nancy kraft, university of iowa My ALCTS Experience: Nancy Kraft

Nancy Kraft, Preservation Department Head and Preservation Librarian, University of Iowa

When I first agreed to write this column, I imagined that I would talk about my experiences in ALCTS and how to get involved in the organization. I also thought I would have lots of time to think about what to write and would do several re-writes, getting things just right.

The Iowa floods changed all that. It is deadline time and I have not written a word. I have been consumed with dealing with the floods – getting ready, reacting, and recovering. My colleagues were astonished that I came to the ALA Conference in the midst of all this. I sometimes wondered, too, why did I take time out for the ALA Annual Conference this summer? I came for the ALCTS community.

I belong to ALCTS and the Preservation and Reformatting Section because it is a community. It is a wonderful place to network, gain support, access information, test out ideas, acquire professional knowledge and expertise, and participate as actively and at whatever level is comfortable.

The outpouring of support that I received when the Iowa and Cedar Rivers flooded was incredible. One colleague wrote that ’we did the right thing’ when we evacuated thousands of books, archives and manuscripts from the University of Iowa Main Library basement and then only took in two inches of water. Others offered advice based on their personal experiences in similar situations. Another finalized the agenda and brought copies of handouts for a meeting that I chaired at ALA. Someone else told me it was evident that I was not quite focusing and patiently outlined what needed to be done on a taskforce that I am chairing. I received hugs, applause of support at one of the PARS discussion groups and patient listening to my nattering on about flood recovery.

I attended my first ALA conference completely bewildered and lost. Then I joined ALCTS/PARS and the padg discussion list and, suddenly, I was a part of a community. Becoming involved in the community is fairly easy. Attend several discussion groups and find one that is a good fit for you, ask to be on committee, volunteer to be on a task force, write an article for LRTS, join an electronic discussion list or simply attend sessions and get acquainted with your colleagues.