Letters from ALCTS

charles wilt, alcts executive director

From the Office

Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director

Ten Years is a Long Time!

On September 20, 2009, I will have been working for ALCTS for ten years. For someone who thought three-year job stints were a long time, ten years looks like an infinity. This is a job no one really aspires to coming out of library school. People do aspire to be association executives, but few are librarians. It is just not something you think much about. Besides, it is working at ALA, and that we all know is a whole different universe (some think Chicago is a whole different universe and with the publicity Illinois has been getting, it is probably true). My trip through these last ten years has been an interesting experience. I have met people I otherwise would not have ever met. Worked with people I never would have had the opportunity to work with. Experienced first hand how dedicated our membership is to ALCTS and what we try to do. Awed by the amount of time our members devote to ALCTS

So at the end of the first decade of the new millennium and my ten years with you, where does this leave us and where do we want to go? This, I know, has been a theme of mine for a number of my ANO articles, but this time I want to be specific about what we can offer, to give more value to you, our current members, and those who would seek to join our association. So, some random thoughts are in order, randomly thought, randomly written.

Let me start with our newly robust continuing education program/offerings/whatever you call it. [An aside: I have been struggling somewhat with what to call our group of CE courses. Program seems to confuse these with conference programs and preconferences. Maybe there is another way of stating it I have not thought of yet.] Anyway, we have two new Web course coming next year and a couple in development. The “Fundamentals” series we started is a most popular offering. We have not yet explored all the areas of ALCTS that could be presented. Basically the question to be answered is: “If you have a new employee or one who has taken on additional responsibilities in another area, what do they need to know?” We are always looking for ideas to cover areas that would be helpful in training your staff or yourselves if faced with new duties. Remember, too, with this and other things I am going to mention, our appeal extends to the entire library community in the United States and internationally. Besides our Web courses, we have started to create Webinars, which are short presentations on one specific topic. We did two series this spring; one on how to present a Webinar offered free to ALCTS members and another on institutional repositories at the very reasonable fee of $39 to ALCTS members. Webinars serve a very specific purpose as we can offer more targeted, short learning experiences to many participants. It also gives us the chance to provide more relevant information to members, such as how to volunteer, how to be a good committee chair. These latter offerings will begin to appear next fall as we reach out to more people who cannot attend conferences, have conflicts at conference, or who just need the information. The last of our CE efforts center on our electronic list discussions. The ALCTS E-Forum began last spring. That list has 800 subscribers engaged in conversations on a variety of topics ranging from budgeting to standards to dealing with disasters. The E-forum is not the only list that converses. We have the Form/Genre list, Digipres, and Headings. All are free and open to anyone. As with all of our CE, we need content and the willingness of someone to step up and develop the idea and/or topic.

I think the second most or maybe the most public ALCTS initiative is our publications program. This means our books, LRTS, the newsletter ( ANO), now the reborn “at a Glance,” and more. The newsletter is your best source of aggregated news about ALCTS. We always are looking for good additions to the articles and news already there. An e-LRTS is just a matter of time now, now that an e-publishing platform is in place here at ALA. From “My ALCTS Experience” to the reports from conferences about forums, discussions and programs to individually penned writings, ANO has a place for your contributions. Not formal but nonetheless informative. LRTS ranks among the best journals in librarianship for research and individual promotion and tenure. It is among the most-cited and most-read and a bargain. There are opportunities for your good research to be published in LRTS.

We have been fortunate with our book publishing program over the last several years. High-quality manuscripts have provided us with books that people want to buy and they are not just ALCTS members. Our Papers Series produces works on topics that cross boundaries and include contributions by some of the best writers on library issues. Risk and Entrepreneurship: Seizing Opportunities for Change, to be available at Annual Conference, is the newest work in the series and one that will be highly sought after. With an emphasis on bringing more works more quickly to you, we are exploring a number of options for Web-based publishing. As I mentioned above, ALA has a new e-publishing platform which could be of great use to us in our electronic publishing future. One last mention here—CMDS has developed a wonderful series called the “Sudden Selectors Guides.” These short works are intended to help novice collection development staff unfamiliar with certain subjects to build collections in those areas. Several have been published and in the works. There seem to be few limits on the subjects that lend themselves to this treatment from mathematics to nursing to zoology to architecture to drama.

Technology has created a marvel of outlets for ALCTS. First and foremost is the ALA Connect space to which every group, committee, member and the public have access. Connect, for short, gives our interest groups a very wide audience. Connect gives members the opportunity to create their own group, either for an instant or for longer. Visit Connect, login, and explore. You will see postings to the ALCTS space, the section spaces, IG spaces and to any of your committees. ALCTS also has a Facebook page (280 members) and you can follow us on Twitter (49 followers). Twitter is slow to develop. It is hard to determine what we might Tweet, but that will come. If you have not joined our Facebook page, please do so and post what is going on. Annual is coming up. People have favorite things to do, photos to share, comments to make.

As you can see, I think we have lots of good opportunities for anyone who wants to help us shape ALCTS in the coming years. All of our activities help us reach out to the library community, members and non-members alike. As I said before, we are always looking for great new ideas, content, and people to make it all work.

In ten years here, I have seen a lot come and go and come again, be revised, resurrected, dusted off and reborn. It is really never ending as we position ALCTS in the ever changing environments of libraries, associations, and the world.

Contact Charles Wilt (cwilt@ala.org).