My ALCTS Experience
Ruth C. Carter, University of Pittsburgh Libraries (retired)
Although I had attended a few earlier conferences, my active participation in division groups and committees begin in 1975 when I attended the Large Research Libraries Serials Discussion Group of the then Resources and Technical Services Division (RTSD). Chairing that discussion group was my first official service for the association. During the next decade most of my professional activities were centered in RTSD’s Serials Section with a secondary focus in the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA). Even back then, it was hard to separate systems and technical services; they were and still are interdependent.
In 1984, I was elected Chair-Elect/Chair/Past Chair of the Serials Section, a three-year commitment that included one year of service on the RTSD Board of Directors while I chaired the section. In 1989 I won election as President Elect/President/ Past President of RTSD for 1989/90–1991/92. Imagine my surprise at my first meeting with the then current officers of the division to find that the name was changing to the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS.)
Often during the three years commitment required of a division president I felt like I had fallen into a bottomless pit of process rather than content. Nonetheless, I believed then and do today, that it is essential to share the activities that are necessary to an organization’s existence if one wants to partake of the organization’s many benefits. So I willingly went to 7:00 am meetings of all the division presidents and other similar meetings that meant my sleep suffered but my professional relationships and service (I hope) flourished. Perhaps my presidential year’s most memorable event was the establishment of the ALCTS online newsletter, then known as AN2. I gladly acknowledge that the idea originated in an Executive Board meeting with Past President Nancy John, Vice-President Arnold Hirshon, and then Executive Director Karen Muller. All of us enthusiastically wanted to “go for it” and thus, ALCTS became the first division with an online newsletter.
ALCTS and, more broadly, ALA service and involvement, has many benefits, both tangible and intangible. Programs and publications are timely and/or informative and can help one keep current in general as well as provide information useful in on-the-job decision making. Committee work adds the chance to influence policy, rules, and standards. Perhaps even more importantly committee membership provides the opportunity to get to know counterparts from other institutions and leads to invaluable networking and often deep, personal friendships. Fortunately, I experienced all of these wonderful opportunities and aspects of being an active participant in ALCTS.
My ALCTS participation and long history with serials also led to my receiving an ALA nomination for membership of the IFLA Committee on Serial Publications. Like others honored with the opportunity to represent ALA in the international arena, I found IFLA a highlight of my professional career. In addition to forming professional friendships across international borders, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity for travel. One of the experiences I will never forget was the IFLA Conference in Moscow in 1991. It directly coincided with the putsch against the government; tanks and soldiers filled the streets; the future was uncertain. All ended happily though and the IFLA final party was just that as representatives from the countries in the world danced together and celebrated. It was an occasion to remember and all came to my experience because of ALCTS and ALA. I will always be glad and thankful for ALCTS and the many opportunities it gave me.