ALSC Board

Viki Ash
2009 ALSC Vice-President/President-Elect Candidate

What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President? What are the necessary skills to be ALSC President? What strengths would you bring to the office?

I see two primary functions for the ALSC President.

First, it is the responsibility of the President to listen to, advocate for and be appreciative of the members of the organization. Many ALSC members volunteer countless hours undertaking the business of the organization. Others depend on ALSC for professional development and support, while still others are seeking ways to become more active and engaged in the profession both locally and globally. All ALSC members are valuable to us as a whole and I believe it is the President’s job to keep the needs and interest of the members as the guiding concerns of the organization.

Second — it is the responsibility of the President to see the big picture. With the assistance of the staff, the Priority Group Consultants, and the Committee Chairs, the ALSC Board is called upon to make numerous decisions that have long term implications for the organization. The President’s job is to consider all such decisions in light of ALSC’s historically held traditions and future viability.

If elected to the office, I would make every effort to lead the organization with these two responsibilities foremost in my mind and actions.

With limited financial resources and many other ALA divisions (AASL, YALSA, PLA, to name a few) as well as other national, state and local organizations serving professionals who work with youth, 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?

In the current economy, there is little doubt that many ALSC members and potential members will have to carefully consider how to spend their professional dollars. The competition for those dollars will come from many sources. But in my mind — and for me personally — there is no question as to where those funds should be spent. My membership dollars, over the past 20 plus years, have provided me with an on-going professional education, a national network of friends and colleagues who share my interests and concerns, and countless hours of stimulating conversation, in person, online, and, in the old days, via surface mail about library issues related to children’s services and children’s literature.

I believe that both old and new members of ALSC are recruited and retained by providing them with meaningful ways to participate, thought-provoking programs, projects and seminars, and a sense of shared purpose. In my thinking, ALSC thrives in both good times and bad as a purpose-driven organization. And that purpose? To work diligently to assure that all children have access to high-quality library service.

Please explain the importance of the ALSC Strategic Plan. What is the biggest challenge facing ALSC? How do you respond to the comment that our organization is too much about awards and not enough about children?

Certainly the book awards are high-profile projects of ALSC. However, they are not the only projects of note in the ALSC portfolio. Although I have had the pleasure of serving on several book award committees, among my favorite ALSC assignments was a meaningful stint on the Preschool Services Committee which was all about serving children and their caregivers. For me, one of our biggest challenges as an organization is maintaining the meaningful traditions of the past (including the book awards) while planning for a future of dynamic and innovative service. The ALSC Strategic Plan is the blueprint for that future. But — a strategic plan for any organization — is only meaningful when it is a living and breathing document that illuminates — and activates — the values and visions of that organization.

What area of library service to children is your favorite? If elected, what topic would you like to highlight for either a preconference or the Charlemae Rollins President’s Program?

I love sharing books with children — in read-aloud sessions with my own grandchildren, in story times and other library programs, and in conversation in the stacks with kids, their parents and teachers. Recently, I have begun to extend these conversations into the electronic realm through San Antonio PL’s web page and SAPL Kids (blog). I find all of these interactions extremely satisfying. Really — is there anything more rewarding than getting a great book (or by extension — a great library resource of any kind) into a pair of eager young hands?

In 2010, the Sibert Medal will celebrate its tenth anniversary. I think this presents us with a wonderful opportunity for a preconference on information books. So many of us equate pleasure reading with fiction reading — but for many of our young customers reading non-fiction is a great source of enjoyment. I think this disconnect is an area where many of us could use some meaningful professional education. Additionally, the easy availability of information via the net has seriously impacted the delivery of children’s reference service and the nature of juvenile non-fiction collections. Again, this is an area where some professional conversation is in order. If elected, this is preconference topic I would like to pursue.

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

My membership and participation in ALSC have been great sources of professional pride and inspiration for me. Attending the Annual Conference, the Midwinter Meeting, reading Children and Libraries, visiting the ALSC blog — all send me back to my desk at my library with a renewed sense of purpose. I hear about the exciting programs and projects of my peers have undertaken, the innovative ways they are connecting kids and books, the community partnerships they have built and I come back determined to do more, to do better, to remember just how important the day to day work of children’s librarianship is.

[Note from ALSC Blog manager: Thanks so very much to both candidates for their willingness to answer my questions so thoroughly on such short notice. Julie Corsaro’s responses to these questions are at http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/?p=734.]

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