ALSC Board

Meet Your ALSC Board: Robbin Friedman

Monthly, we will profile current ALSC Board members. We hope to offer information about the people who work to guide the organization so that you can feel more comfortable in reaching out to them with your concerns, questions, or comments. This month, we invite you to meet ALSC Board member, Robbin Friedman.

Photo taken by Mercy Garland

How did you first get involved with ALSC?

One of my library school professors (who remains one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders to this day), encouraged me to apply for the Bill Morris Seminar the next time ALSC offered it. When the opportunity arose almost two years later, I experienced, let’s say, assertive nudges from that professor as well as my first children’s department head to finish the application. During the training, I received valuable guidance on media discussion and practical advice about serving on a high-volume book committee in a cramped apartment (loft the bed!). I learned new things about myself as a reader and evaluator of books. And most importantly, I met the people who became my ALSC homebase. My Morris cohort has developed together and encouraged each other through committee appointments, Board terms, new jobs, and more.

How has participation in ALSC affected your career?

Being involved in ALSC committee work has provided me with opportunities to connect and collaborate with energetic colleagues around the country, which means I now have thought partners in library systems all over. Whether sharing successful programs, troubleshooting ideas that haven’t landed yet, or discussing ways to make meaningful changes in our workplaces, I’ve benefited so much from this community. And, while most of my library patrons will never know it, they have also benefited from the knowledge I gained at conferences, the fun plans inspired by another ALSC member’s library, the many ways the division has helped me become a better librarian. ALSC also offered me opportunities to serve as a leader and dive into organization-wide thinking before I had those chances in my own job. Those volunteer experiences through ALSC helped me discover new strengths and then advocate for myself in my own library.

What advice would you give to an ALSC member interested in exploring more leadership or governance roles?

This is my sworn duty as Fiscal Officer and also Christopher Biss-Brown, the chair of the Budget Committee, would give me cutting looks if I failed to say the following: Come to a budget meeting. Start with ALSC Budget meetings (maybe even join the committee!) and feel free to ask questions. Learn more about where the organization’s money comes from and where it goes. Discover our priorities through our paper trail. ALSC’s finances intersect with so many areas of our work, so it serves as a great overview of the programs and services the division offers. And once you’ve gotten the hang of the spreadsheets, you can join me at the ALA-wide budget meetings, like the Budget Analysis and Review Committee or the Planning and Budget Assembly, to learn more about how the whole Association operates.

What is your favorite ALSC memory?

I served on the 2019 Newbery Committee, which selected Merci Suárez Changes Gears as our award winner. During our early-morning phone calls from Seattle (blessedly less early-morning for people not on the west coast), we dialed Meg Medina. She didn’t answer. We tried again. She didn’t answer. We called our honor winners (shout out to Veera Hiranandani and Catherine Gilbert Murdock) and they laughed and/or cried and pulled their cars over so they wouldn’t crash. We tried Meg Medina again. She didn’t answer. And then in the middle of this ridiculous game of phone hide-and-seek, an employee of the convention center came into the room to refill the gas fireplace. But our winners hadn’t been announced yet! Everything was super secret! So we stayed silent and just watched him slowly pour two entire gallons of something into something else. It took so long. No fourteen people have ever watched this man work so intently. When he left, we were uproarious. Meg Medina answered shortly after and spoke poignantly about the power of representation and we mostly switched to happy tears. But I still laugh to this day wondering what nonsense that hotel employee imagined 14 people were undertaking in silence in that room at 6:00 on a Monday morning.

Robbin Friedman, ALSC Board Member for 2022-2025, is Head of Children’s Services in Chappaqua Library, NY.

Interested in standing for election to the ALSC Board? Find out more on the ALSC election information

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