As I try to write my final blog post as a member of the Membership Committee, I have found myself reflecting quite a bit about my two years with this fun and engaging process committee. I recall getting my committee appointment from past president Cecilia McGowan and the excitement of being appointed to my first ALSC committee. I had been involved in ALSC as part of the Peer Mentoring Program in 2016 and served as an Emerging Leader in 2018 but committee work was different. I also had a vague understanding of what serving on Membership would be like and the reality far exceeded my expectations. Here of some highlights of skills I got to strengthen while being a part of this fantastic committee.
As part of the membership committee, we each write a few blog posts each year pertaining to Membership. Prior to my appointment, I had already discussed with my ALSC mentor my intention to start writing more. I loved writing in college and graduate school but found myself too busy in my library job to find the time to write anything more than our monthly newsletters. Having the opportunity to write for the ALSC Blog was perfect for getting back into an important habit. Writing and editing are also needed for the various projects that the committee initiates.
Sometimes the Membership Committee hosts events such as our annual member dinners on the first night of ALA Midwinter. The subcommittee responsible for this event works on marketing and logistics. For several of the events hosted by this committee, a volunteer will be in charge of designing flyers and other marketing materials for the event. Having this opportunity is very useful for librarians looking to expand their artistic skills. In previous library jobs I was fortunate to have an entire department dedicated to marketing but when I arrived at my current position I discovered that we did all of our own marketing. Having the opportunity to design flyers for ALSC only strengthened my design skills that I now use on a regular basis at work.
One of my favorite parts about serving on this process committee is our opportunities for collaboration. I have learned from experience that I work best in collaborative environments and the Membership Committee has had so many opportunities to collaborate together as a whole and in subcommittees. One of my favorite projects we have collaborated on is the Relief Renewals for BIPOC Members. The Friends of ALSC are funding the renewal of 50 ALSC and ALA memberships for BIPOC members experiencing any financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. It was incredibly uplifting and inspiring to see everyone in my membership cohort jump at the opportunity to help on this project. Some of us pitched in to work on marketing, while others worked on creating guidelines, application criteria, or brainstorming ways to make this opportunity most effective for our members.
As I have already mentioned, this committee hosts a number of events. I have been a part of ALSC 101, our annual Member Dinner, and our recent 2021 Midwinter Mixer. Planning something like our Member Dinners is a fun opportunity to explore a city before you’ve arrived. We get to look up restaurant reviews, and the location of our upcoming conference to find the best restaurants for our members to meet up in, work on reservations, and logistics. For our recent virtual events we were tasked with coming up with themes, guest speakers and panelists, and most importantly think about what our members needed during this difficult year and what would be useful, fun, and worth their time.
While some of these tasks may be familiar to many of us working in youth services such as event planning (hello, programming!) or designing our own marketing materials, less common is the opportunity to moderate a large scale event for our peers. My comfort zone is not to step into the spotlight and lead a conversation… I would prefer to be a cheerleader, rooting for my peers to do this. In fact, I fear public speaking more than most things but I know that it is an important part of growing as a professional and something I lacked experience in. Volunteering to moderate our virtual ALSC 101 left me petrified but ultimately I found a rush of excitement by the end of our event. I did it! It was scary, and sure my 5 month old baby was crying in the background but that’s life in a pandemic for you.
My ALSC journey has been incredibly rewarding so far and I am always mindful that I had a wonderful opportunity to be a mentee as part of the ALSC Mentoring Program. This first introduction to ALSC was my beginning and my ALSC Mentor, Mary Fellows, set the bar high for where I would aspire to land. Through her guidance and encouragement, I applied for opportunities I didn’t think I qualified for and learned how to use my voice in times when I felt silenced. As part of the ALSC Membership Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to help the ALSC Mentoring Program by serving on the ALSC Mentoring Working Group. For me, this is the type of opportunity that brings my experience with ALSC full circle. Because I feel so strongly about mentorship, it has been a great opportunity for me to take part of the program from a different angle!
While this is my last post as part of the Membership Committee, I am still remaining active in ALSC and currently serve on the 2022 Caldecott Committee. While serving on an awards committee will be vastly different from my experience on a process committee, I can’t think of a better way to have prepared myself. In the last two years, I stepped out of my comfort zone, tried new things, developed a network of incredibly hard working ALSC members, polished up on skills I hadn’t utilized in a long time, and became more confident in my role in ALSC, youth librarianship, and the journey ahead. Thank you ALSC Membership Committee!
Jackie Quinn is finishing up her second year on ALSC’s Membership Committee and serving on the 2022 Caldecott Committee. She is a youth services librarian in Teaneck, New Jersey and a previous ALSC Emerging Leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: VI. Administrative and Management Skills and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.