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 afternoon’s interview is with Lucia Gonzalez.
1. What do you consider the most important role of the ALSC President?
The most important role of the ALSC President is to lead, serve, and represent the organization and its membership with innovative vision and arduous dedication in support of ALSC work to provide excellent and inclusive library services and programs to all the children in all our communities.
2. What skills & strengths would you bring to the office?
As a children’s librarian at heart, I am a skillful communicator; I am a storyteller. As a library Director, I am an administrator, community leader, planner, and team builder. As an active member of ALSC, Past President of REFORMA: the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, longstanding Chair of its Children and Young Adult Services Committee, and founder of REFORMA’s Noche de Cuentos initiative, I am well-versed in national leadership. As a bilingual children’s author and storyteller, and as recipient of the Pura Belpré Honor Medal, the Americas Award Honor, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor, I have traveled the country to meet and work with children, families, teachers, and librarians of all backgrounds. The past 30 years have offered me tremendous opportunities to grow in the profession at all levels, and provided me with the expertise and experience to serve ALSC in the capacity of its highest elected officer.
3. What areas of personal/professional strength or weakness do you feel could be enhanced or improved through this ALSC leadership position?
ALSC provides the largest and most inclusive platform for the exchange of innovative ideas as well as for inspiring and unifying children’s library workers everywhere. Yet, there remains great untapped potential for growing this platform. There are vast disparities among libraries, and within children’s services, across the nation. There are municipal libraries in urban areas, rural libraries, library cooperatives, etc. that are continuously fighting to get the meager funding from their local governments that would allow them to just stay “alive.” As a result, there is a great nationwide gap in access to professional development and networking in youth services. Children’s library workers don’t always get the support needed to have access to ALSC wealth of knowledge and resources, because they lack funding to attend conferences and trainings. This is also true of larger and wealthier systems where the children and families in communities of color are served by paraprofessional staff without access to the greater resources. It my goal that ALSC reaches all children’s library workers in the process of empowering them with the skills needed to lead the services in their diverse communities from their diverse voices. Technology is our greatest ally to enhancing our platform and our reach. This is an exciting time, a time of re-envisioning and re-igniting our organization.
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?
All library workers serving families and children should be members of ALSC. It is our “mother” organization and is only as strong as its membership. Through our membership we learn from each other, we gain perspective and vision through networking and through sharing expertise and experiences. We benefit locally from ALSC national initiatives and advocacy efforts. We can advocate locally, because ALSC advocates nationally. New members benefit from all the available online resources, from learning about the best practices, joining the national conversation, and from volunteering opportunities to serve on committees and groups, many of them now working online. With libraries and the role of librarians continuously evolving, long-time members remain informed and up-to-date with best practices, new technologies, opportunities for leadership work, as well as opportunities to mentor the next generation of library leaders.
5. What are your ideas for reaching and involving members? What are your ideas to recruit new members?
Let’s go on an ALSC advocacy campaign! As I have done throughout my career, I will work to find ways to reach out to new populations, and to engage them as part of the ALSC family. This “outreach” effort would involve working together with the Ethnic Affiliates to reach their membership with the ALSC message as well as to promote the Affiliates’ work and message within the ALSC membership. Many library children’s workers that are active members of the Affiliates and/or their local chapters in their local communities might not consider joining ALSC due to a number of factors such as access to funding for joining ALA/ALSC, lack of support from their administrators, or due to other existing organizational or even cultural reasons that hinder our ability to engage their members. Now is the time to consider shifting our communication model to one that resembles the work of ground roots organizations and movements.
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?
This organization that is now ALSC, has a long history of reemerging with greater force and momentum after periods of trials and tribulations, both in the political or professional arenas, as well as within ALA. The source of ALSC’s organizational strength and its ability to transform while thriving in times of change is intrinsic to the unyielding commitment of its leaders and members to its core values, to “engage communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children.” ALSC resembles the trees of the tropics that are trimmed in preparation for the hurricane season and come back greener and stronger than before. It is by applying advances in technology that we will be able to survive the current climate while re-inventing the way we communicate and conduct the business of the organization. These times offer an opportunity to streamline and modernize internal processesso that ALSC can continue to fulfill its mission for years to come.
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?
Our mutual collaboration with the Joint Council for Librarians of Color, BCLA, and the Ethnic Affiliates (AILA, APALA, CALA, NALA, REFORMA) is key to achieving an effective, long-lasting commitment to diverse services to communities of color and the inclusion of librarians of color in leadership roles in the process. Also, I would like to see greater collaboration and focus on outreach to Schools of Library and Information Science programs across the country.
8. If elected, what topic would you like to highlight for either a preconference or the Charlemae Rollins President’s Program?
Storytelling has been at the heart of our practice and has provided the foundation for children’s librarianship, and I am a strong believer in the power of storytelling to unite communities. This is one topic that I would like to highlight: preserving and transmitting the cultural and literary inheritance of children in modern society through the application of new technologies in the art of storytelling.
9. What is your motivation in running for this position?
ALSC has nurtured me from the early years of my career, and it is a great professional and personal honor to stand as candidate for Vice President/President Elect of this organization. I am motivated by my love and passion for children’s librarianship, by the work of those who came before me, and most significantly by the teachings and example of my mentor in the profession, Dr. Henrietta Smith.
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?
After giving much thought to this question and examining the ALSC Strategic Plan, I feel that this is a topic that I will need to analyze thoroughly in order to gain the insightful knowledge of ALSC financial processes, sources of revenues and expenses, etc. that would allow me to make sound recommendations. ALSC’s portfolio is very diversified and the possibilities and opportunities are great. I am prepared to first listen and learn.
11. What else would you like the voting ALSC membership to know about you before they vote?
I will be a tireless worker and leader. I look forward to working with everyone as we move ALSC forward together!
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.