ALSC Board

Ellen Riordan: 2013-14 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect Candidate

In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts for today and tomorrow will consist of interviews with the candidates for 2013-14 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect, Rhonda Gould and Ellen Riordan. Each candidate was given eight questions and submitted written answers.

Today’s interview is with Ellen Riordan.

Ellen Riordan1.      What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?

The most important role of the ALSC president is to be an articulate advocate for our profession and our public– children and their families.  It is critical in this remarkably changing time in libraries to be visible and articulate about what these changes in technology, economy and education mean to our work and what we do for our public every day in libraries all over the country.

2.   What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?

I bring experience and vision.  In the 25 years I have been in public libraries I have had a variety of jobs; Branch Librarian, Materials Selector, Coordinator of Children’s Services and now, Chief of Planning, Programs and Partnerships.  I believe I have the ability to see both our value in the traditional things we do every day like story time and reader’s advisory and the larger impact those activities on issues like educational reform, early childhood education, literacy, parent engagement, etc.  It very important to be able to tie what we do with why it is important. It’s all about framing a message.

I also understand the business of ALSC.  As a former Board Member and active committee participant I have planned, presented and supported ALSC programs and services.

3.   What area of library service to children is your favorite?

I love sharing books with children and I do miss it in my new position so scheduled a story time every other month in our Central Children’s Department. I used to work there and the Department Head, Selma Levi was my first mentor in children’s services.  It is wonderful to work with her again and it really helps me remember the true purpose of our profession, to connect reading and books to children’s lives as early as we can and as often as we can.  It makes my whole day.

4.      Why should someone choose to join ALSC?   What services do you feel ALSC provides that are valuable to new members? To long-term members? What are your ideas for reaching members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?

The Association of Library Service to Children is the place where professionals will meet other professionals who share their passion for the work we do.  That is an important thing for new professionals in particular.  It is a wonderful thing to meet smart, committed, kind people who believe in the importance of our work.  For people who have been in the field awhile it is invigorating to see the new people and new ideas.

New professionals’ comfort with and understanding of technology–how it is used and its value–is an essential crossroads in the work of ALSC now.  We are truly a learning community. It is an exciting time for new members since there are ample opportunities for younger librarians to guide our profession in this area.  I think to attract new membership we need to be sure we are communicating the opportunities for leadership and participation available in ALSC — like the new member Board position and the Emerging Leaders program.

5.      How has ALSC membership impacted your life?  How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?

Through ALSC I have had amazing professional and personal experiences I have met some of my most treasured friends through work on committees and in the course of planning and presenting programs at annual and midwinter conferences.  These important connections have made my life richer and brought me deep satisfaction that I couldn’t have attained on my own.  That is the crux of ALSC, our connection to each other and our shared passion for our work.

I take what I do seriously and feel that children’s services should have a seat at the administrative table.  I have worked hard in my career in ALSC to model that in my work and offer that perspective on the committees and programs I have participated in and also in my time on the Board of Directors.

6.      Changes in the economy and advances in technology are dramatically impacting libraries. What are your thoughts on how ALSC can best continue to be a positive force?

We ARE a positive force so the challenge is making sure that our public and the larger world understand that the changes in the economy and technology increase the need for skilled passionate library professionals that specialize in understanding how children and their families become literate, informed citizens and readers — that concept  goes hand in hand.

Our best strategy is to continue to improve what is working, like efforts in early literacy, our ability to identify excellence in materials in all formats and genres, and connect those efforts to national efforts like the Third Grade Reading work and Common Core. We have major roles to play in that work and we are well positioned to make that case in our libraries around the country.

We know that in these difficult economic times library use has increased as more people need our services than ever before. Technology has created a glut of instant information that makes the need for connecting to credible and relevant information even more challenging for people.  That is what we do every day.

7.      What strengths would you bring to help ALSC attain the goals of the ALSC Strategic Plan ?

The  ALSC strategic plan’s three goal areas of Advocacy, Education and Access to Library Service is well integrated in the work we do every day like good plans should be.  The next challenge is to begin to understand how to measure effective implementation of the plan and communicate that to members.

I have confidence that our membership is working hard to focus on the goals.  Advocacy in particular is ramping up and is a critical piece in enhancing both education and access. The definition of “underserved” is deliberately a flexible term that could encompass any number of populations.  Deciding on a target population is critical to making an impact and is the place where we can redefine what library service looks like and work to removing barriers of both perception of what libraries are and bringing important services and resources to children and families in formats and situations that are helpful and relevant to them.

8.      What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?

I have a website at which was fun to put together.  It gives some personal background and professional mission.  I think it does a pretty good job of encapsulating who I am as a person and a librarian.


Thanks so much to Ellen Riordan for answering these questions for the ALSC Blog! Tomorrow, Rhonda Gould will answer the same series of questions.

Voting in the 2013 ALA election will begin at 9:00 a.m. Central Time on March 19, 2013. Ballots close at 11:59 p.m. on April 26, 2013.

Voting is an important part of ALSC membership. If you are an ALSC member…  don’t forget to vote!

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  1. Pingback: Rhonda Gould: 2013-14 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect Candidate |

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