Hello! Manuela Aronofsky and Tina Bartholoma here. We’re the current co-chairs of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee. The ALSC C&T Committee is a virtual committee, so to stay connected and collaborate with members across time zones, we have adopted a handful of favorite digital tools. Today we will share what they are and how we use them for our committee work.
When we realized that our committee icebreakers and check-ins were taking up a large chunk of each monthly meeting, we decided to experiment with a written platform for checking in with one another. Using Padlet, an EdTech tool that is commonly used as a virtual message board, our committee adopted a new way of sharing personal and professional successes, growth, and challenges, or a “rose, bud, and thorn” each month. We can comment, or just acknowledge each other’s posts, without the sometimes awkward moment of virtual unmuting and interrupting. It also organically becomes a good activity for members to complete while the inevitable “logging onto Zoom” issues are worked out. As a bonus, we now have a visible archive of our committee’s personal and professional accomplishments throughout the term–we think this is a much more meaningful product than a verbal report!
Google Docs, Gmail, and Drive:
While professionals may take Google Docs and Gmail for granted, we find that the G-Suite platform still provides necessary tools for collaborating on virtual committee work. Together, we as co-chairs, build our monthly meeting agendas in Google Docs and then annotate the document during the meetings to create meeting minutes. Committee members join us on the document and can visually follow along as we work through the agenda.
As a committee, we collaborate and edit our monthly blog posts before publication and we revise, update, and build on our assigned projects; such as the Digital Media Resources Guide that our committee updates annually. All of our documents are easily organized and shared with current committee members in a shared Google Drive folder and the co-chairs can easily see who is shared on each document and remove or add committee members as needed. While we are currently working on migrating our file management system and primary committee communication to ALA Connect (more on that below!) we still use Gmail for one-to-one messaging, communicating with our PGC (Priority Group Consultant), small group email discussion, and inquiring about larger ALSC matters.
You are probably already familiar with Zoom video conferencing. We moved to Zoom for our monthly meetings when we learned that ALSC has a premium Zoom account, meaning we wouldn’t have to deal with the limitations of most free video conferencing accounts. We email our planned meeting time to the ALSC staff—a recurring meeting can also be requested—and the meeting link and sign-in details are e-mailed back to us, ready to be shared.
The PGC for our committee has recommended that we start using ALA Connect to send messages directed toward all current committee members and to store completed files. The discussion cross-posting feature allows us to invite all of our committee members to our monthly meeting and share an open meeting invite with all ALSC members with just one post. Because ALA Connect messages can only be sent to individuals or preset groups, Manuela and I still use Gmail when we are emailing each other, so that we can “cc” our PGC on all communications as per ALSC guidelines.
One of our committee projects this year is uploading all of our completed Google Docs and Sheets from the past two years to our ALA Connect online “library” space. It is not unusual to underestimate how long a digital archiving project like this can take, but by sharing the workload we expect a quick completion. As a newly appointed committee co-chair in 2021, Tina didn’t know where to access information about committee goals or projects prior to the time she joined as a member. She’s excited to give her successors an accessible place where they can review our committee’s recent history.
Slack is an instant messaging app with add-ons that allow the sharing of files and images. In 2020, before the worldwide adoption of video conferencing, the C&T committee meetings were held using free Slack accounts. There were pros and cons to holding IM-only meetings. On the pro side, even librarians “on the desk” could join in the meeting, being interrupted by a patron or student wasn’t a problem because you could scroll back through the chat messages to quickly catch up and then rejoin the conversation. The meeting minutes were easy–just copy and paste–and the meetings were often short, lasting only 30-45 minutes because a chat format encourages short, direct communication. On the con side, committee chairs couldn’t be sure who was in attendance and actively engaged unless that person was posting. It was also more difficult to get to know your colleagues without face-to-face communication.
These are a few tools used by the ALSC Children and Technology committee for virtual committee work. From mainstream digital tools to platforms inspired by our days spent innovating in virtual learning environments, we hope you found this post beneficial for your own digital needs!
Tina Bartholoma is the Community Engagement Senior Librarian/School Liaison for Salt Lake County Library. She’s worked in public libraries for 23 years. Before her current position, she spent 12 years as a youth services librarian.
Manuela Aronofsky is the Middle School Technology Integrator and Digital Essentials teacher at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her MLIS from Pratt Institute in December 2019. Contact info and more can be found at manuelaaronofsky.com.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: VI. Administrative and Management Skills and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development