In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today consist of interviews with the candidates for 2015-16 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect: Tali Balas and Elizabeth “Betsy” Orsburn. Each candidate was given ten questions and submitted written answers.
This afternoon’s interview is with Tali Balas:
1. What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?
I think the most important role of the ALSC President is to be a leader; and by that I mean she needs to be able to listen, build consensus, and make tough decisions. ALSC is an amazing organization filled with bright, caring professionals who come from a variety of backgrounds and who are in various stages of their careers. The President needs to be able to listen to the members and help build consensus so that the organization and the members continue to thrive. Sometimes this means making decisions that are not 100% agreed upon but we need to trust the process we have so that we can continue to grow and move forward.
2. What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?
Passion, creativity, consistency, and organization. I have an enormous amount of energy and drive and would be honored to apply my skills to keeping ALSC vital in the 21st century. I am a process nerd and love figuring out how an organization works and how it could improve without losing its core values.
3. What area of library service to children is your favorite?
I love it all! Outreach, programming, teaching, collection development, cataloging, finances. The beauty of being a school librarian is that I am able to do everything from processing books to putting on puppet shows. This variety is why I love being a children’s librarian!
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?
ALSC offers library professionals the opportunity to meet people from all over the country who have different experiences and points of view. This mix of people creates a dynamic space that allows for new ideas and relationships to form. ALSC provides its members with so many opportunities to develop professionally which is imperative whether you are early or late in your career. It is because of ALSC that I learned about the difference between endowments and long-term investments, how to create a strategic plan, and conduct a webinar. ALSC provides experiences that are not necessarily available at a local level.
5. What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?
The advantage of being a member of ALSC is the impact you can have at a national level and the relationships you can develop with people from around the country. We need our current members to speak with their local colleagues and find out what they need, bring that information back to ALSC, and find ways to meet those needs. Recruiting new members is something that all of our current members can do to help ALSC remain active and current. I would also like our current members to create a reel for youtube on the benefits of ALSC to help us reach even more potential members.
6. How has ALSC membership impacted your life? How has your membership in ALSC impacted library service to children?
ALSC has completely shaped my professional life. My career and my program have been elevated in ways I would never have expected. At the beginning of my career I learned new programming skills, heard about innovative services others were offering and fell in love with first time authors. Later, ALSC provided me with opportunities to learn about organizations, management, and process in ways I wouldn’t have had in a one school environment. But, most importantly, it gave me the courage to try new things in my program that have had a huge impact on how my students experience the library. On a personal level, I have been introduced to amazing professionals who have become lifelong friends and supportive colleagues.
7. Changes in the economy and 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 need to encourage librarians to embrace the change and go boldly into the future. ALSC will continue to broadcast the importance of libraries and support librarians in their communities. We need to make sure that people understand the value that librarians bring in an age where everything is done by consensus. There is a major difference between a librarian’s expertise and the reviews on Amazon. ALSC needs to be at the forefront of advocating for librarians and libraries.
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 want to continue to build on the momentum that is focused right now on ensuring that diversity, in all of its manifestations, is reflected in materials for children at all levels. Having the books themselves is not negotiable if we want to create diverse collections and programming. We also need to make sure that those books reach children, that librarians are buying the books for their collections and that they are getting on the shelves. I have always wanted to create a legion of librarians who makeover a library in need by processing, cataloging and shelving books leaving the librarian time and energy to create quality programming with a revamped space.
9. What is your motivation in running for this position?
My desire is to make sure that ALSC is front and center in the national discussion when we talk about what services are imperative in a child’s life. I want to translate the passion I have for making sure that high quality library services are available to all children into tangible items that will help our members and the organization move forward.
10. What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?
I believe that the gravitas of ALSC needs to be deepened through a marketing campaign that is followed by actions that are strong and clear. I have a vision that ALSC is well known in all types of learning and political institutions and can advocate effectively for funding for all communities. Libraries will once again be recognized as the cornerstone of a democratic society and our goal should be that everyone should have access to the myriad variety of services we provide.
Thank you, Tali!