Welcome to Missoula, and MLA’s 2020 gathering! I’m deeply honored to preside over this event; I hope to see many of you in Missoula April 1 – 4. And we’ll be back downtown at the Holiday Inn on the river! Downtown Missoula is pleasantly walkable and so beautiful. I’m also excited by the location because we’ll be so close to the brand-new Missoula Public Library (crossing my fingers for an on-time opening so that we all can take a peak at their new digs)! Being as this next MLA conference happens during 2020, I wanted a theme getting at the concept of “hindsight is 2020”……. And more than that, when it comes to Montana libraries, it just seems that we’re all stronger if we move into the future together, collaboratively! Thus, our MLA 2020 conference theme is MLA 2020, Beyond Hindsight: Envisioning a Collaborative Future. My heartfelt gratitude to the MLA Executive Board, plus Jan Zauha, Sheila Bonnand, Beth Boyson, and anyone else who helped to arrive at this theme. My esteemed colleague and friend, Jan Zauha, gets credit for the final version of this theme, and it’s only fitting because she has spent much of her career collaborating and partnering with libraries of all types! We’re all in this together! I’m also excited that Debra Magpie Earling, Native author and UM Professor of Creative Writing, has graciously agreed to be our Author Luncheon speaker. Additionally, we’re fortunate to have Karen Munro, ACRL President, joining us as Keynote Speaker. She may be representing an academic library association, but I’ve briefed her on the collaborative spirit among all Montana libraries, and thus have asked her to address future directions in the library world for collaborative partnerships across library types. For example, we academics clearly recognize the valuable information literacy stepping stones that school librarians build among the students that come our way in college. We also recognize the role of public libraries, serving as homework help centers across the state, also contributing to the information literacy and lifelong learning skills of all Montanans. My heartfelt thanks to the local conference committee volunteers, along with everyone else who volunteers their time to make this a great conference. Finally, how do we begin to express our gratitude to Deb and Doug Kramer for their Conference Planning prowess over the past several years? This looks to be their final conference in this capacity, as they enjoy their retirement in Arizona going forward, so please take a moment to give them your heartfelt thanks for their expertise and dedication throughout so many successful MLA gatherings. Finally, I would like to include a Land Acknowledgement to recognize and honor our First Citizens upon whose ancestral lands we exist: We acknowledge and honor, with respect, the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional territories we now stand and whose historical relationships with the land continues to this day.

My best to all of you,

Mary Anne Hansen, MLA President, 2019-20

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