ALSC Board

Cecilia McGowan: 2018-19 ALSC Vice President/President Elect Candidate

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 afternoon’s interview is with Cecilia McGowan.

1. What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?

Work collaboratively with the Board, membership and ALSC Executive Director to fulfill the goals around the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, and to serve as an advocate for children and their caregivers by supporting the education and work of children’s services staff.

2. What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?

I’m patient, well organized, friendly, inclusive, thoughtful, a community builder and I have a good sense of humor. I believe my greatness strength is the passion I have brought to my 30+ years of service to children and their caregivers inside the library and directly in the community.

3. What area of library service to children is your favorite?

I’ve deeply enjoyed every aspect of my work but recently the most satisfying has been serving children in the summer where they are in the community with Summer Reading, programs, mobile library services and assisting them in returning to school in the fall with no summer slump.

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 is the preeminent children’s services organization that helps new children’s staff develop the skills and connections needed for a successful career, especially for those that might be working for a library with a small staff and limited or no mentoring. There are so many resources available for new members! Mentoring, conference programs, committee work with members with vast expertise and experience, grants, scholarships, the Institute. For longer term members, conference programs, the Institute, committee work all invigorate and re-inspire year after year. Plus there is a built in knowledge bank just waiting to assist with questions and quandaries large and small.

5. What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?

I think personally inviting and sponsoring new members is the very best way to bring them in and once we have them involved they will do the same. I think the regional visits by ALSC board members and Executive Director is brilliant and I think this could be built on to bring in new members.

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

I honestly would not be where I am in my career or life without the support, training, education and mentorship of so many ALSC members. I have worked in tiny rural libraries where ALSC friends have been my lifeline. They have also been there in my current position spanning a 2,200 square mile service area and 49 libraries from small rural branches to large suburban ones. No matter the challenge or the size, there is always someone there to help me figure it out. Without the resources, connections, friendships and education from ALSC, the service and services I’ve been able to provide, develop and advocate for all the children and their caregivers I have provided would have been of lower quality and certainly not as innovative.

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 been in front of the curve in my view in tackling the challenges and opportunities in technology and children. The 2018 President’s program was useful, thoughtful, fact-based and just what everyone needed to help us help parents make educated choices and decisions for their children. More training and information like this is what practicing librarians need.

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?

By continuing to focus on the Areas of Strategic Action, by inviting and recruiting diverse new members and appointing them to committees and by sponsoring programs that invite and demand critical conversations about how we serve all children.

9. In your opinion, what is the most pressing challenge to our profession right now? How would you confront it?

Our greatest challenge is bringing people into our profession that look like, live with, and understand the range of experiences our children are living each and every day.

10. What else would you like the ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?

I’m tenacious, hard-working and I don’t believe there is a higher calling than being a children’s librarian.

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.

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