ALSC Board

Meet Your ALSC Board: Ariana Sani Hussain

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, Ariana Sani Hussain.

(Photo courtesy of Ariana Sani Hussain)

How did you first get involved with ALSC?
Though my library school experience consisted of a substantial amount of children’s services related classes and fieldwork, I was unsure of where I ultimately wanted to be. Even after working in the public library in children’s services and being encouraged by colleagues, Ana Elisa de Campos Salles and Eboni Henry, to become more active in ALA as a 2014 Emerging Leader and in the NALCos, I pursued a non-ALSC related EL project. But after making this choice, I found myself pulled towards the work and conversations with the members of the ALSC Emerging Leaders group (including Soraya Silverman-Montano and Hanna Lee) and wanting to become involved in ALSC. I have been involved ever since.

How has participation in ALSC affected your career?
Getting involved in ALSC has greatly shaped my pathway of media evaluation. Though I had participated on two committees in other organizations prior, being on the 2017 and 2018 Notable Children’s Books Committee really honed my media evaluation skills and helped me build a critical lens for approaching works. Maeve Knoth, my chair of Notables at the time and current Priority Group Consultant, encouraged me to consider writing about my experience and continuing evaluation and since then I have been on several other book evaluation committees and co-founded and written for Hijabi Librarians. ALSC has also given me a community of passionate colleagues of children’s library professionals who are committed to equity and intersectional representation, who respect the dignity and agency of children, and who I turn to when I am struggling or need advice in all things related to the field.

What excites you about serving on the ALSC Board? OR What is something you’re looking forward to while serving on the ALSC Board?
As I will be stepping off the ALSC Board after this upcoming Annual Conference, I am surprised by how rewarding it has felt to be part of ALSC governance and be a part of making decisions, including some very difficult ones, that will shape how the association moves in the future. It has also been incredibly humbling. Many of these processes are incredibly incremental and require a great amount of work and attention to detail. Recognizing that I have been part of a chain of ALSC members (and our incredible ALSC staff) that have already been doing work on a particular issue brings me a strong sense of connection to our past leaders and to children’s librarianship on the whole. I am incredibly grateful to the membership for giving me the opportunity to serve on Board and I hope that I have represented their interests and our mission of being an inclusive and responsive organization during my tenure.

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

Through Emerging Leaders I have learned early on that there is space for all in ALA, even if it takes a bit of time to find your niche and home. We all have different roles to play in our organizations and leadership can take many forms. Being in governance may seem intimidating, difficult, or not a natural fit for your interests or skills — but we are all learning, growing, and trying to build a more equitable and inclusive organization that helps to shape best practices and advocacy for our members and the families and children that we serve. There is no perfect time to step up and try. Observe and ask, but if you find that you are not volunteering or taking the next step of chairing or governance, ask yourself what is stopping you. If you have looked into the scope of the committee, the work and time involved, and found you don’t have the capacity to do it, take care of yourself first. That’s always the most important thing. But if you suspect that it might be underlying imposter syndrome, know that many of us have it, and plenty
of members will be willing to give you that little nudge of encouragement to go forward on your
pathway. Your voice always matters.

What is an ALSC opportunity or resource that you wish more members knew about?
The ALSC Divisional website is a veritable wealth of information that I know that I need to more fully explore. We do so much and our archived materials (both in ALSC and ALA) are pretty interesting to dig through.

What is your favorite Youth Media Award-winning book?
I’m sure that for many of us this is a ridiculously difficult question. I am thrilled to see the recent selection of ALSC award-winning books and the multitude of literary appreciations and considerations that they add to the canon of children’s literature. It’s hard to choose just one. I loved Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca (but it was also selected by my Walter Awards committee, so perhaps I’m a bit biased and double-dipping here). My oldest son and I recently finished Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon trilogy of books, and he has asked to listen to them again on audiobook, so it’s safe to say that’s our current family favorite even though the latter isn’t Newbery eligible. Lastly, as a child I loved anything by Trina Schart Hyman, Swan Lake was the first book that my family ever sponsored in my elementary school library, and I definitely have copies of Little Red Riding Hood, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, and Saint George and the Dragon on my bookshelf. Shout out to Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw and Laurence Yep for their Pacific Grove representation and being our amazing local authors from my childhood.

Interested in standing for election to the ALSC Board? Find out more on the ALSC Election Information Page.

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