ALSC Voices | May 2019

Celebrating colleagues with 25 years or more years of ALSC membership

Rose Dawson, ALSC memberRose Dawson
Executive Director
Alexandria Library, Virginia

ALSC Membership: 26 years

Where did you attend library school?

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

What was your very first library position? 

My first position was a children’s position for the DC Public Library at the Palisades branch in the mid-80s. Palisades Library is located on the other side of Georgetown in Washington, DC. A neighborhood with very little diversity; I was the first African American children’s librarian. 

What do you love most about your current job? 

I think my current job is a perfect fit for me. Based on the wonderful training over the years, this position allows me to use all of those skills. I am able to continue my passion for youth services while utilizing the supervisory and management training I obtained through national, regional, and local conferences. I was once told that the majority of excellent library directors got their start as children’s librarians. Of course, I believe that is possibly a true statement. 

What's your favorite season?

I love the Fall of the year. It is beautiful.  It is a gradual change in temperatures and the foliage. It is a constant reminder that if all change could be handled this well, then it would be a good  thing.

What would you do if you won the lottery? 

I would give 10% to the six churches that have played a role in the development of who I am today. I would then share it with family and a few close friends. I would also establish a foundation and make donations to several universities and libraries in my family’s name.  Finally, I would buy myself one extravagant gift and then invest the money for future generations. 

What was your favorite thing to play with when you were a child?

I loved board games for rainy days but was a real tomboy and loved to play basketball.  Believe it or not, even though I was only 5’2”, I was offered a basketball scholarship when I graduated from high school.

What’s your favorite myth, legend, or fairy tale?

When I took a storytelling class several years ago, we were told to try and use our family genealogy to identify stories that resonated. Growing up in the South, my grandmother read Brer Rabbit stories for bedtime.  Upon doing my research, I was able to see how the characteristics of the spider stories (Anansi) from Africa spun into the Uncle Bouki and Ti Malice stories from Haiti, which resulted in Brer Rabbit. So, my favorite tales are folktales from Africa, the Caribbean, and the South.

What was the single-most influential event in your lifetime?

When I was 14, my father died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 43. One Friday, he went to the hospital for a quick “checkup,” I visited him after church that Sunday, and on Monday when I was coming home from school I saw my mother running to get into the car. I knew something was wrong and when I banged on the car window asking her where she was going she didn’t answer. A couple of hours later, my sister came home to say my dad had died from heart complications.  My mom had six African American kids ranging from five to 19 years of age. Widowed at 38, she made sure the dream they had for their children happened. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that what she had accomplished was phenomenal. Technically, we should have been statistics, growing up in a single family household. However, my mother managed to put us all through school, with her children becoming top professionals ranging from educators, managers, doctors, and a judge. 

I remember my father telling us that all we had in this world was each other. To this day, family means the world to me and I emphasize this with my daughter.

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