Beginning this month, we will work to regularly 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 kick off this series, we invite you to meet ALSC Board member, Amy Koester.
Why did you join ALSC? How long have you been a member? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?
I first joined ALSC as a student member while in library school; my storytelling professor, Christina Jones, made a strong recommendation for getting involved in one’s professional association, even if only as a member who reads up on what others are doing. That was about 7 years ago at this point. I also currently belong to the Public Library Association (PLA), and have previously held memberships to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT).
What strengths do you bring to the ALSC Board of Directors?
One of my strengths that I am pleased to bring to the ALSC Board is my desire to know as much as possible, and then to see and make connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information. I am a big believer in having lots of context for considering a topic or idea—which means I’m always looking for more information to help me better understand what is currently happening and to make better decisions for future endeavors. So I’m the person who has been reading the ALSC Board packets for several years (You can read them too! They’re publicly available on ALA Connect.). Basically, I try to have the broadest base of knowledge available so that I can recognize trends and patterns and have a firm foundation to stand on when contributing to ALSC Board discussions.
Another strength is my love of all things numbers, data, math, and science. I find data analysis and evaluation strategies fascinating.
What have you learned while serving on the Board?
My two biggest takeaways from my time on the Board thus far are a) better understanding how the ALSC Budget works, and b) recognizing just how vital it is to have a diversity of viewpoints and experiences reflected in our Board decisions. While the current Board includes perspectives of professionals from a number of different spheres and geographical areas, we’re under no illusions that there are plenty of perspectives missing from the Board—including a diversity of racial backgrounds and experiences. I’ve been interested to see the ways in which the Board aims to supplement board members’ perspectives with those that are missing from our table, all with the goal of making the best decisions for our members, our organization, and communities we serve. While I’ll be the first to admit that dedication to considering perspectives beyond those held by the Board is not the same thing as actually having a more racially and ethnically diverse Board, it’s a step that we’re committed to taking while we work toward greater equity and diversity within our association.
What do you wish ALSC members knew about ALSC or about the ALSC Board of directors?
I wish more members knew all the different ways you can get involved in the association. When I first joined ALSC, I was of course aware of opportunities to serve on committees like the Newbery and Caldecott. These seemed like later-career options, however, and I wasn’t sure how a new member like me might participate. I wasn’t as aware of all the other types of opportunities to serve and participate, open to anyone: process committees, virtual committees (especially great for those who cannot travel to conferences), taking advantage of the mentorship program, contributing to online learning options, etc. What I’ve learned is that, if you have a desire to participate, there’s a way to do so, even if it’s not the most immediately apparent.
I also wish for members to know about the particular seat I hold on the ALSC Board of Directors: the New-to-ALSC Director position. I’m only the second person to hold this seat, which is an elected seat reserved for individuals who have been ALSC members for 7 years or fewer. Learning about the New-to-ALSC Director position really helped me to realize that my newness to the profession and the association was not a hindrance—rather, the Board actively desires the perspectives and contributions of newer members alongside those of longtime librarians. So if you’re new to ALSC and have a desire to serve on the Board, keep in mind that this seat will next be up for election in 2019!
ALSC members should reach out to me if…
you’re curious about ways to get involved in ALSC but aren’t sure where to begin looking. There’s a lot going on in ALSC—with 4000+ members and great work happening throughout the year, there are a lot of ways in which everyone interested can get involved and contribute. I’ve learned a lot about the different options for participation from fellow members who’ve come before me, and I’m committed to paying forward the knowledge and advice that was shared with me.
(photo courtesy of Amy Koester)
Amy Koester, New-to-ALSC Director for 2016-2019, is the Youth & Family Program Supervisor at Skokie Public Library. You can reach her at email@example.com.