carlen ruschoff

My ALCTS Experience

Carlen Ruschoff, University of Maryland

I joined ALA and ALCTS twenty-seven years ago when I was a fairly new cataloger at Minneapolis Public Library and attended my first ALA meeting in 1979. It was an exciting time in the world of technical services with the impending implementation of AACR2, the advent of online catalogs, the prospect of automated authority control, and the anticipation of online indexes with their promise of key word searching.

In those days, I was in 100 percent “learning mode,” and looked for opportunities to expand my knowledge, particularly in the area of cataloging and cataloging standards. ALCTS was rich with opportunities and growth through programs and specialized institutes. Being a cataloger, the association offered me a number of occasions to learn about the history of the cataloging rules and the stages of development that resulted in AACR2. Through the various discussion groups such as “Big Heads” and “Heads of Cataloging,” I learned from the experiences of my colleagues as well as share my own experiences with others, particularly in planning for the challenges and management of change.

As I grew professionally, I became interested in giving back to ALCTS and to the profession as a whole. I expressed interest and was appointed to the Cataloging and Classification Committee on Description and Access (CC:DA). I found opportunities to work on conferences and institute planning committees. Eventually, I ran for office (ran and lost—hey folks keep trying even if you lose!) and became chair of the Cataloging and Classification Section and ultimately, President of ALCTS. These roles gave me the opportunity to both “learn and lead.” In keeping with my own values of learning, I continued Peggy Johnson’s theme of continuing education during my term as president. And, to this was added the concept of partnering with other groups with similar interests. The Cataloger’s Learning Workshop, for example, was the outcome of a very worthwhile multi-year collaboration between the ALCTS Advisory Task Force on Bibliographic Control of Web Resources, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), and LC’s Cataloging and Distribution Service (CDS).

While the educational opportunities were invaluable to my career, one of the most valuable resources was the professional and personal friendships I have developed over the years. My network of colleagues is broad and deep, and we exchange ideas, innovations, and disappointments. We counsel and advise one another and there is no price you can put on that! It has been a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it!

It is a great experience! So what are you waiting for? Volunteer! Get involved!

And have fun!