ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Ed Gillen wrote his first article titled "Challenges of the Future: Vision, Leadership, Advancement, Professionalism, Foresight" <> in Associates (1994, July, v. 1, no. 1). Ed was in on the ground floor for the establishment and development of Associates back in 1993. He has a long tradition of support for Associates and I'm pleased that Ed is contributing to our special anniversary issue.]

*Back to the Future*


Edward T. Gillen
NYS Education Dept./Staff Development

Wow, ten years! That was my first reaction when asked by Wendee Eyler to contribute to this Associates 10-year anniversary issue. Holy cow, Iím getting old was my next reaction.

Hello Associates subscribers! Iíve been asked to revisit my contribution to that first issue Ė "Challenges of the Future: Vision, Leadership, Advancement, Professionalism, Foresight" and to reflect on those challenges. The article was my May 24, 1994, keynote address to the Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum.

What struck me first when I re-read the address was that it was written knowing that I was leaving my library career after sixteen years at the New York State Library. I had just accepted a job with the Education Departmentís Office of Human Resources Management Training Bureau. My message to the forum participants was that it was up to them to craft a vision for their future, work on advancing that vision by getting involved and to realize that their future is tied to a healthy library and library profession. Since most of the participants were going to be in a library career in their future, they should work towards making their future better. The second thing that struck me was the future as I wrote it was 2000. I am getting old!

Challenges -- there will always be challenges and thatís a good thing. Iíve learned that it is the challenge that propels individuals to act. Individuals seek allies in their efforts; they often emerge as group leaders and work towards meeting the challenges. Iím sure challenges still exist in libraries. My hope is that in the past ten years there has been movement towards resolution on some of them. In my career and travels as a library assistant, I met a lot of wonderful and dedicated individuals. I left knowing that whatever the challenge, it would be faced head on.

The one challenge that I discussed back in í94 seems to be at the forefront of strategic planning in a lot of organizations today, and that is leadership development. I mentioned earlier that Iím getting old. Well, so are a lot of my baby boomer colleagues. People are starting to recognize that leaders need to be developed within. Iím sure that the library paraprofessional associations around the country and world are looking for others to "step up" and become tomorrowís leaders and they are actively working on that challenge.

If libraries and their leaders have recognized the value of library paraprofessionals and have incorporated them in their efforts to support libraries and to make the profession stronger, leaders are being developed for tomorrow. If library paraprofessionals recognize that their future is tied to the viability of the profession, leaders and followers of these associations will be able to move their vision forward. I said "if" because I know some challenges have not been resolved. Like I said earlier, there will always be challenges and thatís a good thing!

I ask that you consider helping out at your local, statewide or national organization. The leaders of these groups need your help and recognize your talents. Step up -- itís a challenge that will develop your leadership skills.

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