Nina Lindsay, ALSC President, March 2017-June 2018

Nina in front of Oakland Public Library


I grew up in libraries, but not in the way you may be thinking.
When people say, “I grew up in libraries,” it generally calls to mind hours spent as a child.  I certainly used my libraries plenty as a kid, but I didn’t find myself in libraries until I started working in them.  Over the course of my career I’ve become a better librarian and a better citizen by learning from the people I work with and serve everyday.
From my first library job, shelving books in the children’s room at the Berkeley Public Library, I saw first-hand how librarians allowed people to bring their best selves without judgment, regardless of the question or issue being presented.  I saw the public library was, and is, a place that puts people first, above all.  At its best, the public library enables a freedom of the mind that is foundational to social equity.  I’d found my work. 
I am lucky.  With the privilege of a college education and a family friend who lured me to apply for that first civil service exam, little did I know I was setting myself for a career that could be so fun, so rewarding, and so sustaining.  I explored the work with the  Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern CA (ACL), then briefly left my hometown of Oakland CA to complete my Masters in Library Science at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, where I worked at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).   With the support and guidance of librarians from each organization, I found my way to ALSC. Its network and resources have been a touchpoint throughout my career, always pushing me to examine my work. 
I established myself as a librarian back home, at the Oakland Public Library (OPL), where I have remained.  I now have my dream job, as the Children’s Services Coordinator for OPL, where I serve my city through serving its children, whether born here or brought here.  I love the opportunity to work in partnership with other organizations, and to support a team of staff who bring unique strengths and perspectives to the work and share them freely.  And I’m inspired by how staff and community can work together to cultivate and harness the strength of the library as an institution in service of its purpose. This work is a constant challenge, and thrill. 
Books have always been special for me.  I’ve always had them, and always had access to them. Reading makes me feel powerful.  I work to bring that same power to children through libraries, through whatever device or experience can enable it. Because everyone deserves to grow up in libraries.