Career Exploration: A Balancing Act

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:51 pm by nmrtsecretary

By: Hannah Joy Chapman

In the career of librarianship, it is not unheard of to be stretched thin. I have found this to be true especially in the early stages of a career in which you are trying to grow and expand your experience. During the month of March, I posed the question of, when to say “no,” to the NMRT listserv community. The question also encompassed how to balance a desire to grow one’s career and therefore saying “yes” to opportunities as they arise while also maintaining a manageable workload and creating a cohesive resume or CV which will hopefully appeal to future employers. The discussion branched out in a couple of directions including volunteering, organization size and career stage.

Organizations and committees are always ready to take on additional volunteers. It is in the best interest of early career librarians to take advantage of these opportunities for growth, networking and giving back to the profession. But when do you decide to pull back a bit and start cherry picking opportunities and how do you decide which to keep doing? One respondent noted that she wanted to volunteer for everything shortly after she received her degree, but quickly found too much on her plate and a lack of general motivation ensued. Lately, she has been much more selective in her commitments, only serving on a few committees and volunteering for one organization for which she feels very passionately.

Volunteering in a finite capacity also arose from the discussion. One respondent referenced a a new graduate sharing a successful method. Only volunteer for limited time commitments and with relatively simple tasks, like to host a webinar or plan an event. Reflecting on this practice it would work well to get your name out there as a person who is willing to dedicate time and attention to projects but is not overly taxing on time. I also appreciate the idea of not starting another commitment until the prior one has passed. What a great way to learn about different organizations and truly find your fit before committing for a year(s) long term and discovering that it may not be for you.

ALA is very big and has a seemingly endless list of opportunities! Several of the respondents indicated that they had found their niche more easily within local or state organizations. If you work better in smaller groups or in face-to-face interactions versus via online contact, maybe state or local involvement would be a more meaningful fit. The respondent also brought up the difference in conference size preference, and particularly not knowing a strong personal preference until both a national and a local conference had been attended.

Career stage is another important thread that wove through the discussions. A couple discussion participants are still working on their training or plan to get the degree as a next step. These respondents brought a valuable viewpoint to the discussion. One had the chance to meet several credentialed librarians who were still working in temporary or interim positions. This led to thoughts about what other skills, in addition to librarianship, you might bring to the table.  Mentors helped guide her to consider whether she was more interested in the credential or a specialized skill set. This distinction between a credential and a specialized skill set struck a chord with me. I think both can be important, and some institutions place value on one or the other depending on the position for which you apply.

Early career librarians who aren’t yet in a fixed or long term position are in a unique stage of their career. They have the possibility to learn where they fit best within the profession, and thus branching out and casting a wide net is a good thing! As one respondent pointed out, finding where you don’t belong, is just as important as finding where you do. Many respondents reported attending trainings offered by institutions or branches that might lead you down a different path of librarianship. Additionally, if you are at a conference, go to at least one session that is completely outside of your current sector of the profession – you never know what you might find.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this question resonated with many on NMRT. It seems to be a common occurrence among early career librarians and professionals that cuts across all types of librarianship, as we all seek to innovate and share a general excitement about the work we do. It’s so important to find your niche though, that you should all get out there and explore as much as you can. Just remember to be conscious of time constraints and personal and professional goals as you continue to seek.

Responses and Experiences Shared:

  • There is perhaps a recognized tendency to get involved in too much, too quickly
  • Organizations and committees are always looking for new volunteers
  • Taking advantage of library system wide training sessions as they fit with your schedule
  • Coming to the MLIS degree later after experiences and trainings are under your belt can be a more focused approach toward finding your path post-MLIS degree
  • Volunteering for events or activities that are one time and not on-going is a good way to get your name out there and manage your time well, such as webinars or event planning
  • Find small volunteer opportunities that you really feel passionately about
  • Getting more involved with your state organizations
  • Branch out a lot early on, and focus later
  • It’s just as much about finding what you don’t want to do as it is finding what you do want
  • Is your interest based in a specialized skill set or a credential


Upcoming NMRT Online Program on March 29: Choose Your Own Adventure!: Networking While Introverting

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:59 am by nmrtsecretary

Join Adult Services Manager and introverted networking monster Rochelle Hartman as she shares tips for growing your professional network and seeking new opportunities in the face of sweaty palms, dry mouth, racing heart or any other issues that keep you feeling disconnected and your inner librarian superhero in the closet.

The online program will be held on Wednesday, March 29 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (time zone:  (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US and Canada). For more information please contact Brian McKnight, bmcknight@lacrosselibrary.org.

To join the meeting:



If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:

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February NMRT Discussion Summary: “Pitching Ideas to Your Supervisor”

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:25 pm by nmrtsecretary

By Elayna Turner

This discussion covered suggestions and experiences from participants for effectively pitching an idea to a supervisor. This discussion sought to get a variety of people from different library backgrounds to contribute. For those that are new to the profession, a discussion like this is a good place to start to explore the idea of pitching an idea that makes a change to their institution.

Some of the suggestions given included:

  • Take full responsibility for implementing the idea.
  • Look to pitch ideas that are new, fresh, or haven’t been tried before.
  • Make sure your idea is relevant to the mission of your institution.
  • Research your idea well, anticipate objections, and address possible objections in your pitch.
  • Know your audience and fine tune your presentation to appeal to them.
  • Get “buy-in” from coworkers and consider the question of “what’s in it for them?” when making a pitch.
  • Make sure your idea fills some sort of need.

One of the participants included a link to a presentation they had done on Millenials: Getting People to Buy What the Library is Pitching. This provided a unique viewpoint from the mindset of a younger generation and their ideas on generating successful outcomes for idea pitching.

All of the suggestions given were excellent things to consider when pitching ideas. Taking responsibility, considering relevancy, researching, and understanding your audience are all essential considerations to the idea pitching process.

Many of the participants were able to pitch some great ideas and make a difference in their institutions. Some of the successfully pitched ideas mentioned were:

  • De-Stress Fest during college finals
  • Creating an Instagram for the library
  • Departmental restructuring
  • Changing material discarding procedure

The departmental restructuring was the most intricate and bold of all of the examples cited, but it was a real testament to the power of pitching an idea well. A change like that is not something that is easily made and it requires significant buy-in from all levels of an organization.

The other examples presented of pitched ideas were seemingly small in comparison, but highlight that ideas of any level, great or small, need to be pitched well to become realized and implemented.

Overall, most of the people who participated and offered suggestions or cited experiences identified a need that their library had or found a way to tie it to the mission of their institution. These two things are certainly the basis for successfully pitching any idea.



Building Your Librarianship Portfolio: Embracing What Pops Up Along Your Career Path

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 am by nmrtsecretary

A colleague and I were sharing our career path histories. Although we obtained our MLS degrees in the same year, our career paths have had different trajectories. Like my colleague, many librarians work their entire professional life within one type of library. I have worked in different types of libraries – public, corporate and academic – which results in becoming a “new” librarian with each career choice I made.

I work in an architecture library where I’m surrounded by construction terminology, and I realized that building a professional portfolio is like constructing a multi-story building. Both projects require a solid foundation to support the structure as each additional story is added. It’s taken decades to construct my multi-story, career and it’s still not finished.

My first job was working in the children’s department at a suburban public library. Shelving returned books was one of my routine duties, and many of the items were pop-up picture books. When you open a pop-up book, a cleverly constructed three-dimensional object springs off the page.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that library job would provide the foundation for building my professional portfolio by providing experience with customer service, circulation activities, copy cataloging, children’s storytime and answering basic reference questions.

My manager remarked that I had a natural curiosity and commitment to customer service so I should consider becoming a librarian. I was horrified at her suggestion! Why would anyone want to be a librarian? Certainly, not me, I wanted to be an investigative journalist writing articles for national publication.

My former manager’s assessment was correct, and I now had an MLS.

I moved to a metropolitan public library system. As an assistant branch manager, I was still conducting storytimes, answering reference questions and developing collections but I was also supervising staff and responsible for a facility. My position helped construct the next level of my portfolio by providing supervisory, budgeting, management, and community relations experience.

My career path took an unplanned detour away from public libraries, and I jumped into a corporate library environment directing an engineering design firm library.

The core librarianship competencies I honed while working in the public library helped prepare me for a vastly different environment grounded in science and design.  Acquisitions, cataloging, circulation and reference were all components I could quickly complete which provided time to focus on building an unfamiliar subject expertise.

Delving into new subject content can be overwhelming but builds the next layer of knowledge to diversify my portfolio. The pop-up books that were always a familiar sight were replaced with 3D architectural models which I jokingly referred to as pop-ups for adults.

If you successfully hone your skills and expand your subject knowledge, you will find yourself seamlessly embedded within your user groups to the point when they often forget you don’t share the same college degree.  My corporate librarianship shifted from answering reference inquiries to providing research services. I enjoyed collaborating with staff to provide literature reviews, market research and other tasks associated with conference presentations and publishing.

This experience helped to create another layer within my portfolio by providing in-depth subject expertise in civil engineering, architecture, and planning. This leadership position tossed in the skills of strategic planning, creating vision and serving as a change agent.

My current position as an academic librarian utilizes my public librarianship and management skills and blends in my subject expertise and research skills acquired from my corporate library job. Navigating the unfamiliar, new world of being tenure track is the next story in constructing my professional portfolio.

To gain familiarity with my new environment and responsibilities, I spent time sorting through files and collections. In a locked storage room, I discovered two books that appeared to be different from the other books on the shelf. I flipped open the books and immediately started laughing.

Much to my delight, the books contained elaborate three-dimensional paper models of architectural buildings – pop-ups! Both pop-up books sit prominently on my library office shelves.

We may tend to think that only recent MLIS graduate are “new” because they are new to the field, but there are plenty of opportunities to be “new” throughout your librarianship career. It’s been a quarter of a century since I earned an MLS degree, but I’m one of the “newest” academic librarians at my institution. The pop-up books are a visual reminder of my 35-year journey through various library environments that transformed a book-shelving teenager into an academic librarian who writes articles for national publication.


Tina P. Franks has 25 years of experience as a professional librarian and offers a unique perspective to working in public, corporate and academic libraries.  Her research areas include librarian mobility and customer service models, including using techniques from corporate America in libraries to build customer trust, build professional success, and create library sustainability.





NMRT 2017-2018 Candidates: Secretary

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:25 pm by nmrtsecretary

ALA elections are here and this year NMRT is electing a Leadership Development Director, Vice-President/President-Elect, and Secretary. Below, our candidates answer a few questions about their plans for the position.

Why are you interested in this position?

Melanie Kowalski: For the past five years, I have served on and chaired several NMRT Committees. While serving as chair of the Resume Review Service Committee, the Professional Development Grant Committee, and the Communications Committee (formerly the Footnotes Committee), I had the opportunity to directly engage with NMRT Board members, including the NMRT Secretary, and to develop a stronger understanding of the structure of NMRT and the work of the Board in leading the NMRT community. As NMRT Secretary, I would continue the tradition of leadership and engagement with the NMRT community. Additionally, I would focus on developing a communication strategy that fosters deeper engagement for members, both within NMRT and the wider ALA community.

Christina Rodrigues: I would like to be secretary of NMRT because I want to be involved in this round table on a more in depth level. I want to help guide its future. I believe in the goals of this group and feel very passionate about connecting new members to ALA and to the resources they need. From my own experience I understand how valuable NMRT is.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Melanie Kowalski: My previous professional service experience makes me uniquely suited to the NMRT Secretary role. As the current Communications Committee Chair, I have a strong understanding of the role of the NMRT Blog, NMRT Notes, as a crucial element of member outreach and engagement. Also, I previously served as the Social Media & Education Chair for the Atlanta Emerging Librarians (AEL) Planning Committee, a position that allowed me to engage with the AEL community through social media.

As the Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian at Emory University, I am responsible for creating and maintaining web resources for my department. For this role, I cultivated skills in content development, content strategy, and content management. I have experience working with a variety of content management systems, including WordPress, Drupal, and Cascade.

Christina Rodrigues: I am currently managing many communications and engagement strategies in my current role in OCLC Member Relations. I am highly organized and used to working with many individuals with different working styles. My responsibilities include meeting planning, programming and agendas, logistics, budgets, and social media and outreach. I am also the founder and chair of a new professionals group at OCLC and feel this experience will significantly help me in this role.

As Secretary (more information) your responsibilities include coordinating NMRT social networking presence on the appropriate tools. What do you feel is the best method to get information to the NMRT membership, and why? What is your plan for coordinating NMRT’s social networking presence?

Melanie Kowalski: I believe the most appropriate communication strategy for NMRT is a multi-tool approach. Each member has his/her own preference for how to receive professional communication. I believe that a successful communication plan must address the unique preferences of the membership by distributing content via multiple communications platforms. By utilizing email, blogs, and social media strategically, we have an opportunity to reach our membership in their preferred environment, leading to deeper engagement and discussion.

To that end, if elected NMRT Secretary, I would implement a comprehensive social media management (SSM) tool, like Hootsuite or Buffer, to strategically schedule posts across social media platforms. However, social media is not the only way to communicate with our members. I would also coordinate blog posts and emails to the NMRT listserv to run in coordination with these social media posts. Finally, I would develop a schedule for social media engagement, posting discussion questions to NMRT social media accounts consistently and actively engaging with membership in these discussions.

Christina Rodrigues: I believe that more is less. I have learned through experience not to spread your communications or the staff in charge of them too thin. You lose quality in the messaging and you end up duplicating your efforts. I think the best method to get information out can change just as often as technology does and should always be evaluated. I trust the list-serv is still a very popular option as most people use it for their current jobs. LinkedIn and Facebook groups are great for communicating information and events and facilitating connections and dialog among members. Instagram is also a great medium for showing fun and unique photos of a group. I also feel strongly about having a central place to point people when they want to learn more about a group or organization. I believe ALA has some structure to their site but what I often see is out of date information or none at all. I think this could be improved as well.

What do you hope to learn if elected?

Melanie Kowalski: If elected NMRT Secretary, I am primarily interested in learning more about the NMRT membership’s needs and how the Executive Board can meet those needs. What are they seeking from NMRT? What is the best method for us to deliver their desired programming or resources? What kind of connections can we make for our members with other organizations in ALA? Or with other library organizations? Where does collaboration make the most sense? As Secretary, I would utilize our communication platforms to highlight the successes and achievements of our individual members and committees and foster new relationships with ALA at large for our members.

Christina Rodrigues: I hope to learn how groups within ALA conduct business and help further the mission of ALA. I want to learn how successful meetings are conducted and how to help new members to ALA and NMRT make connections and grow in their careers.

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

Melanie Kowalski: For time management, I am a big believer in using the tools and methods that make the most sense for you. As a result, I have developed a personal strategy, employing tools like Trello and Toggl, to prioritize competing interests and ensure work is completed in a timely and efficient manner. I maintain a master to-do list, in which tasks are prioritized and given a due date. To prioritize tasks, I consider both urgency and importance. For important tasks that are not urgent, I dedicate time each week to completing them so that they do not escape my attention. This strategy will allow me to address my duties on the NMRT Board in a timely manner.

Christina Rodrigues: I am very organized and a hard worker. I am passionate about the goals and mission of NMRT. I believe in setting deadlines and sticking to them and that working as team is so important to being successful in any endeavor.


NMRT 2017-2018 Candidates: Vice President/President-Elect

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:23 pm by nmrtsecretary

ALA elections are here and this year NMRT is electing a Leadership Development Director, Vice-President/President-Elect, and Secretary. Below, our candidates answer a few questions about their plans for the position.

Why are you interested in this position?

Nicole LaMoreaux: The New Members Round Table (NMRT) has allowed me to find my place within the American Library Association (ALA) and has provided me so many opportunities since becoming a member. To be given the opportunity to give back by becoming the Vice President/President-Elect would be an honor. If elected, I hope to inspire new librarians and library paraprofessionals to find their place within ALA and encourage them to become an active member and leader in NMRT.

Nicole Spoor: Since I first became active in ALA, NMRT has been the “place” that I call home.  NMRT has helped me become a better librarian and get involved in our professional community through professional development opportunities and the chance to take on leadership roles early in my career. I am interested in the Vice-President/President-Elect position, because I see the need for an organization that supports people early in their career and I know that NMRT does this well. I plan to use my time as Vice-President/President-Elect to promote NMRT among new librarians and more experienced librarians who might have never seen the benefit of being involved in a professional organization.

Amy Steinbauer: I love being a librarian, and I want to help others get involved in what I view, as the best profession! When I was a graduate student, I was involved in numerous organizations—President of our student chapter of ALA, Vice President of Hui Dui (our social organization), and Captain of our Web Team. Those experiences taught me what could be accomplished when passionate people came on board to help, but when graduation loomed, I feared that I would lose that momentum. At the time, I reached out to one of my peers about how we could get career ready for our impending graduation—and she said we had to join NMRT, and that’s how we would learn how to flourish in the library world. Her advice really stuck with me, and once I could afford to join the professional organizations—

I made it my top priority to get involved with NMRT.

NMRT is also responsible for connecting me with my first mentor! Going to ALA Annual is probably the highlight of my year, but it took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to attend. I was so nervous that I would stick out like a sore thumb—which led me to sign up for a NMRT Conference Mentor! I really lucked out with a conference superstar who patiently sat with me and worked out my scheduler and introduced me to amazing children’s library people. At that moment- she confirmed that I was in the exact right place in my life, and I was so pumped for the day that I could start giving back.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Nicole LaMoreaux: I have been an active member of NMRT since joining the round table in 2011. I am currently the NMRT Secretary. I have also either been a committee member or chair of the following committees: NMRT Midwinter Social Committee, Student Chapter of the Year Award Committee, Student Reception Committee, LLAMA/NMRT Joint Committee on Collaboration, and the NMRT Awards Committee (now known as the NMRT Annual Social Committee). I believe that these experiences will allow me to put what I have learned back into the round table and hopefully inspire others to move into leadership positions within the organization. I am currently the Assistant Director of Research and Instructional Services at The New School and before this position; I was the Reference and Instruction Librarian at LIM College where I was the organizer of a three-day conference in New York City. These two positions have allowed me to expand my leadership and project management skills. I think these experiences will be the key to being a successful Vice President/President-Elect for NMRT.

Nicole Spoor: When I joined NMRT worked on committees for about four years, chairing both the Orientations Committee and the Resume Review Service Committee. I am currently serving a two-year term on the NMRT Board as the Leadership Development Director overseeing five committees charged with providing leadership and professional development opportunities. It is important for the Vice-President/President-Elect to be visible and communicative in order to help keep NMRT functioning effectively. My organizational skills and willingness to be available to support NMRT make me a great candidate for this position.

Amy Steinbauer: As mentioned earlier, I love contributing to the professional organizations for librarians and library workers. Previously, I have served on the NMRT committee—Student Chapter and Student Outreach, which was really rewarding for me because I had the opportunity to get close to current LIS students and help them with the transition to working professionals. I have served as a Board Member at Large for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) for the last two years. Currently, I am on the Public Awareness committee for ALA.

I tend to get involved in lots of organizations—because my interests in librarianship really vary. I love outreach, early literacy, and helping new librarians connect. My passions help me to really get to know lots about different areas within ALA—and I can take that all back to NMRT.

Previously, I also volunteered for the site, INALJ.com finding and formatting jobs daily, and writing articles about how the job search process for library workers.

In 2015, I was awarded the Conable Freedom to Read Foundation Scholarship and Award to attend ALA Annual, which celebrated my work in providing equal and free access to all types of readers. It In 2016, I was selected to be a member of the California Library Leadership Institute where I was taught hands on leadership techniques to employ in real-life library situations.

As Vice-President/President-Elect (more information) one of your responsibilities will be preparing for your Presidential term the following year. How will you work with the current President to advance her/his initiatives while planning for your own presidency?

Nicole LaMoreaux: I am of the mind that learning by doing and assisting is best. I believe that while assisting the President to accomplish her own initiatives, I can use this time to learn from her. I think that this will not only allow me to be a better Vice President/President-Elect, but to better prepare my successor when the time comes.

Nicole Spoor: I think that communication is key. I would make sure that I am always on the same page as the president and would look for ways to help them advance their initiatives. I would also make sure to keep the lines of communication open between myself and other board members so that I could support the needs of all NMRT constituents when planning my own presidency.

Amy Steinbauer: I love the idea of working with the current President to merge elements of their vision with mine—I enjoy meeting of the minds moments that committee work brings to core ideas. I would love the opportunity to see what has worked and what needs improvement through the eyes of someone else who has just successfully gone through this. I like to think of each person I meet in this field as a potential mentor—like we are always helping each other out—so, this would only help me more. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel every year—we can instead build on what works and scaffold the achievements for all.

What do you hope to learn if elected?

Nicole LaMoreaux: I have had the opportunity to work within NMRT in different capacities, but I believe that if elected this would allow me to learn how everything fits together so seamlessly. I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue on this legacy of our past Vice President/President-Elects and Presidents. I also hope to build my long-distance leadership skills. I believe that I will be able to expand these skills quite a bit through this role.

Nicole Spoor: If elected I hope to learn more about how NMRT functions within ALA. By learning more about how NMRT functions within ALA, I hope to find new opportunities for collaborations that will support ALA and NMRT members.

Amy Steinbauer: In a simple way—I hope to learn more. I am always learning more… and I look forward to learn HOW to make NMRT work better for all it’s members and potential members. I spend a lot of time thinking about what the career process is like for early librarians—it is hard out there—the job search is a horrible process—but there is hope, and I want to be there with NMRT along the road for support and reassurance!

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

Nicole LaMoreaux: I find that if I block a set amount of time to work on a specific role that I am able to successfully accomplish what is required of me in that position. I believe that if I implement this method that I can make sure that my NMRT duties remain a priority and are completed with thought and care. I also think it will be vital to maintain bi-weekly or monthly meetings with the President so that we can stay abreast of everything that each of us are working on for the round table.

Nicole Spoor: I have the good fortune to work at an institution that not only expects and supports my participation in professional organizations like NMRT, but also provides ample time for me to be fully involved. Because of this, I know that it will be easy for me to balance my job duties and my role as Vice-President/President-Elect.

Amy Steinbauer: Being involved in so many professional development organizations had afforded me the benefits of learning time management skills! My work is very supportive of my connections to professional development opportunities, and would be able and willing to work with me to best support the duties of this position.

I am the type of person that loves to juggle a lot of work. I think about work all the time—in what I hope is not an extremely workaholic way– and just more of in an extremely excited way! I can’t stop thinking of fun new ideas to file away for maybes and one-days… and to you—that would mean that I have boundless energy for this stuff.

I like to both start and end my day with a to do list. In the beginning of my day, it helps me focus on my priorities. At the end of the day, it helps me condense my accomplishments and also set an intention for the next day. This strategy has enabled me to push myself hard, but also stay in check with the limits of a day.

In addition, I am active on social media, and in general love discussing libraries, advocacy, and ways to help others in the field. I want to make myself as available to the members as possible.  Ideally, any member should feel like they are able to reach out to me with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say hi! ?

NMRT 2017-2018 Candidates: Leadership Development Director

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:22 pm by nmrtsecretary

ALA elections are here and this year NMRT is electing a Leadership Development Director, Vice-President/President-Elect, and Secretary. Below, our candidates answer a few questions about their plans for the position.

Why are you interested in this position?

Holly Kouns: The position of Leadership Development Director gives me the opportunity to partner and lead with others to provide experiences that could be paramount to someone’s career goals, which is something that really excites me. I enjoy helping others reach their metric of success and knowing I could contribute an experience or opportunity that was positive, in any way, is why I’m interested.

Leigh Milligan: I have been a member of NMRT for the last three years as a committee member and a committee chair of the Online Discussion Forum. I feel this is the next logical step for me for advancing my involvement and leadership in NMRT. I want to expand my professional network by making conference attendance a priority and being able to attend the NMRT Executive Board Meetings.

Veronica Milliner: In general, I enjoy committee work and, with my involvement in ALA, I’ve had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with others across the country. This has allowed me to expand my personal knowledge and professional development. I’m interested in the Leadership Development Director position because I view it as an opportunity to help other NMRT members receive this same fulfilling experience, to celebrate their professional accomplishments, and to provide leadership development opportunities. It is important for the round table, ALA, and our field as a whole to continue to recognize and support innovation, interesting ideas, and hard work. I’m interested in this position because I feel it is important to provide opportunities for members to share skills and tactics that they can use in their own positions. As a result, I hope to support leaders in NMRT in order for them to act in the future as mentors, collaborators, and inspiration to fellow colleagues in the roundtable.

Madison Sullivan: I’m passionate about supporting library and information science (LIS) students, early career librarians, and new professionals as we all find our way in this field. I think it’s important that we support new ALA members in navigating our complex organization, and that we use positions like these to amplify new voices. I see NMRT as a place where this happens, and can continue to happen. Simply, I want to help!

As the Leadership Development Director for the New Members Round Table (NMRT), I’ll be a part of a team that provides tangible benefits and opportunities for those new to the organization who want to become more involved. I believe that NMRT is one of the organizations within ALA that is striving to break down barriers to entry in our organization. I want to see more LIS students involved in ALA leadership. I want to see more people of color involved. I want to hear more from new and diverse voices about library leadership. This position is one way I can personally work toward these shared goals.

Because ALA is such a large organization, it can be intimidating. I want to help anyone who is interested in professional leadership find their way in ALA and within our field. At the same time, I’m still learning! As a new librarian, I’m excited that this position will allow me to become further involved in NMRT and ALA, and help others do the same.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Holly Kouns: I am currently the Assistant Department Head of User Engagement and Services at the University of Texas at Arlington. In my role, I’m responsible for the management and leadership of a large public services department. A big piece of my job is providing professional development for my staff and student employees. I  regularly meet with staff to establish goals and metrics of success, while helping them provide the same development for our student employees.  I’m skilled at managing variables and arranging them to be the most productive, as well as helping people achieve milestones to reach their ultimate goals. My goal is to walk alongside my staff members to guide and build on to the work they’re doing and I see the same with this position

Leigh Milligan: While I am involved in ALA NMRT, I am also involved in some committees with Special Library Association’s Philadelphia Chapter. I am going on my second year as the Hospitality and Events Coordinator where I meet and greet current and new members of the association and help them feel welcome. I feel that skill of making others feel welcome is definitely important skill for a leadership director, making new NMRT members feel welcome and a part of our huge roundtable.

With that same position, I am also expected to attend and contribute to the board meetings, which I am looking forward to doing as leadership development director if elected.

I am also involved in the programming committee with SLA Philadelphia, where I have achieved time management, budgeting and project management skills. I have also been a volunteer librarian as medical librarian in Philadelphia where I have experience-managing volunteers, collection development and grant proposal experience.

Veronica Milliner: Through NMRT, I have found a space to feel motivated and to pursue a role in improving ALA. My involvement in NMRT includes serving on the Membership Promotion, Diversity & Recruitment Committee, President’s Program Committee, and Orientation Committee. For the 2016-2017 cycle I’m also a Co-Chair of the Orientation Committee which plans and conducts sessions at Midwinter and Annual aimed to inform and engage participants regarding NMRT opportunities and the conferences as a whole.

Additional library association involvement outside of NMRT includes being a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee within the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a member of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT). This year I’m also one of the track organizers for the Radical Libraries, Archives, and Museums track at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit.

I’m currently working as an Outreach Librarian for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The passion of my work focuses on exploring the role of the library as a community asset and library programs and services that improve lives in these communities, with a focus on marginalized and vulnerable populations. I hope to use my skills forming partnerships and organizing/implementing programs and services to this NMRT position as well.

Madison Sullivan: I love working with the people I’m serving to create impactful experiences and opportunities to connect, learn, and engage with our profession. I’m someone who strives to bring multiple voices and perspectives to the table in any endeavor. As an early career librarian, I can understand how intimidating and confusing ALA can be. I understand that participation in your professional organization can be met with barriers. I understand that the ability to participate in your professional organization is correlated to varying degrees of privilege. I hope to listen and to work with you to figure out how we can make participation more accessible to all who want to contribute.

I have been a member of ALA, ACRL, and NMRT since 2013. I currently serve on several ACRL committees, and I was named a 2016 ALA Emerging Leader. These experiences have helped me contribute to the organization in a variety of ways – from conference program planning, to communications and publicity, to building a resource for library publishing services.

While in library school, I was an officer for the University of Illinois ALA Student Chapter from 2013-2015. I was also a member of our SLA and SAA student chapters. In these three roles, I organized and led many professional development and networking events over two years.

Professionally, my work in librarianship has included outreach to undergraduate programs. I work to facilitate learning and professional development opportunities with the populations I serve through building relationships with career services, student affairs, and other campus groups.

As Leadership Development Director (more information) you will oversee the activities of committees that support & encourage professional leadership in NMRT members.  What do you believe are three biggest challenges that new librarians face when taking on a leadership role, and why? How will you work to develop leadership skills of NMRT members?

Holly Kouns: In my experience the three biggest challenges are 1. Knowing where to start, 2. Finding  professional development opportunities 3. How to prioritize

I’m learning that few librarians intentionally decide on a leadership and management track, but many find themselves in a position to provide both of these. Regardless of the track you intentionally choose, development plays a huge role in learning and becoming the best leader you can. One of the first issues I think most of us run into is where to start? There is a learning curve with every new position or responsibility, but more so in those requiring leadership of others and it can be overwhelming when you feel unprepared. This is where professional development comes into play. It is difficult when you’re starting out to identify proper outlets for professional development. These types of opportunities are not always built into your organization and if they are, they can’t satisfy every need. In addition to undertaking your own development, you’re oftentimes responsible for the development of others. Learning how to prioritize is key in these types of situations, but can be a hard balance to learn with failures being part of it.  As a new librarian and a new manager, I understand these challenges on a personal and daily basis. I want to develop opportunities that will be engaging and available to everyone. Through webinars, grants, listservs, blogs, etc. I want to develop opportunities that address these issues that will be engaging and accessible to NMRT members.

Leigh Milligan:

  1. Communication- Communication is key to any leadership role. If communication is not there, others will not know what is expected of them.
  2. Time Management- Time Management is always tough especially if you are unsure of the tasks you are taking on and the time it will take to complete said tasks.
  3. Follow-Through-It’s so easy to take on a leadership role because it will develop you as a professional and will look great on your resume. However, it will not look so great if you do not follow-through, and a lot of leaders struggle with this especially if communication and time management are not there.

As Leadership Development Director, I will develop skills of NMRT members by keeping open communication. I want members to be able to come with me with their ideas and have their voices heard. It’s important to have your voice heard in such a large association and I will make that a priority. I will also make sure that the chairs I am assigned to oversee keep to their assigned tasks and deadlines. I would also like to offer advice on how NMRT members can manage their time best, because once achieved, time management is a great skill to have as a leader and it makes team work smooth.

Veronica Milliner: The three biggest challenges that new librarians face when taking on leadership roles are:

  1. Not being heard, Not having experience acknowledged – New librarians are sometimes ignored when they are in a leadership position. No matter what their experience is, new librarians may be viewed as not knowledgeable or too inexperienced and therefore their input is not taken into consideration. This can be amplified if new librarians do not have enough support, feel like they are experiencing microaggressions in the workplace, are continuously questioned about their work backgrounds, etc. All of this can influence how motivated or effective someone feels in their position.
  • The encouragement of expressing ideas is important in helping the profession (and librarians themselves) learn and grow. NMRT’s online discussion forum is a great way for members to have an influential voice, receive advice, and to share ideas that can be valuable to others. It’s also a great way for members to support each other and to have camaraderie in the struggles they face and to brainstorm solutions. I hope to achieve that by supporting an effective forum and encouraging increased participation. I hope that the topics discussed in the forum is something that members can take back to their current and future positions.
  1. Knowledge of Continued Opportunities – Not everyone in a leadership position is aware of all the opportunities to develop professionally. Continued growth is important for everyone.
  • I hope to assist with this aspect by helping committees highlight leadership opportunities available within the association and straightforward steps on how to get involved. Additionally, recognizing NMRT members for their leadership work in traditional and non-traditional roles will do a lot to encourage continued professional development as well as to show others different forms of leadership.
  1. Imposter Syndrome (or a lesser version of this) – Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Taking on a new leadership position may cause some librarians to hold back from highlighting their accomplishments because they don’t feel it is noteworthy or are intimidated by what is considered “success” in field.
  • I hope that by addressing the previous two issues we will open a dialogue for members to feel empowered and confident. I will work with the committees to support members to feel engaged in NMRT through these discussions, opportunities, and skill-sharing with fellow members, NMRT leaders, and across ALA.

I hope to use the role as Leadership Development Director as an opportunity to further the career growth of new members, highlight the experience of members, and bring power to their voice.

Madison Sullivan: Getting up to speed. You might be walking into a group that has been around longer than you have been a librarian. It’s hard to learn the politics, where to focus your efforts, and to learn where the organization has been when planning where it’s hoping to go next.

Secondly, I think it can be difficult to determine or assess the needs of those you serve. If you want your work to be of use to others and to have an impact, you have to listen and work with others to make those determinations.

I would also say the usual: communication and time management. That’s four. 😉

I would work to develop the leadership skills of NMRT members by listening as a peer and colleague and building my work off that. I would want to include members in our decision-making and planning process in whatever we do. I would want our members to feel empowered to create or pitch their own ideas or events that could benefit fellow members. I would work to help create opportunities for members to share their own knowledge and skills.

I think we can also continue to partner with other ALA divisions and interest groups in developing worthwhile programs, events, webinars, and discussions around leadership and professional development. There’s opportunity to work with the Spectrum Scholarship Program, the Emerging Leaders Program, and ALA Student Chapters across the United States. I would also want to brainstorm more opportunities for informal networking and peer-to-peer mentoring among new ALA members and leaders.

What do you hope to learn if elected?

Holly Kouns: I want to learn from the vast experiences of the NMRT membership. So many have come before me, and the lessons from their successes and failures are invaluable. I want to use this opportunity to learn by partnering with them and experiencing it together.

Leigh Milligan: I want to learn about the higher-up inter-workings of NMRT and ALA as a whole.  I would also like to learn more from our members on what we can do for them. This way we can develop our members as leaders, which is a great skill to have as a librarian and in the professional world.

Veronica Milliner: In general, I hope to continue to learn from fellow NMRT members. As I mentioned before, it is important for us to learn from each other as a means of personal and professional growth. If elected, throughout my term I hope my interactions with committee members and NMRT participants will be a fruitful learning experience. I also hope this experience will help me learn skills and techniques of project management on a large scale and collaborating between multiple people.

Madison Sullivan: I want to learn more about the kinds of services and opportunities members want. How can we support our members – especially those that haven’t been well represented in this field? What do librarians need to lead happy, healthy, successful professional lives – how can the NMRT help? Do we have a role to play in providing holistic support to the “whole librarian?” How can we further involve LIS students in what we do?

Ultimately, I want to learn how I can be of better use to other librarians. Where’s the need? How can I help?

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

Holly Kouns: I use my Outlook calendar on a daily basis and schedule my days and deadlines using it. If elected, I plan to be diligent about scheduling deadlines and work time to ensure they’re being appropriately met.

Leigh Milligan: I am a super busy person. I work a full-time job, I volunteer in a library, I run a side business with my husband ( 8BitFusion) and I am involved with NMRT and several committees with Special Libraries Association. I also travel a lot and stay busy with my social life. Many people ask me, how do you do it, when do you sleep?  Honestly, I tend to flourish when I am super busy and have a lot going on, otherwise life would be boring.

With that being said, I am a champion when it comes to time management. I keep my schedule with my Google Calendar,which alerts me of all my events and deadlines. I am also a To-Do list maker, making sure everything on my lists get done in a timely fashion. I also recognize the need for self-care, so I do not burn out while doing my tasks. My NMRT duties have always been a priority and that will not change as leadership development director.

Veronica Milliner: There are a few time management strategies that I hope to bring to this committee leadership position. I believe that setting personal deadlines for work is a great way to keep up with responsibilities. Also, in terms of managing the leadership development committees, I hope that by providing open communication between them and myself I will be able to help with any time management issues that they are having and to assist when needed. This will help to address issues and problems in a timely manner. I also find it personally helpful to write down my goals for the day and/or week, to make myself responsible for certain actions during the week and to hold myself accountable. Lastly, and most importantly, I think one of the best time management tactics is to not take on too much. By having too much on your plate it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In this position I’ll make sure that committee members, as well as myself, have set manageable goals and duties for ourselves that will allow us to effectively complete them.

Madison Sullivan: It’s a privilege to work at an organization that supports (and actually requires) professional development and contributions to the broader profession. It is expected that some of our work time will be spent on service. As librarians, we wear many hats. We have had to learn how to balance and negotiate our time because our work demands it. I use multiple physical and digital calendars (and alerts!) to schedule every day hour-to-hour. Before bed, I go over my schedule for the following day. I didn’t always used to be such a planner, but I’ve found this to be an effective strategy for me in making sure I meet deadlines, get my work done, and come to meetings prepared. I make a point to set deadlines and timelines at the beginning of a project to keep myself accountable. Checking in with others on a regular basis is another way I keep myself honest and on task with my work. I understand that this position may require that I work some evenings and weekends to fulfill my responsibilities, and I am willing to do so.



NMRT Member of the Week – Sierra Laddusaw

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:14 am by nmrtsecretary


Name: Sierra Laddusaw

Institution/Location of Institution: Texas A&M University Libraries, College Station, Texas

Job Title: Map Librarian

Brief job description: As Map Librarian I provide instruction around the map collection, design outreach activities and events, catalog cartographic materials, and handle collection development.

What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

I love connecting people to the materials they need and with maps it is a scavenger hunt! I also enjoy building the collection, there are a number of interesting collections within the map collection – including our Maps of Imaginary Places, Cuba, and Texas A&M Collections – and purchasing new material to add to them is exciting.

What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

At the Texas A&M Libraries we are in the process of creating a new diversity plan. Our previous plan worked fine, but had reached the end of its life. I am excited to be a member of the team that is crafting the new plan, in our meetings we are having difficult conversations and addressing those elephants within our organization. We hope that the new plan, once completed, will help move our organization forward and be a living document that can grow and evolve as our library does.

What got you interested in libraries?

My parents instilled a love of reading in both my brother and myself. My mother would take us to the public library during summer break where we devoured the books in the children’s section and I remember looking at the images of mummies, exotic animals, and foreign countries in the encyclopedias in the reference section. When out shopping I can’t remember a time where either of my parents told me no when I wanted to buy a book. Alongside that, there are a number of librarians that made an impact on me. My middle school librarian who would set aside books that she thought I would enjoy, my junior high librarian who gave me my first student position in a library, my high school librarian who was more of a guidance counselor to me than the staff with that title, and the librarians at my undergrad who hired me and gave me fascinating projects to work on (alongside the dreaded shifting). These librarians were women who were smart, were in charge of caring for material I loved, and made me feel welcomed, I wanted to grow up to be like them.

What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

The opportunities to get involved at a national level. As a new librarian I didn’t think it would be easy to get to serve on a national level committee. Thanks to NMRT I felt empowered to apply for committee work and was selected to serve on the NMRT Student Chapter of the Year Award Committee.

Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Say yes to opportunities and don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. It is easy to sit at your desk and only do the work that is in your job description. You’ll do fine, you’ll probably get good marks on your evaluation, but librarianship has much more to offer and becomes such a fruitful endeavor when you step outside of your comfort zone.



Building Bridges in ALA

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:41 pm by nmrtsecretary

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by ALA’s size? Are you confused by the many ALA Divisions and their functions? Join us for the 2017 NMRT President’s Program, Building Bridges in ALA, an ALA Pre-Conference Workshop hosted by Kate Kosturski, on Friday, June 23, 2017 from 9am to 12pm. NMRT will have a panel of transitioning ALA presidents and presidents-elect on hand to help answer your questions about ALA’s organization and the opportunities available to you for career advancement.

In this interactive pre-conference event, participants will explore the challenges of navigating through the larger ALA organization by listening to a panel discussion composed of Vicki L. Sipe, Mary Beth Thompson, Ann Campion Riley, Jeanette P. Smithee, Andromeda Yelton, John Spears, Pixey A. Mosley, Felton Thomas, Jr., Pam Sandlain Smith, Chris LeBeau, and Susan J. Schmidt. Ask questions and network with the panelists while enjoying light refreshments. The cost of participating in the workshop is $20 for NMRT members; $22 for non-NMRT but ALA members; $25 for non-ALA; and $15 for students.


Apply for the 2017 Professional Development Attendance Award

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:36 pm by nmrtsecretary

This year’s Annual Conference Professional Development Attendance Award committee is happy to announce that they are now accepting applications for the 2017 cycle. This award will allow two recipients to attend a ticketed event of their choice ($100 or less) at the 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago.  This award is intended to help NMRT members attend an event that will enhance their professional development and networking experience that might be otherwise out of reach.
You must be an NMRT member to apply and have plans to attend the Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. Not an NMRT member? Be sure to go to the ALA website (link: http://www.ala.org/) to learn more about NMRT and join. Applicants are required to explain how attending a ticketed event will help them both personally and professionally in 250 words less.
Applications are due by April 15, 2017 at 6pm EST. Winners will be notified by May 6, 2017.
Questions? Feel free to contact committee chair, Amelia Vander Heide (amelia.vanderheide@yahoo.com).

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