My ALCTS Experience

Dracine Hodges

The Ohio State University

The first ALA Annual Conference I attended was back in 2002 when it was in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. I was working in an academic library as an acquisitions assistant and contemplating library school. My first librarian mentors offered me an opportunity to go to the exhibits to get a taste of ALA. Needless to say, it was an overwhelming buffet of vendors and thousands of librarians. It was quite daunting to wrap my head around the scale of it all. However, it did contribute to my decision to pursue a career in librarianship.

During my last semester of graduate school, I joined ALA and became a member of ALCTS with the intention of connecting with fellow newbies and seasoned librarians as I looked for my first professional position. Though I had worked in different areas as a library staff member, including access services and reference, I knew I wanted to pursue the acquisitions specialty. I was fortunate enough to be awarded an acquisitions-focused residency at The Ohio State University in 2007, which really raised my awareness of the remarkable people involved with ALCTS. After starting the residency, I promptly enrolled in the ALCTS’ Fundamentals of Acquisitions web course, which helped orient me to the large-scale acquisitions work in which I would be involved. I’ve since become the head of Acquisitions and continue to take advantage of interesting ALCTS webinars and web courses that pique my professional curiosity.

Previously, I had been a casual member of ALCTS, not really understanding how much more I could be getting out of my membership. Several colleagues encouraged me to volunteer to serve on an ALCTS committee as a way to learn more about the organization, but to also take advantage of the many opportunities for networking and professional development. Interestingly enough, I filled out the volunteer form and was promptly appointed as intern to the ALCTS Membership Committee. I am in my third year with the committee, now as a full member, and continue to enjoy our work drafting communications to the membership at-large and our role in planning the increasingly popular ALCTS 101 event for new members. This is always a rewarding experience because I enjoy talking to librarians who are eager to participate and interested in the different perspectives of experienced librarians. I was in their shoes not very long ago and still seek advice about life and career from colleagues I’ve met through my ALCTS participation.

In addition to the Membership Committee, I also served as a past co-chair of the Technical Services Workflow Efficiency Interest Group. I attended a timely session on strategies for coping with budget cuts sponsored by this group at the Annual Conference in Chicago a few years ago. Towards the end of the session the outgoing co-chair announced a vacancy and called for volunteers. I handed her my business card and was soon working with the other chair to plan a program for the following Midwinter Meeting. I really enjoyed the sort of grassroots work of planning an interest group session based upon topics trending on discussion lists and blogs or direct communication from an ALCTS member seeking insight on issues they were confronting. One of my favorite sessions was a panel discussion of the current renaissance in technical services and collection development work many of us are experiencing.

There are many opportunities to be involved and make meaningful connections that personalize an individual’s membership while contributing to our professional community. A little bit of gumption (read: volunteer) will bring significant reward. I’m looking forward to my next ALCTS adventure when I begin a term on the Publications Committee in July. I anticipate seeing old friends and making new ones, but most of all I’m looking forward to learning new things and continuing to grow.