- ALA Annual Conference 2022

Our Neverending Network to Serve Children through Libraries

This is my first ALSC Blog post as the 2022-2023 ALSC President, and I am so excited to kick off this year of sharing, collaboration, and communication with library folks serving youth! My library energy levels are freshly refilled after attending the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. It really “refills my cup,” so to speak, to see my place in an ongoing network of youth library folks–to see the people and work that have been here before me, the people entrenched in the work alongside me right now, and those coming up in the profession and keeping the cycle going. It is invigorating to see how wave after wave of youth-focused library workers work together, support one another, and keep the vision of better lives for all children at the center of our work, always striving to support the needs of our communities.

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At the conference, I was able to hear from many long-serving members of our profession and association–those with decades’ deep pools of knowledge and ongoing contributions. One was Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen, who not only accepted the ALSC Distinguished Service Award at the ALSC Membership Meeting, but who also shared accessible and customizable “Hatchlings” materials for a pre- and neonatal expansion of the early literacy program Mother Goose on the Loose, as part of a panel session with Maryland library folks piloting the program.

At that same Membership Meeting, I was able to briefly catch up with conference friends I hadn’t seen since January 2020 or before, and I was able to hear from one of my career contemporaries doing absolutely vital work to support families on their unique journeys healing from trauma: Megan Emery Schadlich, who developed The Healing Library with a team including a licensed clinical social worker, and who has made these resources openly available for any library.

And I heard from some of the newer and upcoming voices in our profession, including the team of four Emerging Leaders who worked on an ALSC-sponsored project exploring ways to engage student members. These library workers, although newer to the profession, bring so much energy, passion, and new perspective to our collective work, and it’s a privilege to support them in any ways we can.

So in this, my first blog post as president, I encourage you to think about your own place in this ongoing network, and to hopefully find energy and action in the knowledge that you’re part of something meaningful that spans many decades into the past and well into the future.

Take a moment to think about the people who have come before you in this work–your teachers, your mentors, that committee chair who recommended you for another opportunity, that person who you never spoke to but whose webinar changed the way you think about your work. Consider reaching out to those who helped pull you up in your career, if you can–let them know how their work has made yours possible. Think about how you can play a similar role for those newer than you in librarianship.

Think about the people doing this work with you, right now. Has it been a while since you checked in, even just to say hello? It really felt amazing at the conference to say these casual hellos again, but they need not be in person at a conference to be meaningful! Reach out to your cohort, whoever and wherever they may be.

And think about the people more junior to you in this work–the folks just starting their careers, or thinking about library school, or even some of your teen volunteers who just feel a comfort being in the library. Consider letting even just one of those folks in your sphere know that you’d love to support them on their continued journey.

Our profession is strong because of this neverending network of people taking on the work of serving children through libraries. It’s a privilege to be a part of this work, and I look forward to accompanying you over this next year as ALSC President.

3 comments

  1. Laura Partington

    Thank you for this inspiring post, Amy! And, thanks for sharing Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen’s MGOL Hatchlings materials that I am eagerly exploring. Thrilled that you are now at the ALSC helm!

  2. Carolyn Brodie

    Fabulous blog filled with looks backward and forward. I look forward to your year as ALSC President as our organization grows further with your leadership. Take care and best wishes.

    1. Amy Koester

      Carolyn, you’re one of the folks who made a significant difference in my career, specifically my diving entirely into ALSC! It’s just about 10 years since you were president and at the 2012 National Institute–my first one ever, in the second year of my career. Before that Institute, I pumped myself up to talk with people I didn’t know (outside my comfort zone!). I met so many fabulous folks who are still in my personal learning network, and I was surprised and honored to be appointed to an award committee by you. Thank YOU for your ongoing leadership and support of members at every stage of their career and ALSC service, myself included!

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