ALSC Board Member Profile

Meet Your ALSC Board: Vicky Smith

Late this summer, we began a feature in which we profile ALSC Board members. We hope to offer information about the people who work to guide the organization so that you can feel more comfortable in reaching out to them with your concerns, questions, or comments. To continue this series, we invite you to meet ALSC Board member, Vicky Smith.

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Headshot of Vicky Smith
Photo courtesy of Vicky Smith

I joined ALSC as a library school student at the same time I joined ALA, in 1993. (Happily, “1993” is part of my ALA membership number, or there’s absolutely no way I would be able to remember that.) To understand why I joined ALSC, it’s important to know why I became a children’s librarian: to serve on the Newbery. I have often reflected that it’s a darn good thing it turned out that I really enjoy storytime and reference, because I have spent a whole lot more time in those activities than I have on the Newbery! Anyhow, when my children’s-services professor told our class that you had to join ALSC to be on the Newbery, I joined right up. When I was a public librarian, I also had a membership in PLA, but since moving into my current job as children’s & teen editor of Kirkus Reviews, I have let that lapse but joined YALSA and EMIERT.

I feel that I bring two very separate sets of experiences to ALSC’s board. First, and probably more obviously, I bring familiarity with the book-publishing industry and its workings, which can be useful in those spheres of ALSC’s activity that intersect with publishing. The other is my time working in an independent public library in a mostly rural state with low levels of formal degree attainment but high levels of passion and commitment. More recently, as I have worked with Kirkus on bringing attention to diversity issues, I hope that I’ve been able to help with ALSC’s commitments to diversity and inclusion as well.

In serving on the board, I have become so much more appreciative of the amount of work accomplished by both ALSC’s incredibly talented paid staff and its equally dedicated members. ALSC is a much larger nonprofit organization than any other I have been involved in (nonprofits in Maine run on the small side), and for both staff and volunteers to operate meaningfully and effectively impresses the heck out of me. As a person who’s been involved in committee work off and on since becoming active in ALSC, I have had a chance to see the volunteer side of things, but I don’t think I appreciated the work being done all year long by the staff till my board work really brought it to my attention.

Possibly the biggest thing I wish ALSC members knew about the board is that although it’s not known for its speedy work, it’s a collaborative body that does take member input seriously. It is, however, a body that has formal procedures for considering change, and a part of the procedure is submitting a Board Action Request Form, which is available on the ALSC Forms page of the ALA/ALSC website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/coms/alscforms. ALSC’s board meetings are public meetings, so members can track the progress of suggested changes. Our in-person meetings are held at ALA’s midwinter meeting and annual conference, but for time-sensitive matters, we convene online as necessary throughout the year. Online board meetings are announced at the alscboard electronic listserv, which any member can join with read-only status to follow board activity, and midwinter and annual meeting agendae are posted there as well.

ALSC members who are interested in the work of the board, either as prospective members or to see what changes are being considered in ALSC, can reach out to me or other board members to be guided to the appropriate resources.

It’s been a great privilege to serve on the ALSC board, and although three years is a fairly lengthy term of service, I still feel like I’m learning. One doesn’t get bored on the board.

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Vicky Smith, ALSC Board Member (2015-2018), is the children’s and teen editor at Kirkus Reviews.  You can reach her at vicky.smith.me@gmail.com.

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