My ALCTS Experience
Jennifer Younger, University of Notre Dame
My earliest memories of ALCTS are of racing from one committee meeting to another and from one program to another to learn as much as I possibly could absorb. At that time, the ALA conferences were frequently in Chicago. Many of the ALCTS meetings were in the Palmer House so the challenge was more easily met then than now, but still in all it was a frantic pace.
Later, I learned the conferences seemed overwhelming and "closed" to others. Subsequent actions by ALCTS leaders and me led to improved orientation for new members, expanded discussion groups and a new emphasis on reaching out to those volunteering for committee participation.
My efforts to be seen and heard were recognized with an appointment as the liaison from the Cataloging and Classification Section (CCS) to the Catalog Use Committee in what was then the Reference and Adult Services Division (RASD) and then, in the next year, I was asked to chair a subcommittee of the CCS Subject Analysis Committee (SAC). I knew something about the construction of subject headings but not much about art, so chairing the Subcommittee on Subject Headings for Individual Works of Art, Architecture and Analogous Structures represented the best of ALCTS: an opportunity to learn and contribute. Despite the long name, the final report was short but influential as the Library of Congress later adopted some of the subcommittee's recommendations. This formative experience introduced me to how ALCTS carried out its mission and inspired me for years after, and still does, to participate actively in ALCTS. There have been many high points along the way, including serving as president, editor of LRTS, and program planner for other ALCTS presidents.
My participation has resulted not only in opportunities to make a positive difference in the field but also to become part of a professional network. As colleagues and friends, we have continually encouraged one another to seek new challenges, to develop professionally and personally, to keep the values of our profession in clear focus, to think creatively, to embrace the opportunities of new technology, and to see the future as one that will improve on the past. It has been a lot of work, but also fun and personally rewarding.
Within the fast-paced and changing environment surrounding the profession, one aspect remains constant. It is the ability of our members to think about the fundamental principles and practical concerns as they might emerge in the future. In 1963, Esther Piercy organized a conference around the theme of "vanishing boundaries" with discussions on how library patrons could in the future use the computer to find books in the library. In 1992, Ross Atkinson's article titled "The Acquisitions Librarian as Change Agent in the Transition to the Electronic Library" appeared in LRTS. This year, the ALCTS 50th anniversary program on interactive futures promises a provocative exploration of the transformations underway in what we do and of a vision for the future roles collection and technical services librarians and staff will play in ensuring access to the knowledge of the world.
A few years ago, I had the honor of moderating the ALCTS President's Program for President Olivia Madison. The speaker invited the audience to identify themselves as "Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials," and I was thrilled to see the raised hands of the GenXers in the audience—the Millennials were still in college. We need the intellectual curiosity, commitment to excellence, and activism of every generation to engage in the progressive tradition that is ALCTS. I hope that everyone in collection development and technical services will view ALCTS as their professional home. Come and join in the work, enjoy the journey and reap the rewards of being a participant in ALCTS.