By Betsy Appleton, Electronic Resources Librarian at George Mason University
My ALCTS experience started in 2007, after talking to a friend from grad school about how lost I was when trying to navigate ALA. The divisions and round tables I was familiar with did not best fit my needs as a new serials librarian. This friend encouraged me to check out ALCTS, telling me it was my “ALA home.” She was right. Although it took me a few more years to really settle into this home, I have been an actively participating in ALCTS since late 2010, when I became the 2011 ALCTS-sponsored Emerging Leader. I completed the Emerging Leader program with much-appreciated support from the division.
Each year, emerging leaders are divided into small groups to work on projects for ALA divisions and round tables. As a member of the creatively named Project Group D, I had the opportunity to learn more about Preservation Week as we worked with the working group chair to increase awareness for the second annual Preservation Week. It was a great experience to work with this group, and I learned a lot about successfully completing work when collaborating with colleagues who are located at a considerable geographical distance from each other.
I am already applying what I learned about working with colleagues at a distance in my current ALCTS experience. One of the unique opportunities for the ALCTS-sponsored Emerging Leader is that he or she serves as intern for the ALCTS Board of Directors during the following year. My participation on the board is providing a very broad sample of all the exciting work that is being done by the sections, committees, interest groups, and other such groups within the division. Among the highlights of what I’ve learned so far:
- ALCTS has so many incredible mentors within the membership. I have been so impressed by the assistance, encouragement, and advice I’ve received in the past few years.
- It is extremely easy to get involved with a committee or an interest group, and the workload required for active participation is very manageable.
- It is difficult to be among strangers for more than ten minutes at a member reception: everyone is so collegial and approachable.
I left this year’s Midwinter Meeting feeling energized about my continued participation in ALCTS. As intern to the Board of Directors, one of my duties is to take minutes for the board meetings. While taking these minutes, I found myself making an overwhelming number of mental notes to further investigate the work being done by many of the groups that gave reports. It will be hard to decide what to choose next year to further my ALCTS experience, and I suspect I’ll have a long list of potential committees and interest groups in which to participate in coming years. It seems I am in a reversed situation in comparison to my beginnings in ALCTS: instead of being lost in all of the not-for-me opportunities ALA has to offer, I’m happily overwhelmed by those offered within ALCTS.