Questions 3 and 4 didn’t require tons of discussion, so I didn’t end up blogging them. You can see all of our answers on the ALA Think Tank Caucus for Council Facebook Page.
Question #5: What are 3 reasons people should vote for you?
1) I’m accessible – I’m easy to find online (and my phone number and work address are actually pretty easy to find, too), but even beyond that, I think I’m about as unintimidating as a person can get: I’m not famous; I’m not cool; I’m super informal in my blogging and other online presences; and I don’t, you know, get up in people’s proverbial faces (at least not often :)). I blog about my insecurities, I wear ugly shoes, I dye my hair funny colors, and I read cheesy fiction; I’m pretty un-scary. So it should be really easy for people to approach me with their thoughts and concerns. And if I’m on Council I’ll make it even easier by actively seeking input.
2) I am deeply invested in serving new librarians, library students, and paraprofessionals – I do a lot of work with the New Members Roundtable, including serving as Member Services Director (a board-level position that oversees four committees), and I have always considered it my home within ALA. NMRT has been so important to my development as a librarian that I petitioned my state library association to let me create a state-level New Members Roundtable, which I chair*.
I honestly don’t think ALA tells the full truth to prospective librarians (this is one of the fairly rare, but not entirely non-existent rants I alluded to, above—most people have heard it from someone, so I’ll skip it for now). I also don’t think Council works as hard as it should in supporting the interests of students and new librarians, in part because most Councilors are in a very different stage in their careers. The under-representation of new librarians needs to change for the association to survive, and I think it should change, since (1) there’s that dishonesty thing, which makes life hard for new librarians; and (2) association dues take a bigger chunk out of a newbie’s salary than they take from the salary of a librarian further in their career, even as the newbie is (currently) less well-represented.
Finally, I don’t think paraprofessionals are on most Councilors’ radars at all (most! there are exceptions!), which is really unfortunate; it’s the American Library Association, not the American Librarian Association, and inasmuch as it supports any of our interests (this is related to the rant above, by the way, but I’m not sure it does; I think it primarily supports the interests of our employers), it should support our colleagues without the MLIS every bit as much as it supports degreed librarians. That’s something I love about my state library association: we recognize that there are non-MLIS librarians running libraries in our state, and we include them and support them as colleagues. I guess this gets sticky in ALA, which accredits library schools, but just because it’s easy for the association to get around the problem by ignoring a large swath of our colleagues, that doesn’t make it right.
3) I’m a change-maker at heart, but I understand consensus/discussion and respect history – This sounds like waffling, I know. But it’s really easy to be that person who says “We should change everything!” Which means it’s really easy to be ignored and treated as naive and disrespectful, too. I’m not [entirely] naive, and I respect that there was a reason for every decision that was made in the past. And, although my intention is to represent newer librarians, I do not mean to discount the wisdom of experienced librarians, whose voices are valuable and must also be heard. While I don’t think “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is a good excuse, I do think, rather than ignoring the past entirely, it’s better to ask “Why did we start doing it that way?” That helps everyone get to the next point, where you can start discussing whether there’s a better way to move forward. I am really proud to say that I’ve pulled off a lot of changes in my library and several in my state library association, despite my relative newness. I’ve always made changes with an eye toward consensus, or at least toward letting all of the voices be heard; that approach has helped the changes be successful and has led to everyone having an easier time with whatever the next change to come down the pike might be.
*Any Alaskan librarians out there: I’ll totally help you if you want to chair AkLA-NMRT next year! I come with good past-chair-helping-the-current-chair references. ;)