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.
Candidate: Dylan Burns
Question 1: Why are you interested in this position?
I believe that we are in a critical time in library history. The once promised mass-retirements and the uncertain feelings associated with the future of libraries fosters vulnerability amongst our newest colleagues. The rise of contingency jobs and the decline in library budgets have put many students and new professionals in precarious situations. As a result, I believe that organizations like ALA, and especially New Member Roundtable, have a responsibility to provide guidance and support to library students and new professionals. As a new professional, I believe it is my duty to give back and lend a helping hand to those finding the path to be treacherous. I believe that a strong organization is essential to overcoming these difficulties.
Question 2: What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?
While I was a student I wrote for and was the community editor for Hack Library School, a blog dedicated to students in LIS programs. I feel like this gives me insight into what students and new professionals think about our profession, what anxieties plague them, and how we are all involved in the future of the field. I have developed a deep network of librarians through blogging at ACRLog, speaking at national conferences, and organizing a handful of #critlib chats on twitter. Furthermore, through Hack Library School and other nation-wide projects, I have experience running an organization with a geographically dispersed leadership through email lists, Skype, and slack channels.
As the Digital Scholarship Librarian at Utah State University, I am responsible for administering the University’s Institutional Repository. I am relied on to be cognizant of new trends in librarianship and the ever changing world of scholarship. Through this I have developed techniques to foster communication and understanding with colleagues within my library, around campus, and around the world. I am adept at tracking and organizing digital files, keeping tabs on ongoing projects, and thinking about the big picture; all of which are necessary to both my day job and being Treasurer for NMRT.
Question 3: As Treasurer, you will communicate with all committee chairs and board members. How do you propose to track these communications?
Depending on your point of view I’m either terrible or fantastic at email because I cannot let communications slip, and I cannot let emails go unanswered. This means I’m often answering student emails deep into the night. I pride myself on availability, while maintaining a healthy work-life-balance as is possible in our present circumstances. Furthermore, I organize and catalog my correspondence in my outbox to best preserve my communications with colleagues and students for easy recall. My position at my library is one that is built on trust, and this trust comes from the ability to balance my commitments, my availability, and my time as best as possible.
Treasurer plays an important role on the board as a force for accountability. As such it will be essential to track all communication, the payment of bills, and the monitoring of funds. This will require the transparent use of online and offline systems like Box and Drive to preserve a record for the board and members to be in constant knowledge of the financial situation.
Question 4: What do you hope to learn if elected?
All new members of ALA are interested in learning more about the inner workings of the organization and I believe that one of the things I will learn is how to be a leader on the national stage. This is something essential for people who are interested in making an impact beyond their individual library to learn, and I will relish this opportunity. I also want to learn more about the needs of NMRT members, the changing face of librarianship, the future of librarianship, and how we as new professionals can connect, share stories, and mentor each other.
In this time of uncertain state and library budgets the fiscal responsibility and budgeting for an organization of this size will be essential to my future as a librarian. I can think of no other office where this kind of expertise can be gained so quickly, and I will bring usable skills back to my own library for the benefit of the students and faculty of Utah State University.
Question 5: If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?
As an academic librarian my time must be successfully managed in order to balance my job responsibilities, service, and research. As a result, I am adept at setting aside times for priority projects which balances my work responsibilities with my service. To accomplish this, I dedicate time each week to long and short term projects in order to make sure that I am giving adequate time to each of them. I thrive when I’m busy. I use many online applications to achieve this including tracking important projects through Trello and Workflowy, keeping files organized and preserved via cloud services, and sharing calendars with colleagues across many scheduling platforms. Also important is an institutional commitment to service which I believe will allow me the work flexibility to devote the time I need to NMRT.