For those of you who may be less familiar with ALSC’s internal committee structure, it may come as a surprise that, beyond award committees, it takes a lot to run the children’s division of ALA. ALSC relies on volunteers and ALSC leaders to develop research, make toolkits, provide professional development opportunities, award grants, plan conferences, recruit and retain membership–and write blog posts here!
And if you haven’t already noticed, many of the committees for the 2021 Fiscal Year are updated and newly imagined. I was fortunate enough to be present at Annual ‘19 and Midwinter ‘20 where I sat in on the Board meetings where these topics were discussed. My ALSC Committee–Advocacy and Legislation–was slated to merge with the Public Awareness Committee.
Altogether, there are a total of six priority groups that encompass a wide range of committees, including Public Awareness and Advocacy (PAA). PAA is part of the Advocacy group, along with committees like Early Family and Literacy or Intellectual Freedom, where the goal is to “identify, evaluate and make recommendations on issues…and services concerning children on the local, state and national levels.”
When I first joined ALSC, I volunteered for a process committee. Before that, I only really knew about the Youth Media Awards. But to lead a profession, you need a membership who is constantly informed and up-to-date with the latest trends and research. I was appointed to the Advocacy and Legislation committee, where I truly began to learn about what advocacy was. I wrote blog posts and magazine columns, met peers from across the country, and learned about the internal structure of ALSC. I sat in on membership meetings and learned about computational thinking and other topics of high importance to the profession. I met current board members and learned more about the value ALSC offers its members.
I also worked with the Advocacy and Legislation committee to collaborate with the Public Awareness committee on producing a webinar for their Championing Children’s Services Toolkit. Now, because our work overlaps so much, we are the new Public Awareness and Advocacy committee–our charge is to “promote awareness of the value of excellent library service for all children” to the greater public and to provide tools for library staff to do the same. This fits into ALSC’s 20-23 Strategic Plan, that outlines three levels of work – work to be done within ALSC, within the profession, and within the communities libraries serve.
I am excited for another year of spearheading and promoting conversations that help us all be better advocates for ALSC, children’s libraries, and children. And so I will end with a plug — have you considered volunteering next year to join an ALSC committee? I find I learn even more when I am not just reading the work, but helping produce it. In the meantime, stay tuned on all things PAA as we help you be a better children’s libraries advocate.
Today’s post was written by Erica Ruscio, a Young Adult Librarian at the Ventress Memorial Library in Marshfield, MA, and a co-chair of the Public Awareness and Advocacy committee.
This blog addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: V. Outreach and Advocacy & VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.