My ALCTS Experience
Genevieve Owens, Williamsburg Regional Library
My ALCTS experience began in the late eighties when I was Head of Collection Development at an academic library. I completed a volunteer form and was invited to serve on the Library Materials Price Index Committee. I offered to redevelop the United States Newspapers Price Index (it had been dormant for a few years) and eventually created an International Newspapers Price Index as well. I was barely twenty-five back then, and I was not entirely sure what I was getting myself into. Fortunately, I had, and continue to enjoy, a wonderful collaborator on both projects, Wilba Swearingen. Wilba’s serials background and passion for that work came shining through one afternoon when we were selecting titles for the U.S. index. I expressed frustration with all the title variations, the multiple publication frequencies, and the numerous delivery options. Wilba cheerfully yet emphatically replied, “Oh, Genevieve. Serials are fun. They’re just little puzzles to solve.” That attitude has served me well, in serials work and many other aspects of my professional life. (Thank you, dear “Miss W.”)
The late eighties were also the time when the Resources Section became the Collection Management and Development Section we know today. That same volunteer form generated my invitation to serve on the CMDS Policy and Planning Committee. I really enjoyed that committee’s focus on the trends, issues, and ideas shaping collections work; its big-picture approach was an excellent balance to my detail-oriented LMPI work. That first CMDS appointment led to several others within the section; I was elected to the Executive Committee as Member at Large in 2001.
About ten years ago, my family life brought me to Williamsburg, Virginia. I switched to public library work and remained active in ALCTS for an evolving series of reasons. At first, our Association was a means of remaining connected with the academic world. As I became more involved with Division-level committees (chairing Publications and Program), however, I realized what wonderful opportunities they provide for developing skills that apply in all our professional settings, regardless of the type of library. I especially value the leadership lessons I have received just by observing the many fine members of our ALCTS Board of Directors over the years. I am honored and delighted to consider several of those individuals my mentors and friends.
This fall will mark my twentieth year in our profession. As I reach that milestone, I am struck by the themes that have come full circle. After my recent work at the Division level, I have the pleasure of returning to CMDS as Chair-Elect. The transition is both a comfortable homecoming and an invigorating opportunity. At our Annual 2007 meeting, I also helped lead a Board discussion on reaching out to ALCTS members in public libraries. We talked about very specific strategies (like incorporating Dewey numbers into the examples we use in training materials), and we explored some broad concepts, too. Participants noted that while some ALCTS topics may not apply to public libraries (or, for that matter, to small or midsize academic libraries), the majority of them really do. Our challenge is to identify those commonalities and address them in inclusive ways. I am grateful for all the inclusion I have enjoyed as an ALCTS member, and I look forward to continuing that tradition.