Meet the candidates for NMRT Vice-President/President-Elect

Take a few minutes to get to know the candidates running for NMRT Vice-President/President Elect. Don’t forget to vote for your NMRT Board representation as well as other ALA positions beginning March 9th through April 1st.

Dani Cook, candidate for Vice-President/President Elect

Why are you interested in this position? 

I have been a member of NMRT since my first year of library school, and the community and mentorship that I’ve found through the round table has been a key part of my professional life. My NMRT mentor was a huge support for me during my first year in a professional role, my CV still bears the formatting fingerprints of the reviewer who looked at it during my first ALA conference, and my first major professional service was chairing the NMRT President’s Program for the 2014 conference. I’m running for NMRT Vice-President/President-Elect because I know first-hand the value of the NMRT community and want to work with the rest of the Board to continue to make these services robust for members who are entering the profession and might not have the community or professional support network locally available. I’m especially interested in working to make our events, services, and speaking engagements more accessible to a geographically distributed audience–how can we better serve members who might not be able to attend conferences, as well as support new professionals year-round? I’ve found so much value in NMRT, I would be honored to lead the organization as it steps its game to be more inclusive and accessible to library workers than ever before.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

I bring a deep understanding of the NMRT structure, as I’ve served on seven NMRT committees over the years, as well as most recently served as Networking Chair in 2018-20. I have a strong awareness of where things will work well, and where they might be room for improving processes. I also have served on LITA and ACRL committees, so bring a broader view to ALA as well, which I think is especially critical in this moment of change for our professional organization.

During my time as a member of NMRT, my professional path has taken me from being a library school student working as library staff in my local public library, to a term-limited grant-funded position in an academic library, to a coordinator role for reference and instruction, and now to a managerial position in a mid-sized academic library. Being close to all of these experiences means that I have an understanding of issues that have an outsized effect on those entering our profession, including student debt, precarious labor, and stepping into roles with increasing responsibility. I will bring this awareness to my term as vice-president/president-elect, and hope to engage with these issues together.

I have been a manager for almost four years, and have learned and evolved my person-centered managerial practice. I view my role as a leader to guide and set the vision, and as a manager to provide the resources and coach my colleagues to do the best work they can. Of course, I also bring experience with providing feedback and having the hard conversations when things are not going well. In addition to my day-to-day experience, I have experience managing distributed professional service teams through NMRT and other national organizations.

As Vice-President/President-Elect 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?

Setting clear goals from the start will be key for us to begin our collegial relationship on the best foot. I anticipate that I would meet with the current President shortly after the election to speak with her about her vision for her presidential year and how I can help support her (logistically or otherwise) to accomplish her goals. I will also work with her to establish milestones for my vice-presidential year, so that I can ensure that my presidential year will have ties to the previous one, as well as be well-articulated and planned. I expect to hew closely to the suggested timeline in the NMRT Handbook, and maintain ongoing communication with both the current president and other board members.

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

Just like all other library workers, I have many competing priorities in life: my family, my day-to-day work, my professional service, my education, my health and well-being. In order to maintain any semblance of order, I rely on a number of time-management skills and tools. I’m a strong believer in setting milestone deadlines and sticking to them; I use a paper-based planner to make sure I hit these (as well as to see what is upcoming and reflect), and schedule time into my Outlook calendar every day to make progress on them. I recently started using Trello boards with some members of my team to track collaborative projects–I really like using them, and plan to use them to track NMRT projects if elected as Vice-President/President-Elect.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?

I recently listened to the sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People, which is about the importance of community spaces in society. He calls these spaces “community infrastructure,” and includes places like public libraries, public swimming pools, and community gardens. This book made me reflect on my own community and how much did (and didn’t) feel connected to where I lived, and re-doubled my intention to support the community spaces I value. Klinenberg brings to light how critical community networks are in times of crisis, as well as for our everyday mental and physical health. I’ve been recommending this book to people constantly! Not only is it a compelling argument, but the individual case studies are interesting and stick with you.

Tim Furgal, candidate for Vice-President/President Elect

Why are you interested in this position? 

Being elected as Vice-President/President-Elect of the New Member Round Table (NMRT) would be a humbling honor and allow me to give back to the community that brought me here. It’s been a privilege to meet and work with so many exceptional colleagues through my involvement with ALA. I earnestly believe that the greatest resource we have as information professionals is our network of colleagues – diverse, dedicated people from all backgrounds, doing the work with integrity, passion, and a willingness to serve others. Everyone beginning their career should have access to this same network of talent and I’d love to work to make that a reality for more of our members, particularly those working in public and school libraries.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Given my unique and diverse perspective working across library sectors – I’ve worked in academic, school, public, and public systems, I’m able to understand and connect with colleagues from widely varying backgrounds. The project management skills that I bring from my work as a public library system consultant with 48 member libraries will help me stay on top of the duties expected of me as Vice-President/President. I’ve been a member of ALA and NMRT since I began my Master’s in Information Science in 2015. I’ve been a committee member or chair of the following NMRT committees: the Midwinter Social Committee, the Annual Social Committee, President’s Program Committee, and the Nominating Committee. In the 5 years that I’ve been serving within the New York Library Association (NYLA), I’ve been able to work within the organization’s structure to create meaningful programs and opportunities for the New Members of NYLA (NMN): I organized the first Women’s Leadership Panel at our annual conference, led the re-branding of the round table, and worked to expand volunteer opportunities. I was the first paraprofessional elected to the board of the Leadership and Management Section of NYLA and I am currently serving as the President of that unit. With this combination of hard and soft skills, I’m confident I would be a successful Vice-President/President-Elect.

As Vice-President/President-Elect 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?

I believe the best way to learn is through careful listening and thoughtful action, in that order. I think that time spent engaging with the President on their initiatives, actively listening to the hopes and concerns of my colleagues in NMRT over the course of the year, and reflecting on the dynamic changes ALA is currently undertaking will give me everything I need to inform my work as President.

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

Thankfully, previous NMRT officials have created a timetable for the work that has to get done. I’ve found this helpful with past positions and would adhere to it in my position as Vice-President. I’m a huge fan of timeboxing and the strategies espoused by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. I keep a robust digital calendar and use a day planner in order to stay on track and move my life forward. Clear and timely communication with the President in order to prevent the duplication of work is another strategy that I’d employ to keep our work on track.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?The Education of an Idealist, a memoir by Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, was a book I couldn’t put down. It was an intensely personal and humane look into working within the halls of power in our country. I’m tremendously interested in how small changes to policy can create outsized effects on quality of life and Power’s story was a masterclass in recognizing how to make life better for those suffering through the use of policy development. Having the opportunity to revisit former President Obama’s idea that we must deal with the world as it is, in order to remake it as it should be, has been a great source of strength for me lately. At a time when there’s so much tension in the world, the book was a hopeful, smart, funny, and uplifting perspective to be informed by.

This entry was posted in ALA NMRT Elections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *