In this monthly feature, we 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 continue this series, we invite you to meet ALSC Board member, Aimee Strittmatter.
Why did you join ALSC? How long have you been a member? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?
I joined ALA as a student member in 1999 while attending the University of Michigan’s School of Information program. Six months into the program, I had learned about an amazing deal—join the ALA and the MLA as a student member for a bargain price of $50. The joint membership program still exists and is available in 44 states. It’s now offered at $40. I made the most of my new ALA membership and served as president of the ALA Student Chapter my final year in the program. I scraped together enough funding to attend my first ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio just before I graduated in 2000. I used it as an opportunity to make use of the ALA Office for Human Resource Development and Recruitment’s conference placement service. I was so green, I thought I was setting up informational meetings with potential employers, rather than formal interviews. I had the good fortune to interview with Liz Huntoon who was then Chicago Public Library’s Coordinator of Children’s Services and to meet and chat with Mary Dempsey who was the Chicago Public Library Commissioner at that time. I joined ALSC upon accepting a position with the Chicago Public Library as a children’s librarian at the Archer Heights Branch.
In 2005, I became an employee of ALA/ALSC in the position of Deputy Director. My responsibilities at the time included managing the book and media awards program, Every Child Ready to Read, and coordinating conference programs and the National Institute. In 2009, I interviewed for and accepted the position of ALSC Executive Director. I still maintain my professional memberships in ALA and ALSC.
What strengths do you bring to the ALSC Board of Directors?
In my role as Executive Director, I provide leadership, strategic direction, and management oversight across a wide spectrum of the association’s programs, initiatives, and operations, working closely with ALSC staff, Board of Directors, member leaders, partners and ALA staff.
I am committed to steward leadership. The Board considers ALSC’s mission, core values, and short-term strategies via the strategic plan as part of its knowledge-based decision making. The Board strives to build a culture of trust and to empower our member groups to work on projects and resources that align with our values and move both the association and the profession forward in order to support communities in building healthy, successful futures for all children.
I also strive toward a continuous improvement process. I reflect on member comments, recommendations, questions, and also on Board discussion. I am always thinking of how we can do things better, more efficiently, and how we can present the information about the “how to” of the association in a more accessible manner.
What have you learned while serving on the Board?
I serve in an ex-officio capacity as an advisor and consultant due to the institutional knowledge I provide. Board members are a committed group of individuals, with unique and differing perspectives and experiences, and are dedicated to ensuring the success and future stability of the organization. Decisions made now will affect us in the future and that is why the Board uses knowledge-based decision making. I’ve come to think of myself as an information broker. The flow of information among our 70+ committees, task forces, current and potential partners, and other ALA units is comparable to the powerful spray of an open fire hydrant. My role is to use my organizational knowledge to assess the fast and furious flow and then stream relevant information to other committee work, individual programs and services, and Board consideration in order to move ALSC’s strategic priorities forward.
What do you wish ALSC members knew about ALSC or about the ALSC Board of directors?
While it may seem like decision-making, or ALSC itself, moves at a glacial pace, there is a tremendous amount of work happening all the time. ALSC’s staff of eight works closely with committees and task forces on a wide variety of current and new programs, services, and educational opportunities. There are many ways to become involved or engage with ALSC beyond traditional committee work. I also recommend you read or keep up with the ALSC Board’s meeting agendas, documents, and minutes as a way to stay informed on issues related to the association.
ALSC members should reach out to me if…
The ALSC Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is currently seeking candidates for leadership positions for the 2019 ballot through March 31, 2018. These positions are three-year terms that begin July 1, 2019, and end June 30, 2022. I’d be happy to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the various positions with anyone who has an interest. Additionally, the dedicated ALSC staff is always available to answer questions you may have throughout the year.