The 2016 ALA Elections started this week, and this year I’m running for Outreach Director of the New Members Roundtable. This is the first time I’ve ever run for an elected position in a professional association – it’s a little scary, now that the ballots are out! I’ve been involved in NMRT ever since I first joined ALA in 2012, and I’m really excited about the possibility of taking on this leadership role.
All of the candidates for NMRT Executive Board positions were asked to respond to a handful of questions. I’ve included my answers below, and everyone’s statements can be found here. If you’re in the ALA New Members Roundtable, I hope you will consider voting for me!
Question 1: Why are you interested in this position?
I didn’t join ALA until I was near the end of my LIS graduate program. When I finally did join, I didn’t know anything about ALA’s various divisions, sections, roundtables, and committees. Then I saw “New Members Roundtable” on the ALA website, and it was the only group I knew for sure was the right place for me at the time. In the past few years, I’ve learned a lot more about ALA and have become an active member of ACRL and LLAMA, but I found my first ALA home in the New Members Roundtable. I learned about professional association committees, gained experience as a committee member and chair, published an article in the Footnotes newsletter, and learned how to navigate large conferences – all thanks to NMRT.
In short, I’m interested in this position because NMRT made a huge difference for me as a student and new library professional. I want to help as many people as possible learn about the community and resources available to them through NMRT.
Question 2: What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?
My history of involvement within NMRT brings useful experience to this position. As first a member, and then chair, or the Handbook Committee, I became extremely familiar with the organizational structure of the roundtable, including functions and responsibilities of many committees and board member positions. I have also served on the President’s Program Committee, and am currently chair of the Student and Student Chapter Outreach Committee. Working with the Student and Student Chapter Outreach Committee has allowed me to learn a great deal about outreach to student members, and this experience would be directly beneficial in informing my role as Outreach Director, if elected.
Secondly, I have experience in outreach to campus communities through my current and previous librarian positions. As a Residency Librarian for Undergraduate Services at the University of Iowa, I initiated library outreach to International Student and Scholar Services, and connected students in Living Learning Communities to the library in various ways. In my current role at the University of Houston, I am involved in the Libraries’ outreach efforts with Residential Life and am in a leadership role for our Campus Engagement Committee, which promotes the library as a positive presence on campus.
So far, one of my main takeaways in terms of effective outreach is that while it’s important to have structures in place for efficient communication, you should also remain flexible and responsive to the needs of your audience. I feel that the skills and experiences I’ve gained through NMRT involvement and library outreach initiatives make me well-prepared to take on the position of Outreach Director for NMRT.
Question 3: As Outreach Director (more information), you will oversee several NMRT committees that focus on students. What value do you feel LIS students bring to NMRT?
I see the value that LIS students bring to NMRT all the time, as they participate in the online discussions and chats, share their insights and experiences in NMRT publications, generate exciting conversations in their ALA student chapters, and challenge NMRT to better serve the whole membership. NMRT’s mission is to help those who have been in the profession less than 10 years to become actively involved in the association and the profession. Naturally, LIS students would make up a significant portion of NMRT’s membership and contribute to the diverse community of the roundtable.
However, in considering my answer to this question, I also thought about a related question: “what value do LIS students bring to ALA?” Although I only graduated a few years ago myself, I see how current students have fresh perspectives and strong opinions that are crucial to moving the profession forward. I think NMRT is a perfect platform for highlighting the accomplishments and insights of LIS students, so that the value of LIS students can be brought to the attention of ALA and the profession as a whole.
Question 4: What do you hope to learn if elected?
The main thing I hope to learn if elected is how to improve NMRT services for current and potential members. Who are our members, and what do they need from their professional association? As Outreach Director, I would oversee the Student and Student Chapter Outreach Committee, and the Membership, Promotion, Diversity, and Recruitment Committee. These are two committees that have direct and constant contact with many LIS students and NMRT members. Information gained through these committees can be communicated to the NMRT executive board and used to inform the improvement of NMRT’s services and resources.
I also hope to learn from all of those whom I would collaborate with in this position – board members, committee chairs, NMRT members, and more. I think there is always something to learn from others, and in this position in particular, I hope I could continue to strengthen my facilitation and leadership skills. On a more individual level, I also think this would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about the various internal workings of ALA.
Question 5: If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?
I’ve definitely had my struggles with time management in the past – I’m sure many can relate! To help with this, I have found some time management strategies that work for me and help with balancing multiple responsibilities:
- Write things down. If I don’t write it down, it may not happen. Now that I’m aware of this, I am constantly making lists for myself.
- Done is better than good. As a detail-oriented perfectionist, I can get completely swallowed up in a project if I let myself. Sometimes you just need to get it done and move on to the next thing.
- Stay organized. Simple things can make a huge difference for communication and prioritization – like keeping your email organized and up-to-date, setting calendar reminders, and scheduling dedicated time to accomplish a task.
These skills may seem really simple, but I find that they make a big difference and help me stay on top of things. Knowing my own weaknesses and employing specific time-management strategies will ensure that my NMRT duties remain a priority. Additionally, I think that clear and effective communication will be a major contributing factor for success in this role – and that is something that is always a priority for me. I would be excited and honored to serve as the Outreach Director for NMRT, and I thank you for considering me for the position.