ALA Virtual Conference 2020

ALSC 101 (Virtual!) Recap

Every June, ALSC members gather on the Saturday night of ALA Annual to get to know one another, play games, win some prizes, and learn more about the Association. It is also an opportunity for prospective members to see what ALSC is about and to learn how to get involved. When the conference went virtual this year, ALSC 101 went virtual as well. Held on August 1st, Virtual ALSC 101 welcomed a panel of new and seasoned members, a trivia game, and breakout sessions. 

At the start of the event, guests were divided into breakout rooms for a virtual meet and greet. We got to learn where everyone was from, how long they were a member, and their dream vacation destination, recognizing that for many of us, vacations have been cancelled. Participants came from all time zones in the United States and from Canada!

After our breakout sessions, we were welcomed by Membership Committee Co-Chair Tanya Prax, and Membership and Marketing Specialist Elizabeth Serrano, for an ALSC and children’s literature trivia game. If you guessed that Jerry Craft’s New Kid was the first graphic novel to receive a Newbery Honor then you were wrong; it won the Newbery Medal! The honor went to El Deafo in 2015.

The panel session, themed Lifecycle of a Member, welcomed five ALSC members, at various stages of their ALSC membership, to discuss their membership journey, experiences, hopes, and expectations. The panelists included Tasha Nins, Sierra McKenzie, Anna Taylor, Katie Salo, and Mary Fellows, with Nins representing just a few months of membership and Fellows representing over 25 years. We discussed how and why they joined ALSC, the best experience they had as a member or what they hoped to gain from their membership, and why they thought someone should join ALSC or a professional association in general.

The conversation, among the five panelists, exhibited a wealth of experience and a wide array of opportunities those members have had. McKenzie, who was in the inaugural class of Equity Fellows, became active immediately and with just under two years of membership, has served on the Public Awareness Committee, EDI Task Force, and is currently co-chairing the School Aged Services Committee. The ALSC mentoring program, Emerging Leaders, and the Bill Morris Seminar were just a few opportunities that many of the panelists were eager to discuss.

Three of the five panelists have had the opportunity to serve on the Caldecott Committee either in the past or currently. While book evaluation is a special opportunity for any member to be a part of, many expressed that the relationships formed with their constituents aka “Caldecott Family,” was a gift in itself. Support, friendship, autonomy, exposure, networking, and professionalism were among the many benefits the panelists have gained from being a part of ALSC. As Fellows said, ALSC provides a way to be excellent in your profession, beyond your day job. A Q&A followed the formal discussion, and the panel was eager to give tips about applying for committees, joining various ALSC listservs, joining the mentoring program, and taking ALSC courses as a way to network. 

Virtual ALSC 101 ended after hearing from Mary Voors about the ALSC Blog. The blog, which was started in 2007, welcomes writers and interested members to get involved and make their contribution. There are nineteen regular bloggers that write one post a month. If you can’t commit to that many posts, there’s also guest blogging opportunities, blogging on behalf of a committee, and live blogging during conferences. For more information about blogging, reach out to Mary at

I encourage you to watch the recording of the event for more information, advice, and tips from all who participated. The recording of the event can be found on the member engagement page.

Jackie Quinn, member of the ALSC Membership Committee
Jackie Quinn

Jackie Quinn is serving her second year on ALSC’s  Membership Committee. She is a youth services librarian in Teaneck, New Jersey and a previous ALSC Emerging Leader. She is a new mama and enjoys sharing her favorite stories with her son! Contact her at Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC. 

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development

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