NMRT 2018-2019 Candidates: Member Services Director

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

Name: Madison Sullivan

Question 1: Why are you interested in this position?

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 serve our members and help them reach their professional development goals based on their interests and needs!

As the Membership Services 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 are interested in professional development. 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.

Question 2: What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

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 our members 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 ALA committees, and I was named a 2016 ALA Emerging Leader. Currently, I’m a Co-Chair for the NMRT President’s Program for the 2018 ALA Annual Conference, and the Chair for the ACRL Residency Interest Group Programs and Proposals Committee. 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, and research support for our business school community. 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.

Question 3: As Member Services Director, you will oversee the activities of committees that serve NMRT members and support member efforts toward professional development. What do you believe are the top three professional development priorities for new librarians, and why?

  • Diversity, cultural competency, and social justice professional development training. I’m not sure if other people view this as a the top priority for new librarians, but I think we all need it (myself included!). Frankly, this kind of training is something we all need to make an effort to do on a regular basis throughout our careers. It could help to positively change our hiring practices, the way we interact with other librarians and library staff, and how we meet our user’s needs. As a profession that is incredibly homogeneous, we need librarians who work with empathy and understand intersectionality.
  • Leadership training. I think librarianship is lacking in leadership training, especially for new librarians. Many current leadership development programs focus on librarians who are already in positions of power. The training needs to happen before we get to that point! Many of us assume we will never need the training to begin with (I’m guilty of this!) – big mistake. I had no idea how often librarians would need to step up even if they aren’t the head of a department or a director. You may need to take the lead on a project, initiative, or an internal or external committee. Just because you don’t have a traditional leadership role within your library hierarchy, you will be called to lead something at some point – and it’s important to be prepared. I’ve found leadership training helpful in learning how to understand others, how to work in teams, how to deal with confrontation, and how to communicate effectively. I think current leadership training in libraries doesn’t focus enough on diversity and social justice, work/life balance, intersectionality, healthy work habits, implicit bias, emotional labor, understanding disabilities and mental illness, and developing empathetic leaders.
  • Becoming more professionally involved beyond our own library or department. No matter the type of librarian, most new librarians want to connect and become more professionally involved at a state, regional, national, or international level. When we’re more professionally involved, we’re able to learn so much from others. This could be through conferences, publishing research, or other forms of knowledge sharing. I think most new librarians are overwhelmed when thinking about how to get involved with the profession and they might not be sure how to get started. I think there also needs to be more assistance for those who are interested in presenting at conferences or webinars (how to write proposals, presentation skills in person and virtually, etc.), and for those who wish to publish in some way or conduct library research.

How will you engage prospective and current NMRT members in the activities of the Roundtable?

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 would also be interested in engaging members virtually in more ways, especially for those who are unable to attend conferences.

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’m especially excited about how we can work more with student chapters. I would also want to brainstorm more opportunities for informal networking and peer-to-peer mentoring among new ALA members and leaders.

Question 4: What do you hope to learn if elected?

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?

Question 5: If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

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.

 

Candidate: Sierra Laddusaw

Question 1: Why are you interested in this position?

I see this position as a way to be more involved, at the national level, in the library field. I have served on committees for ALA and other library organizations as a member or a chair, the Member Services Director position is an opportunity for me take on a larger leadership role. This position is a growth opportunity for me and aligns with my own professional development goals.

Question 2: What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Skills and experiences I bring to this position include organization skills, leadership experience, and the ability to ask questions.

Organization: I’m a planner, projects I work on have schedules and management plans. I document processes along the way and create reports once they are finished, this allows me to provide those above me accountability reports and leaves documentation for people who may work on the project in the future.

Leadership experience: For four years now I have chaired the Texas A&M University GIS Day planning committee, a group that plans a three day conference held annually in November that features hands-on workshops, panel sessions, student competitions, and a career fair. As chair I bring together students, faculty, and staff from across Texas A&M’s departments to plan the event. The committee organizes speakers, raises sponsorship funding, and recruits companies to attend. Through this experience I have learned valuable time management, leadership, and fundraising skills.

Questions: To me, inquisitiveness is a skill and not just a trait. It takes energy and courage to ask questions about why and how things are done, and like all skills it requires practice. I am willing to ask questions and I work to create a space others feel comfortable to ask questions.

Question 3: As Member Services Director, you will oversee the activities of committees that serve NMRT members and support member efforts toward professional development. What do you believe are the top three professional development priorities for new librarians, and why? How will you engage prospective and current NMRT members in the activities of the Roundtable?

I believe the top three professional development priorities for new librarians are networking through professional organizations, participating in a mentor program, and staying abreast of trends and emerging technologies through keeping up with publications and participating in training. Networking can be intimidating, however the importance of participating in a professional organization and meeting people from outside of your place of employment cannot be overstated. Organizations, like ALA, serve as a platform for interacting and forming relationships with other information professionals. These relationships can lead to collaborations, professional growth, and even job opportunities. I also believe it is important to speak with and hear from those outside of your own institution; you encounter new ideas, gather outside feedback on your ideas, and in general get a more diverse view on the profession.

I’ve had, and still have several mentors. I’ve had both formal and informal mentoring relationships, ranging from someone I could talk to over tea to individuals assigned to me by my library. Each of them has been invaluable. As an early career librarian, my current mentors are helping me navigate the field, serve as sounding boards for ideas I have, and are there to talk when I am feeling frustrated or lost. I will always encourage other new librarians to seek out mentors as I have found mentoring to have a positive effect on my career and personal growth.

There are, what feels like, hundreds of thousands of articles talking about the future of libraries. It is important that we keep up with these changes while also remembering our core values. We should not be afraid to learn and adopt new technologies and services, however we shouldn’t do it blindly – each advancement or change needs to be assessed and critiqued. We can do all of this through in-person and online training, participating in the conversations around emerging technology, and reading publications by others in our field (if there isn’t a publication you should write a blog post, a magazine article, or a peer-reviewed paper to help out your fellow librarians).

A large part of engaging members is communicating ways they can be involved and the opportunities we offer them for professional development. Through the Member Services Director position, there are multiple tools to engage our members – Endnotes, Footnotes, Resume Reviews, and Mentoring. Through both broad announcements (posting on our listserv or social media) and more targeted communication (encouraging members working on interesting projects or research to submit to Endnotes and Footnotes) we can increase participation.

Question 4: What do you hope to learn if elected?

There are a few things I hope to learn if I am elected. This is a great opportunity to learn more about ALA, to see how leadership is organized and how the round tables are supported by the larger association. This would also be a great opportunity to continue to grow my leadership skills, especially leadership in a digital environment where much of the communication would be electronically instead of face-to-face. Lastly, I hope I would learn more about NMRT members. I’ve interacted with and met several, but this position comes with the opportunity to reach out to and learn more about what NMRT members want to see within the professional development aspect of the organization.

Question 5: If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

I am highly organized person, I like timelines, deadlines, and calendars. I would use many of the methods I use in my day-to-day work and personal life to ensure that the responsibilities of this position are a priority. As I receive tasks each would go on my task board, where I keep a running to-do list and next steps, and would put alerts on my calendar for preferred deadline (I like to do things early and typically give myself a preferred deadline of a week before an item is due), actual deadline, and lead up reminders. I would also book time on my calendar for accomplishing these tasks, ensuring that they are worked on routinely and not left until the last minute.

 

Candidate: Tammy Ivins

Question 1: Why are you interested in this position?

I have been a member of NMRT since graduate school in 2011, and it has been invaluable in helping me become acclimated to and successful in the profession. Through NMRT, I have published articles, coordinated ALA conference sessions, networked with professionals in the field. NMRT has given me a lot, and I want to do my part in helping new librarians flourish in our profession through a vibrant and active round table.

Question 2: What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

I am familiar with NMRT and have a record of accomplishment serving it. Since 2011, I have served on or chaired six different ALA-NMRT committees (most several years in a row); currently, I am co-chairing the Endnotes committee for the second year in the row. As co-chair of Endnotes, I have helped secure the journal’s move to an open journal platform, designed a new professional article layout, standardized the peer-review process & training, increased marketing, and improved documentation and processes.

My success being part of and leading NMRT committees stems from my strong time and project management skills, which allow me to keep on top of deadlines and tasks.

Question 3: As Member Services Director, you will oversee the activities of committees that serve NMRT members and support member efforts toward professional development. What do you believe are the top three professional development priorities for new librarians, and why? How will you engage prospective and current NMRT members in the activities of the Roundtable?

In my experience, the top three professional development priorities for new librarians are:

1)    Job seeking skills, such as interview skills, resume crafting, and cover letter writing. It is heartbreaking to see new librarians leaving the profession for lack of employment, and so the job hunting skills of new librarians must be a major priority for NMRT.

2)    Networking, both with mentors and with peers. Great librarianship doesn’t happen in a vacuum; what makes librarianship great is out ability to learn from each other. It is therefore crucial that new librarians form strong, beneficial relationships with other librarians, in order to lay the groundwork for future success.

3)    Inspiration!, It is important to keep learning by hearing what other new librarians are doing and discovering resources & tools available to help facilitate our work as librarians.  The words “we have always done it this way” should cross no librarian’s lips, but particularly not the lips of a new librarian.

We can engage new librarians into NMRT activities by making sure our focus remains on providing relevant professional development opportunities and effectively marketing those opportunities inside and outside ALA.  Having a sincere dedication to supporting our fellow new librarians is the only way that we will fulfill our roundtable’s mission.

Question 4: What do you hope to learn if elected?

I hope to learn about how more of the NMRT committees work, as well as insight into how a roundtable operates inside of ALA. I also hope to learn even more about other members of NMRT and what the new wave of librarianship looks like!

Question 5: If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

My favorite time management trick is creating a job “dashboard” for any project I run. The dashboards contain all the basic information I need, including names, contact information, and deadlines. It is a huge time-saver to have all that information readily available, without having to searching through numerous locations. I also utilize outlook tasks to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Lastly, I block time off on my calendar to complete responsibilities, rather than waiting until I have time in-between events. These tricks allow me to stay on top of my responsibilities in a time-efficient manner.

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