and supporting others facing those challenges. Report challenges to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, and let ALA know if you need assistance.
The Night for Notables Reception
The Night for Notables Reception is on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the Library of Michigan featuring 2-time Michigan Notable Books author Karen Dionne as the keynote speaker. Find more information for the event through the Library of Michigan Foundation as we celebrate the 2023 Michigan Notable Books.

Section 802 - Library Pilot Program Grant Application Now Available
The Michigan Department of Education is pleased to announce that application
materials are available for section 802 school library pilot grants. In section 802 Public Act 166 of 2022 (page 46), the state legislature provided $800,000 in competitive funding to be awarded to local school districts based in four counties.

 Don't keep this great resource to yourself!
Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and networks.
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Connect on Social Media
Connect with MLA on social media! Like and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest real-time updates from MLA staff, library news, inspirational and educational posts and more! We also ask that you share this invitation with friends and help us extend our reach so important advocacy updates and calls to action are heard by library supporters throughout the state.
Uniting the Michigan Library Community
MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.