COLA Annual Meeting April 13th

Thursday, April 13, 5 – 7 PM at the RI Statehouse

The Keynote Speaker Will be Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of ALA Washington Office

Emily Sheketoff

Emily Sheketoff

This year COLA’s annual meeting matters more. As usual, we will convene in the State Reception Room of the RI State House to celebrate library advocacy. Libraries have been called “arsenals of democracy” and our trustees, Friends groups, and parent-teacher organizations are the committed citizens who keep them dynamic. They have been called “the poor man’s university.” We count on libraries for education, innovation, and community building.

So we will greet each other and exchange news over treats catered by Venda Ravioli. We will honor up-and-coming scholarship winners, amazing Friends groups, and our Sweetheart of the Year, Tom Viall. We will vote on a slate of officers and new board members. But above all, we will take a hard look at the issues that confront our libraries and the creative ways we can address them.

Emily Sheketoff’s keynote speech, “Advocacy is More Important Than Ever,” will inspire and inform us for the months ahead. As Executive Director of the American Library Association Washington Office, Sheketoff has long worked to ensure our right to a free and open information society, overseeing lobbying efforts before Congress and the Executive Branch and helping to shape ALA policy on key issues. She has government experience in both the Executive and the Legislative Branch, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA and going back through the Clinton and Carter administrations clear to the Senate Watergate Committee.

2017 Sweetheart of the Year: Tom Viall


Tom Viall

COLA’s webmaster Tom Viall is probably the only director of the old Bozo’s Kid’s Club ever to receive a Citation of Merit from the Rhode Island Library Association. After majoring in mass communications and film studies at Rhode Island College and creating more than 200 television commercials, he shifted to Internet content design in 1998 and soon became General Manager of The Ocean State Online (, voted “Favorite Website” by Rhode Island Monthly readers for three years  running. In 2003 he joined the team of, the state’s official government website. As President and General Manager since 2005, he has overseen the successful development of dozens of online services to help RI citizens and businesses interact with State Government.  He is a frequent speaker on the social impact of the Internet as well as the efficiencies of eGovernment.

His close association with the Internet has made him a strong advocate of libraries. He firmly believes that the new information age we live in has made libraries even more relevant and necessary. Appointed by Governor Carcieri to the Library Board of Rhode Island in 2008, he has chaired it since 2010—and served as an astute member of the COLA board since 2012. His 2016 RILA award was for advocacy, and so is this year’s COLA award. For patient, intelligent, and always constructive advocacy of Rhode Island libraries, we are proud to name Tom Viall as COLA’s Sweetheart of the Year.

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