In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today and tomorrow consist of interviews with the candidates for 2017-18 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect, Lisa Von Drasek and Jamie Naidoo . Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.
Today’s interview is with Lisa Von Drasek:
1. What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?
Even members may not realize that ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. ALSC membership is a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty. The ALSC president is the and ambassador for library service to children, the voice and face of the division. As that representative, it is essential to be a listener and learner in order to provide leadership.
2. What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?
I am a team player. I work well with others, knowing that if we all bring our strengths to the table, we can accomplish together what far exceeds an individual effort. As a passionate advocate for children’s librarianship, my strengths include creative vision, a broad knowledge of the varieties of service, and the ability to communicate to all kinds of audiences. I am fluent in current technologies for engagement and education. I have been recognized for my in-depth understanding of public service, knowledge of children’s literature, literacy, and educational best practices.
3. What area of library service to children is your favorite?
Personally and professionally, public service and outreach are my passions. That said, being a mentor goes hand-in-hand. At the most recent ALA midwinter, an ALSC member came up to me at an event and said that I was the person who made her feel welcome in ALSC over 10 years ago.
My work is to strengthen our communities’ understanding that libraries and librarians are an essential part of every child’s and every family’s life and experience. Community, education, equity, and social services are all interconnected with public and school library services to children and families. I welcome every occasion to talk about libraries. As a result, I have been part of creative collaborations that have been tremendously rewarding for my communities and for me as a professional.
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?
Anyone who is involved in any facet of library service to children would benefit from membership in ALSC. We provide professional development, community, advocacy, as well as practical advice for navigating the complicated worlds of literacy, digital learning, collection development, education, and child welfare. We are a ready-made community of mentors. Over the past twenty years I have participated in new initiatives that have revitalized long-term members and engaged new members in our profession. One only needs to attend the overflowing membership meetings to feel the excitement and engagement. The Morris Seminars (a model in book discussion and criticism) provide unique critical thinking training about our literature. The ALSC institutes and the on-line professional development and forums reach wider than the annual and mid-winter conferences. Long-term members enjoy the opportunities to share and learn about current best practices and new innovations of librarians across the nation. Every Child Ready to Read continues to be a milestone program for all who serve early childhood. These and more signify the value of membership.
5. What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?
Now is the time to take advantage of cutting edge technologies. We can increase engagement by providing resources and one-on-one mentorship through social media and list-serves. ALSC is already piloting new memberships through scholarships and I would like to see us reaching out to members who have not seen themselves as an active part of the ALSC community. I appreciate the recent initiatives that partner not only with YALSA and AASL but also EIMERT as well as the National Association of Early Childhood Teachers and would build on those relationships.
6. How has ALSC membership impacted your life? How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?
ALSC and ALA are essential to what makes me a children’s services librarian. In my early career, supervisors and mentors emphasized that service to the profession was what defined a professional librarian. Participating in committee work has exposed me to a diversity of service to children that I would not have had in my branch library or as a teacher. I have learned to say “yes” even when I was unsure of my competencies in that area. Each “yes” is an opportunity to learn and grow. As an at-large ALA Council representative and as the ALSC Councilor my votes and advocacy provided much needed representation for children’s library services on the national stage.
My service as a member of the ALSC Board of Directors has provided me with an understanding of the process and the purpose behind the organization. The leadership by fellow ALSC members has given me the training to advocate on the local, state, and national level on behalf of library services to all children. The professional competencies as developed by ALSC are my guide to my own development as well as my teaching practice.
7. Advances in technology are dramatically impacting libraries. What are your thoughts on how ALSC can best continue to be a positive force for librarians, for libraries, and for children?
We work with “big” ALA and other divisions to insure accessibility to technology. The guidelines set forth by ALSC and the media mentorship program have shown librarians to be on the forefront of positive evaluation and technological learning. We can continue to evolve and examine our practices and service in relationship to developing technologies. For librarians, technology is the way to keep us connected with our peers in the community and stay involved virtually. ALSC has been developing new ways to serve its members who cannot attend conference through online courses and discussions, virtual committee positions as well as providing regional institutes. ALSC professional development content can be published in the format of digital exhibits to provide open access to the collective knowledge of our membership.
8. ALSC has a commitment to conversations on diversity and inclusion and the essential roles that children’s librarians have in ensuring rich and diverse collections and programming. How will you work to enhance this commitment?
I have had a lifelong commitment to diversity and inclusion. My work in the teaching and reviewing of children’s literature, child literacy, early childhood education, service to the community, and mentorship through organizations like ALSC, the Children’s Book Council and the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street have demonstrated that commitment.
I know that our work for inclusion and diversity is not only for the profession, its materials, and services but must begin with awareness of issues impacting our community and membership. All members of ALSC are charged with creating a community of inclusion and action.
9. In your opinion, what is the most pressing challenge to our profession right now?
Persuading the public, government representatives, and granting agencies that children’s librarians both in the public and school arenas are essential to the educational, cultural, and social lives of children and families. I was privileged to receive advocacy training as an “early career” librarian. This training has served me on a local level as a member of the Brooklyn Heights Friends Library Board, in meetings with representatives on the state level in Albany, on the national level meeting with representatives in Washington DC, and internationally as a representative of ALA at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) World Congress. This coaching should be required as part of degree programs and available to our membership. As ALSC members we must take responsibility for educating our communities of the value that trained professionals bring to their educational and social communities.
10. What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?
I am honored to be asked to stand for election.
I have been a public librarian, a school librarian, a teacher of teachers and librarians. I am an advocate. I continue in my present employment to work hands-on with families, teachers, and children. Here is my website for more information: https://www.lib.umn.edu/about/staff/lisa-von-drasek.
The ALA Website states that the 2017 elections will open on March 13 and close on April 5; eligible members will be sent their voting credentials via email between March 13-15, 2017. To be eligible to vote, individuals must be members in good standing of ALA as well as applicable divisions and round tables as of January 31, 2017.