Blogger Jonda C. McNair

Thanks for Allowing Me to Serve as Your President!

Dear Members,

I recall sitting in my office one day in April 2022 and receiving a phone call from ALSC Executive Director Alena Rivers, who told me that I had been elected ALSC vice president. I was excited, nervous, and surprised that people voted for me even though I am a former elementary school teacher and professor of literacy education, and now a professor of children’s literature. Although I have not worked as a librarian, I am determinedly committed to literacy and putting books in the hands of children, and over the years, I have had close relationships with many librarians who have supported me in my work. In particular, these librarians include Mrs. Suzy McCullough, who worked at my neighborhood public library in Macon, Georgia, for 30 years and has supported me in my path since my youth; and the late, dearly missed Mrs. Margaret Chew, a librarian at Alexander II Math/Science Magnet School in Macon, where I
taught for 5 years.

After I was elected, I wondered if I could really be able and effective enough to lead ALSC. Over the next year, could I learn to become a president of an organization with more than 3,000 members? Now, at this moment in early June, I can almost say that I have been able to do this. Later this month, at the end of the ALA Annual Conference in San Diego, California, I will complete my term as president and step into the role of immediate past president. It has been a privilege, an honor, and a huge challenge to lead and serve this organization. Many years ago, as an elementary school teacher who talked to my primary students during read-alouds about the award seals on picturebook covers and what the seals meant, even though I was not yet familiar with ALSC, never would I have thought that I would one day be president of the organization that oversees the most prestigious awards in children’s literature. I think of this sometimes during our business meetings when we discuss the award seals.

May felt like a whirlwind, as I have been busy planning for all that will take place at the annual conference. I crafted questions for the esteemed panelists who will participate in the ALSC Charlemae Hill Rollins President’s Program—I can’t wait to see Christopher Paul Curtis!—and I am still working on my PowerPoint for the Membership Meeting (please come!) and more. I also found the perfect dress and fascinator to wear at the Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet!

I wholeheartedly thank the many people who have supported me over the course of my presidency, especially Alena Rivers and ALSC staff members Ana Cackley, Laura Schulte-Cooper, Anne Michaud, and Sarah Polen. I will always think fondly of them for their dedication and hard work. ALSC is lucky to have them! I also thank the ALSC Board members, priority group consultants, my ALSC friends and colleagues, and former ALSC presidents. One former president, Mary Fellows, gave me some encouraging advice that I took to heart over the course of my term as president:

One concept I’ve come to value is the idea of choosing to “get a B” in some tasks or projects. Us achievers always want to do “A” work, and we can wear ourselves out making that our goal with every single project. Making a conscious choice to “get a B” or even a C (which is simply average!) in some tasks of being president is self-care. You can’t excel at everything, because there isn’t enough time for you to do that and sleep! Some things just need to be done, and excellence beyond average doesn’t add much value. And with some things you’ll simply have to acknowledge the need, feel a twinge of regret at not being able to resolve or make it better, and let it go. We can only do what we can do in the year that we have. It doesn’t all depend on us; others who come after us will continue the work.
(personal communication, September 14, 2023)

Some days I may have gotten an A and other days a C, but I hope that most days I at least got a B and was a competent leader. I did the very best I could, and I hope that was enough for all of you and for ALSC. I am excited to see what happens as Drs. Robert Bittner and Claudette McLinn continue this important work! ALSC members, I sincerely thank all of you for allowing me to serve as your president!

Jonda C. McNair
Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor of Children’s Literature, The Ohio State University
2023–2024 ALSC President
she/her/hers

6 comments

  1. Aryssa Damron

    Thank you for your service, Dr. McNair!

    1. Dr. Jonda C. McNair

      You’re welcome. It has been my pleasure. Thanks for your work on the Membership Committee. I look forward to seeing you soon! 🙂

  2. Kim Alberts

    It’s been a wonderful experience working with you!

    1. Dr. Jonda C. McNair

      Thank you so much, Kim. I have enjoyed working with you as well and I very much appreciate your hard work as a PGC! 🙂

  3. Robert Bittner

    Thank you, Jonda! You’ve been amazing! And have definitely been doing great work – B+ and above on all counts 😉

    1. Dr. Jonda C. McNair

      Thanks, Rob! I’ll that that B+. I’m meeting with my public speaking coach next week so I can do my best to earn an “A” at for my work as president at the Annual Conference–especially the Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet! 😉

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