ALSC has several process committees and task forces that members have the opportunity to serve on. The Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee is shining a light on all of these groups to let membership know why these groups were formed, what they are doing now, and how our members can join or show support for the work each group is doing. This month, the co-chairs of The Library Services to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers Committee, Joe Prince of Bowling Green State University and Jaime Eastman of the Plano Public Library, were kind enough to respond to some questions about their committee’s work.
- Can you share a brief history of the committee?
Although established in 1964, the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee had, until recently, been tasked with administering Candlewick Press’ Light the Way Grant. This commitment required a lot of our time and focus, though we were able to provide resources through monthly blog posts on the ALSC Blog, host a Community Forum in 2018, and create a toolkit in 2015. In 2020, the Light the Way Grant was transferred to the Grants Administration Committee, and we were able to focus our collective energy on providing resources for our fellow librarians. In August of 2020, we rolled out our plans to deliver a new dynamic toolkit – one that could be adaptable and updated seamlessly, and could provide our members with current, meaningful resources.
- What is your committee’s charge?
Our charge, as outlined on the ALSC website, is as follows: To advocate for underserved children and their caregivers. To offer leadership in discovering, developing, and disseminating information about library materials, programs, and facilities for underserved children and their caregivers; to develop and maintain guideline for selection of useful and relevant materials; and to discuss, develop, and suggest ways in which library education programs can prepare librarians to serve these children and their caregivers.
- What are the expectations for members of your committee?
Committee members attend virtual meetings every other month. Each member must also spearhead or assist in the development of at least one toolkit page and the accompanying blog posts. Committee members are encouraged to solicit ideas for the committee to pursue, including proposals for webinars, and are equally encouraged, though not required, to participate in these learning engagements.
- What are some skills, experiences, or passions that would make an ALSC member an ideal candidate for your committee?
Any member who is passionate about serving children, particularly those in often overlooked populations, would be a great fit for the work that we do. We are looking for members who are passionate about the communities they serve, innovative in finding solutions, and determined to identify and address service disparities. Do you have a particular population that you would like to strongly advocate for? Are you interested in researching possible solutions, resources, and ideas? Do you like to share those ideas and innovations with others? All of those qualities will make you a good fit for this committee. We are hoping to form a collaborative community of fun, inspired leaders who help share their passions with ALSC and improve library services.
- Are there any projects you are excited to tell ALSC members about?
This year, our committee is creating a vibrant, dynamic toolkit with up-to-date resources for working with marginalized populations. Each toolkit page provides professional and leisure reading recommendations, support for programming, and materials for families. Our goal is to create a series of dynamic documents that will continue to grow and develop from our shared experiences. You can see the toolkit pages that we’ve released so far here.
- What is something ALSC members, who are not on your committee, can do to support your mission?
Keep sharing your experiences, ideas, and resources! We would love to hear from you about populations that you’d like to learn more about, so that we can focus our future toolkit pages. We’d also love to receive your recommendations, favorite resources, and inspiring programming and outreach endeavors related to our featured populations. Any ALSC member can help grow our resources simply by sharing the wonderful work that you do. Email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Is there any other information you’d like to share?
We are the most awesome committee and you should join us!
This blog addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and V. Outreach and Advocacy.
Melissa Sokol is a children’s services librarian for the Dayton Metro Library in Dayton, Ohio, and she is a member of ALSC’s Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee.