Get to Know ALA: Trevor Dawes

Trevor Dawes

Trevor A. Dawes

University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press

Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian

ALA Executive Board (member)

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)

2019 Conference Chair

Past President (2014-2015)

Describe how long you have been on these committees and what initially interested you in joining.

I’m going to answer this question a little differently than asked because of the committees about which I am speaking. I’ve been active in ALA in various capacities for many years. The terms of the activities in which I am currently involved are listed above. I first got involved in an LLAMA discussion group because it was directly related to my work (then access services). I volunteered to be the chair of the group, and the rest, as they say, is history. When I attended my first ACRL Conference in 2005, I was so impressed that I said I wanted to be president of ACRL—the organization that could deliver such rich and relevant content. I ran, unsuccessfully, to join the ACRL Board, but volunteered to serve on other committees within ACRL. Several years later I was nominated to stand for election for ACRL president and was successful. Serving on the executive board of ACRL helped to fuel my passion for leadership within the Association and it is for that reason – and to help see the type of organization I believe we can and should be—that I later then ran for election to the ALA Executive Board. Serving as chair of the ACRL 2019 conference is exciting because it evokes that same feeling of going to my first ACRL conference where I felt so energized. Now I hope to lead the efforts of creating a similar experience for those who participate in or attend the ACRL 2019 Conference in Cleveland, OH.

What has been your favorite project to work on during your time with ACRL?

I am absolutely thrilled to be the chair of the ACRL 2019 Conference. I referenced attending my first ACRL Conference in 2005 and what a joy that was. I now have the pleasure of being an integral part of making the 2019 conference a joy for all who attend. There are a lot of moving parts—the programming, the sponsorships and scholarships, the vendors, the locations and the food! I recently went on a site visit to Cleveland (location of the 2019 Conference) and visited some of the locations where we will have events, checked out the hotels and convention center, and also the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where we will have a reception. So in addition to all the learning opportunities, we will definitely have time for social activities and I know the conference will be great. Being a part of that planning process is just an amazing experience!

What recommendations would you have for a new ALA member who is unsure about how to get involved?

I often hear members, especially new members, say how difficult it is to get involved in ALA. We often think of being on a committee as the way to get involved and, for many of us, especially in academic libraries, that is one of the criteria on which we are evaluated for promotion and/or tenure. I got my start by literally raising my hand. There was a discussion group in need of a chair and was the only person to volunteer to be the chair. The rest, as they say, is history. Although it was easy for me to get started I had to prove myself. By that I mean, I had to be an effective chair—setting agendas, managing the meetings and following through on items needing action. As important as committee work is however, it is not the only way to get involved. ACRL has created a list of ways to connect and I often refer people to that list as it describes other ways to get involved. Although the list is created by ACRL, the advice is applicable to all (or most) of ALA.

How do you balance committee work with your current library position?

This is both easy and difficult at the same time. The easy part is that although some committees require work throughout the year, the work of some is concentrated during certain periods, such as just before, or just after the conference. For those committees, it’s easy to plan your time and focus your energy on the work when you need to. For the committees where work is done year round (like being on the ALA Executive Board), then you have to prioritize. The board meets virtually on a monthly basis and so I know that this is something for which I need to plan. There are times—few times—when I have had to miss a board meeting because of some pressing issue at work. Although I take my work on the board (or any of the committees) seriously, my job is my primary responsibility and I have to keep that in mind. And it is great when the work that you do is aligned with the work of the committees that you’re on because there is this symbiotic relationship that makes it easy.

What advice would you give to new librarians from underrepresented groups on becoming involved with committees?

There are two things I would say, and I think they are what I would say to anyone. One I’ve already said in response to an earlier question. Be sure you have the capacity to do what you volunteered for. Follow through on your commitments and understand your limitations. The second thing would be to seek out a mentor or mentors. ALA can be unwieldy at times and one of the things a mentor can do is to help navigate the complexities of the association. course, a mentor is much more than a guide to ALA, but in this context I would certainly seek one out for this purpose.

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