Library work has always been part of who I am. I began working in libraries as a volunteer when I was in elementary school in the third grade. I continued to spend my free periods working in the school library until I graduated from high school, so it was natural for me to get part-time work in college libraries when I needed work-study jobs. By the time I was working on an advanced degree in literature at the University of Iowa, library work had become an abiding part of who I am, so I sought full-time employment in the library’s technical services division. Interestingly though, I didn’t really consider librarianship as a career path until I had explored other career choices; when I was young no one mentioned to me what kind of careers librarians might have. By the time I enrolled in library school, my goal was to work in technical services at ARL libraries as a serials cataloger, but my professional goals have become more nuanced over time and with experience.
I first learned about ALCTS while working as a paraprofessional in the Serials Bibliographic Processing Team at the University of Iowa Libraries because many of the librarians who worked there at the time were involved with ALA. It wasn’t until I attended graduate school in the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science, that I began to understand that the strength of the association is in its rich community of technical services librarians. The librarians I have met through ALCTS share common goals and ethics, as well as a sense of service to our various communities. Like others who have written for this column, I went to my first ALA conference through ALA’s Student-to-Staff Program. My first ALA conference was in Atlanta, Georgia in 2000, where I worked for the ALCTS office by manning the Internet Café as tech support, running errands, and helping set up the room for the annual ALCTS awards ceremony.
It was a whirlwind conference, as I also gave my first ALA presentation that weekend, but it was also very fulfilling. I am honored to have been able to work with Charles Wilt, Julie Reese, and Christine McConnell during that weekend and through various committees and appointments since then. When I came home from my first "in-person" ALCTS experience, I immediately volunteered to intern on ALCTS committees and I’ve been on some committee or another almost every year since then. I am currently serving as the immediate past chair on the Executive Committee of the Continuing Resources Section; the final year of a three-year term in office.
My first ALCTS experience thirteen years ago set the tone for every ALCTS interaction since then. I was warmly welcomed into the community, shown the skills I needed to navigate a very large conference, and given a safe place to learn to grow as a professional, the freedom to ask "dumb" questions, and to feel respected at the same time. I have been privileged to be able to represent ALCTS at various levels, from committee intern to Continuing Resources Section chair, and encourage everyone who is interested in finding a community in ALA to become involved with ALCTS; join discussions on an ALCTS e-forum, volunteer for committees, watch some of the Continuing Education Committee’s webinars! There are so many ways to learn more about ALCTS and to become involved. My experience in ALCTS has been successful, and has helped me to lean into goals I didn’t have in mind when I was in library school. Working within ALCTS has helped me to become a leader in my areas of expertise and to grow as a professional.