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What Does Your Volunteer Form Say About You?

As we kick off the ALSC year, and the school year, it’s time to fill out the all important volunteer form. Whether you’re looking forward to your third term on a process committee, aiming for an award committee appointment, or dipping your toes into ALSC waters for the first time, the volunteer committee form is an important place to begin. 

On August 24th, the ALSC Membership Committee held a virtual gathering focused on the volunteer form. We discussed what the form does, how it’s used by the appointing officer, and how you can use it as a way to market yourself for committee work. Past ALSC President, and former appointing officer, Lucia Gonzalez, joined us and shared her experience reading hundreds of volunteer forms. The event was a good reminder for long-term ALSC members to update their form and an encouragement for new members to start the process. 

As working people, we are given so many ways to “market” ourselves and declare who we are. It’s on our social media profiles, resumes, sometimes on our clothes, in the conversations we lead, the books we read, and the ways we choose to engage with our profession. The ALSC volunteer form is another way to talk about yourself. I encourage you to use it not just to regurgitate your resume or committee experience, but to talk about who you are in libraries, and who you want to be with and for ALSC. 

Why are you interested in a committee appointment?

Everyone’s experiences in serving children in libraries is different. How have your experiences shaped your interests, skills, and passion in libraries? Use your interest in a committee appointment not just as a chance to talk about what committee you are interested in, but tie that to your previous work or your goals for the future. On my first volunteer form, which I filled out at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I indicated that I was interested in committee work to supplement the professional development opportunities in my home library that had been put on hold due to shutdowns, closures, and delays. 

What excites you most about serving with ALSC?

No one looks forward to simply hopping on Zoom meetings anymore. So what is going to make you excited to click “join meeting” when it’s time? What things that ALSC has done in the past have piqued your interests? What skills and experiences have you had outside of ALSC that you are excited to bring to the table? What kind of people are you psyched to work with based on who you are as a team member?

Other Pertinent Information?

Don’t let that empty box scare you. No volunteer form can be comprehensive, and you are an interesting, unique person with diverse experiences. If you haven’t found a way to capture yourself through the other questions on the form, use this to show your personality! Highlight work outside of libraries that have impacted the way you work with kids. Bring it back to your favorite book, a great quote you heard once that inspires you, or perhaps even coursework you took in school that you still utilize to this day. There is no wrong way to fill out this question…except, perhaps, to leave it blank. 

The volunteer form is the best way for you to take a step into the ALSC world. Make sure that you’re putting YOUR best foot forward. Not the foot you think someone wants to see, but the one that’s walked a mile in your shoes. We can’t wait to see how you bring your light to ALSC! 

Aryssa Damron is a children’s librarian with the District of Columbia Public Library System, and the co-chair of the 2023-2024 ALSC Membership Committee. 

This blog post relates to ALSC Core Competencies of: VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.

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