In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts this morning and this afternoon consist of interviews with the candidates for ALSC 2017-18 Vice President/President-Elect, Randall Enos and Cecilia McGowan. Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.
This morning’s interview is with Randall Enos.
1. What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?
The most important role of the president of any organization is to be a good leader. With ALSC, it is important that our leader work effectively with the ALSC staff and the multitude of volunteers, especially the ALSC Board, to make sure that the tasks at hand are accomplished in the best way possible and to guide the groups in addressing new issues that arise in the most effective manner. It is also important that our leader help provide the maximum visibility for ALSC with a strong presence at library-related functions and via an assortment of communication tools. In addition, the ALSC President should serve as an outstanding role model for good leadership.
2. What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?
I have attended many leadership sessions (including many helpful ALSC events), but more importantly over the course of my long career in library work, through my experiences as president, chair, convener of diverse groups and organizations and service on the ALSC Board and ALA Council, I have honed my skill at helping groups work together to arrive at thoughtful and meaningful decisions. I understand what it takes to keep a group functional and on the track towards success. I am a firm believer in forging and maintaining valuable partnerships. I pay attention to detail while taking in the big picture. I can be a passionate advocate when it comes to services for children and their families. I practice careful communication skills, especially the art of listening openly to diverse points of view.
3. What area of library service to children is your favorite?
Answering this question is like picking a favorite book or favorite child! I love all of it – or almost all. Some administrative stuff I can do without, but that’s a small price to pay for the joy of the rest of it. In my current job, I consult almost exclusively with adults. I enjoy bringing people together to help them improve their work lives. I feel very blessed to work with youth librarians, but I also cherish the few opportunities I have to work with children helping them find materials they need and providing meaningful programs. Although early in my career it was programming that I gravitated towards, now it is being involved in both consuming and promoting good books that I enjoy
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?
For those who want to be topnotch professionals and develop a strong comradery with others in the world of library services to children, ALSC is the place to be.
All of the services ALSC provides are important to both new and long-term members for different reasons which is demonstrated by the fact that both groups take advantage of and gain from the range of services offered by ALSC.
New members (and new librarians) can benefit from the many educational opportunities provided by ALSC to learn about issues they might not have encountered in their education or on the job while long-term members can keep abreast of new developments in the profession through the varieties of workshops, conferences and webinars offered.
The various ALSC communication tools – listservs, blog postings, publications, etc. are used by members at many points in their careers. For example, on alsc-l both new and long term members post and respond and both ends of the spectrum benefit. In addition the media lists and other ALSC documents for public consumption are heavily used by those new to the profession and more experienced librarians alike.
Although the opportunity to work on a committee may not be considered a “service” that important work provides a wonderful opportunity to enhance one’s professional experience and sharpen one’s skills no matter how many years of experience they might have.
I don’t believe that the networking and comradery that are such a valuable part of the ALSC experience are listed as “services,” but they are definitely important membership perks and remain significant at different levels throughout one’s career.
Last, but certainly not least, the advocacy service provided by ALSC members that benefits all of us should be supported though continued membership to the organization by all youth librarians.
5. What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?
One idea is to keep ALSC and its activities and services front and center of the profession to encourage recruitment. Everyone wants to be part of a successful, meaningful, robust organization, so the ALSC committees must be kept active and the results of their work should be made visible to all in the profession and to the general public.
A way to keep members involved it to acknowledge all who volunteer for committee work even if there isn’t currently a committee opening for them. They should receive communication that their offer is valued and will be acted on as soon as possible. It is important to keep members engaged in committee work by finding the position that best suits their strengths and needs within the opportunities available from ALSC.
The scholarships and programs aimed at new librarians need to be maintained and perhaps broadened and strengthened to recruit more new members. As an example, when I was in library school, I was a “student to ALA” which involved attending the annual conference and shadowing librarians and ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom staff. This was one of the most valuable activities I did while a student and, although I wasn’t able to join ALA early in my career, the experience stayed with me and lead me to become an active member.
There is a misconception among some that ALSC and ALA are all about conference attendance, an activity which is not possible for many, so it’s important to emphasize that members can be involved at many levels and some committee work and activities can be accomplished virtually.
6. How has ALSC membership impacted your life? How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?
Having access to ALSC services as a member has been helpful, but it is the active participation in ALSC projects and conferences that has given me many tools with which to do my job better. I have been able to pass along much of what I’ve learned to the librarians with whom I work in our member libraries with the result that they have been able to expand the services they offer to children and families.
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?
ALSC has done a good job of addressing the impact of technology on library services not only through its educational opportunities, documents such as the media mentoring books and papers, but also by using technology to conduct committee business and by increasing the number of virtual committees for example. ALSC continually examines its services to determine which are relevant in our rapidly evolving world and which are not. This not only continues to address the needs of members, but also serves as an example for members to evaluate the relevance of their own services.
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?
While ALSC has a commendable history of promoting diversity and inclusion and in many ways is ahead of the curve, there is always room for improvement. I would like to explore methods to encourage more minorities to become children’s librarians through scholarships and encouragement programs and develop new avenues to get people of color and other minorities involved in ALSC activities. I would like to see more educational opportunities on a variety of topics aimed at diversity and inclusion. As this is one of the objectives of the ALSC Strategic Plan, perhaps a diversity task force could be formed to study the situation and charged with presenting a proposal for action to the Board.
I would encourage discussion to ensure that all ALSC committees continue to represent diverse points of view and all services offered are sensitive to all cultures.
9. In your opinion, what is the most pressing challenge to our profession right now? How would you confront it?
I think the challenge to remain relevant to the needs of our increasingly tech savvy population is more acute than ever and also the struggle to provide services to the populations that need us the most has become even more of a challenge in the current political climate.
I think it’s important that ALSC stay on top of the cultural shifts and provide information and services that give librarians the tools to adapt.
10. What else would you like the ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?
I am in awe of the collective talent and commitment and the amount of work being conducted by various ALSC committees and as President would do my best to keep the momentum going. I have loved every aspect of my work with ALSC and have benefitted immensely – I couldn’t even begin to count the ways, so I am thrilled to be on the ballot for the position of President.
The ALA Website states that the 2017 elections will open on March 12 and close on April 4; eligible members will be sent their voting credentials via email between March 12-14, 2018. 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, 2018.