The elections for ALA Council begin March 19 and once again this year I’ll be running for member-at-large. Those of us who participate in the Facebook group ALA Think Tank have been answering questions on FB and Twitter. Since not everyone participates in that group, I wanted to share my responses to those questions below. If you are a member of ALA, I encourage you to (1) vote; (2) to vote for me; and (3) to additionally vote for my colleagues: Erica Findley, Mel Gooch, Lynda Kellam, Viccy Kemp, Kate Kosturski, Chris Kyauk, Coral Sheldon-Hess, Manya Shorr, and Patrick Sweeney.

UPDATE: For ALA President, I endorse Courtney Young. I cannot recommend her enough. Courtney was one of the first people I met at ALA and since that time she has continually served as a model of professionalism: the type of model that I think we all should work emulate in our own lives. Her passion and her experience will lead our organization well. For more information, please see her candidate page.

 

My Official Statement of Professional Concern

I am primarily concerned with building communities and creating opportunities that help young professionals bridge the gap between graduate work in library science and professional employment. I’m particularly interested in running this term because ALA will be formulating its new strategic plan, in preparation for the sunset of the 2015 plan. I believe it’s important that we have a strong coalition of young professionals involved in the planning process: librarians who would think beyond the horizon and imagine the myriad of possibilities that contemporary technology will bring to our profession.

 

Question 1: What is the first thing you plan to do on Council?

One of my personal/professional agenda items in Council is to have a role in the strategic planning process for the organization. Libraries, like many service professions, have a strong tendency to default to being reactive to the world around us, but strategic planning and future thinking can help us to define our own future and create new opportunities. So one of my first actions on Council will be to identify those committees and ad hoc groups (official or otherwise) that are most interested in writing their own future for libraries in the 21st century.

 

Question 2: Many in the ThinkTank-for-ALA caucus referenced young members/new professionals in their platforms. What is one concrete step ALA can take to engage this demographic? And, if elected, how will you ensure Council pursues it?

One concrete thing we can do is work more with student members and create more opportunities for involvement. Programs like Emerging Leaders and Student-to-Staff are a good start, but are limited in their reach. ALA could sponsor student projects and research by helping to bring collaborators together, providing a [virtual] work-space and scaffolding, and offer funding. Creating more mentorship opportunities is extremely important. I don’t think we lack for interested mentees, but over the years I’ve noticed many groups in ALA struggling to find enough mentors to support the number of interested mentees. So finding incentives for mentors is a challenge that we should address.

 

Question 3: What is one thing you plan to learn more about before being elected to council?

Getting to know the structure of the Council (both formally through its by-laws and informally through its committees, constituencies, etc) will be a challenge, as I see it. It will take some time to get the lay of the land, but it is on the top of my priority list prior to taking office. Every organization has a unique culture of communication and knowing how that is so for Council is, in my opinion, indispensable in order to make things happen.

 

Question 4: How do you plan to connect with ALA Members while on Council?

In addition to Twitter, FB, personal blogs, and ALA Connect, I plan on reaching out to my local community. As one of the largest urban areas in the country, we have both a city-wide and county-wide library system, two large universities (not to mention a number of smaller institutions, both public and private, as well as the community college system), and the LAUSD. By creating opportunities for networking and fellowship (something which I am passionate about and help bring about though the “Librarians in La La Land” social group), I hope to connect with librarians in their daily lives.

 

Question 5: What are 3 reasons people should vote for you?

  1. I will step forward. I’m willing to raise my hand and stick out my neck. Call it drive, call it passion, call it what you will, but I’ll be among the first people to volunteer for a task, to take the lead on a project, and to risk my time and attention. I’ve often been told that in large organizations half the battle is simply stepping forward, so my strategy is to get that part out of the way as quickly as possible and get to business.

  2. I will listen. I’m willing to admit when I don’t know enough, which means I’ll be reaching out to you as members of ALA to keep me informed of your needs, your desires, and your hopes for the organization. My door (virtual and IRL) is always open. Likewise, I hope you will feel comfortable coming to me with your concerns at conferences or online.

  3. I will be transparent. I hesitate to use that word, given it’s one of the many overused buzzwords of our time, but I think it best describes my philosophy toward leadership. I make no effort to hide my intentions and I am perfectly comfortable laying my cards on the table. Through my personal blog, Twitter, ALA Connect, FB, etc. I will make my goals as clear as possible so that you can understand my actions and trust my decisions. Concurrently, I hope you will feel the same openness toward me in letting me know what you need from your ALA Council.

If you any additional questions about me, why I’m running for ALA Council, or my goals, please don’t hesitate to contact me.