Administrative and Management Skills

Carol K. Phillips: 2020-21 ALSC Vice President/President Elect Candidate

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 ALSC 2019-20 Vice President/President-Elect, Carol K. Phillips and Lucia Gonzalez. Each candidate was given eleven questions and submitted written answers. This morning’s interview is with Carol K. Phillips.

Headshot of Carol Phillips
Photo courtesy of Lifetouch

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

I think it is most important that the ALSC President advocate for children, libraries, and librarians – within our profession, our professional organization (ALA), and society.   As children’s librarians, we know how important our job is.  We know that children need libraries of all kinds.

The president of ALSC needs to be able to listen, learn and work with others to come up with solutions to challenges that face the profession and our organization as we seek to provide equitable library services to all children.

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

I bring my past experience managing a busy youth services department in a public library and my current experience working with children and families in a school library setting.

I bring my experience serving on ALSC process and award committees and as a Priority Group Consultant in our division.  I also bring my past experience as President of the New Jersey Library Association, my work on committees in my state, and even my involvement as a Girl Scout leader!

I am a listener, a doer and a hard worker.

3.  What areas of personal/professional strength or weakness do you feel could be enhanced or improved through this ALSC leadership position?

Through this position, I will be challenged to use and improve my organizational and communication skills, my problem-solving and time management abilities, and my adaptability and leadership traits.  It will be the biggest challenge of my professional career.

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?

It is so important that our profession be in the forefront of the charge to advocate for equitable library services to all children and their families.  ALSC, as part of ALA, is the organization that can accomplish this for us on a national level.  Librarians need to join the effort by being a part of ALSC.

In addition to this, ALSC provides a sounding board for members (new and old), an advocacy platform for library services to all children, and an opportunity for idea-exchange among librarians, while supporting a positive national image so that our services are given the significance they deserve.  Just with the ALSC Blog, there is a wealth of daily tips, program suggestions and thoughtful reflections on our profession – all easily accessible.

For long-term members, ALSC continues to provide new ideas, challenges, friendships and camaraderie as we all continue to grow.

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

Every non-profit organization works to attract and retain members.  We are so fortunate that many of our projects have nationwide notoriety.  We need to do more to connect the Youth Media Awards to our organization and our professional image.  The upcoming 100th Anniversary of the Newbery Award provides us with an opportunity to do this.  Let’s get on the bandwagon for that.

ALSC has restructured standing committees and made much of their work virtual, allowing more people to participate without the requirement to attend conferences.  This, in turn, will bring new talents to our division, new voices and new visions.

I would like to see ALSC reach out more to library schools and state organizations to promote membership with the ALSC Roadshow. Perhaps a digital addition to this program would help.  ALSC can do more within the Roadshow to advertise the free webinar content on current topics that are accessible to members and the usefulness of the ALSC Blog.

It is important to make librarians aware of our organization when they join the profession and all along the way of their careers.

6.  Advances in technology and changes in the political climate 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, along with ALA, will continue to press forth the message of the importance of library services for children and the value of librarians on a national level to make sure lawmakers and citizens are aware of the benefits that can be gained through these services and these professionals.  Libraries, both public and school, will continue to introduce children to advances in technology while making these advances available to them in a non-threatening environment.

7.  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?

As part of the strategic plan, ALSC is committed to continue this effort as we encourage librarians to make sure their collections, programs, services and staff cultures are diverse and inclusive.  Programming, both in person and virtual, will continue along this vein making available substantive suggestions and professional development opportunities through toolkits and webinars, for staff on working with diverse populations.

8.  If elected, what topic would you like to highlight for either a preconference or the Charlemae Rollins President’s Program?

Libraries, public and school, are concerned with the whole child. We encourage children to learn about themselves and develop a healthy sense of their own identity.  My thoughts for a preconference or major program involve mental health wellness for children and the librarians who work with them.  A positive self-image stays with a person for life. The rise in the suicide rate among preteens is troubling.  It is important that children develop coping skills and connect to some form of community which can provide a protective factor for them.  Children who come into our libraries often do just that.  I would like to see a session that educates librarians on the importance of these connections, teaches them how to achieve them, gives ideas for programming (passive and active), and suggestions for further exploration.

9.  What is your motivation in running for this position?

I would like to give back to the organization that has done so much for me professionally and personally.  I have had the opportunity to serve on ALSC committees and task forces which have given me a chance to grow in my professional knowledge and skills, and a chance to meet a lot of pretty cool people!  (And it was hard to say ‘no’ to Thom when he asked me if I would consider running…)

I have found so much satisfaction in my work as a children’s librarian in a public library and in a school.  Having friends and colleagues who feel the same is empowering.

10.  ALSC is a fiscally responsible division. What steps do you think it should take to remain so in order to fulfill the objectives of the Strategic Plan?

ALSC has a history of sound fiscal management.  At this time of ALA’s financial challenges, ALSC will continue to act responsibly and work within the budget established by the Executive Committee and Board, paying close attention to the bottom line, as libraries and schools do.  Priorities will be set so that major objectives of the strategic plan can be achieved through monies generated and grant funds available.  Current revenue streams are being evaluated, and new streams and grants will be explored.

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

Whether we are readers’ advisors, reference librarians, managers,  social workers, craftspeople, programmers, media mentors, outreach specialists, early literacy experts or privacy advocates, we all earn the name “Children’s Librarian” as we work to provide the best service we can for children and their families through our libraries. What we do makes a difference.

ALSC is the organization that gives librarians the tools, encouragement and knowledge we need to go forward as we continue to advocate for an inclusive and equitable environment for our members and, ultimately, the children we serve, while respecting their diversity.

I love my work as a children’s librarian.  I managed the Youth Services Department in a public library for more than 30 years working with children, teens and their families.  After that, I switched gears and began working in a small school library – where my mission continues to be to welcome and respect all children and give them a love of reading and to provide them with the information they seek.  Intellectual freedom is my passion and I work hard to defend the rights of children to information and privacy.  I had fun when I was named the NJLA Librarian of the Year and was sent around the state to talk about children and libraries.  I have had the privilege to work with many colleagues across the country during my service with ALSC and across the state during my tenure as the first children’s librarian to be elected President of New Jersey Library Association. I learned so much from the people with whom I worked and I continue to learn from the children and families I serve.

It is an exciting time. The library field is evolving, as is our professional organization.  ALA is in the midst of turbulent times while undergoing a transformation as it seeks to refresh conferences and involve more members.  Its current financial situation poses challenges for all divisions.  ALSC will take an active part of this transformation and will follow closely the financial situation while working to ensure the future of our division and make sure that the upcoming changes are beneficial to our members.

I am proud to be a part of ALSC.

Whoever you choose, make sure you vote!


The polls will open at 9 a.m. Central time on Monday, March 9 and will close on Wednesday, April 1 at 11:59 p.m. To be eligible to vote, individuals must be members in good standing as of January 31, 2020.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: Professionalism and Professional Development; Administrative and Management Skills.

2 comments

  1. Jan Connell

    As President, how would you guide the effort to protect library users from the coronavirus pandemic? I am shocked by ALSC’s lack of engagement in this issue.

  2. Carol K. Phillips

    ALSC, as a proponent of youth and the librarians who serve them, can promote the transmission of accurate information concerning the coronavirus and the sharing of solutions that libraries are choosing.

    Specific decisions can be made based on the most up-to-date recommendations of the CDC, and state and local conditions.

    I hope you have seen the ALSCBlog post of March 11: “ALSC is Thinking of You and Asking for Your Strategies in Coping with COVID-19.”

    I have found the postings on the Connect Discussion: “COVID-19 precautions in the Children’s Library”(https://connect.ala.org/alsc/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?MessageKey=f64ee103-a1b5-4234-bef9-8130d2ad0a19&CommunityKey=1ad935e8-5b97-4f31-83ac-aa456ed49707&tab=digestviewer#bmf64ee103-a1b5-4234-bef9-8130d2ad0a19) to be helpful, too.

    Our schools and public library closed today. A pandemic such as this is uncharted territory for most of us…

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