ALSC Board

Thom’s Message to ALSC

Judging by the activity in my inbox of late, many of you have heard that the ALSC Board has elected me as vice-president/president-elect of our division. The circumstances of my election are difficult, for all of us. Many of us knew Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz, and witnessed their industry and commitment first hand. Others never met them, but benefited from their considerable contributions to ALSC, all the same. Kate was a good friend, a great lady, and a formidable children’s librarian. She was on her way to being an exceptional ALSC president. Her dedication will serve as an example to me as I move to take up this mantle.

Things are happening quickly for me. I did not run for this office, and did not have a stretch of time to prepare myself for the procedural or philosophical facets of its many responsibilities. Similarly, you didn’t have the opportunity to get to know me. In a certain sense, we’re in this together. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, and let you know who I am, and what children’s librarianship means to me.

I have worked serving children in public libraries in just about every conceivable capacity and context. I have worked as a page, a clerk, a library assistant, a children’s librarian, a youth services supervisor, a youth services coordinator, and a youth services manager. I have worked in busy downtown branches and in rural libraries, and known the tussles and delights particular to those conditions. I have worked in libraries where kids overrun the building as soon as school lets out, and libraries where constant, concerted outreach is the only way to reach a child. Though I have never worked as a librarian in a school, I have worked closely with school librarians, across my career. This varied experience has taught me that while individual situations can define our perspectives and approaches to our work, the commitment that we share is far greater than any of the smaller issues that might divide us. At the end of the day (and at the beginning of the day, and in the middle of the night), we believe in the joy of reading, and its central place in the heart of a happy child.

I have my opinions about what constitutes excellent library service to children (those of you who know me already can attest to that fact). But my job as ALSC vice-president/president-elect is not to pursue my own agenda. My job is to help you do your job, whether you’re a never-miss-a-conference seasoned professional, or a brand new librarian just out of the gate. And I am committing myself to pursuing our collective agenda, with all of the diligence and transparency I possess.

For the last three years I have worked as Youth Services Manager at the Austin Public Library in Austin, TX. I leave that job in a few weeks, to take a position at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, as a Lecturer in Library Science, and Curator of the new Butler Children’s Literature Center there. I will be out of pocket for a few months, as I transition from one job to the next. I have set up an e-mail account for the purposes of ALSC business, which will follow me as I go. I hope that you’ll feel free to contact me, at, to let me know what’s concerning you, and how your professional association can help.

In the past few days I have received lots of lovely, encouraging reassurance from fellow members of ALSC, and for that I am unutterably grateful. The confluence of events surrounding our Midwinter Conference, with the upcoming vacancy of our Executive Director, and the tragic accident that robbed us of two dynamic colleagues, has set us on a challenging path. Knowing the support that comes from our united strength is both a comfort and an inspiration.

Thank you very much.

Thom Barthelmess
ALSC Vice-President/President-Elect

One comment

  1. Brad Hooper

    Beautifully expressed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *