As I write this, my last ALSC Matters President’s column, I’d like to take some time to ponder on the peculiarities of my year as ALSC President and on the expectations that come with the excitement of returning to in-person meetings, events, and conferences.
After the unpredictability brought on by the surge of the COVID pandemic in 2020-21, which prompted the reinvention of every aspect of our practice and operation, it was reassuring to enter 2021-22 in full virtual gear. While resuming in-person events remained an elusive possibility throughout the year, having the virtual framework in place facilitated our work and the achievement of goals and objectives.
In the words of Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are A-Changing,” in today’s rapidly changing world, ALSC continues to evolve as new challenges come our way. The virtual 2022 Youth Media Awards announcements event was followed by the Newbery Coffee Klatch, an informal get-together of the 2022 Newbery medalist and honorees to celebrate their wins and the Award. This informal event extended the joy of celebrating with the authors as part of the yearlong activities planned by the Newbery 100th Anniversary Celebration Task Force.
Another of this year’s many accomplishments was the creative adaptation of the Morris Seminar to a virtual format. Every Friday in February 2022, participants gathered virtually to learn together about children's media evaluation techniques. Moving forward, the biennial Bill Morris: Book Evaluation Training will precede the ALSC National Institute. Applications for the 2022 Bill Morris Seminar: Book Evaluation Training are open!
An aftereffect of the pandemic was the unavoidable realization that summer and out-of-school time have an urgent place in the conversation of libraries equitably serving youth. In November 2021, I had the opportunity to join members of ALSC’s Summer & Out of School Time Task Force to debut the Learning Beyond: 21st Century Summer and Out of School Time Programs for Youth Toolkit at the National Summer Learning Association’s Annual Conference. This toolkit provides valuable data and practical guidelines for structuring a summer learning program centered on equity.
As I prepare for our first in-person event since early 2020, I must say that I will not miss squinting at the tiny squares on Zoom meeting screens, trying to capture everyone’s expressions and comments, all while following the endlessly scrolling chats. Yet, even though we all agree that “there is nothing like in-person meetings,” virtual meetings allowed us to expand our reach and bring new members into the fold. Travel and finances became less of a barrier, and there is certainly value in continuing some virtual elements in conjunction with in-person events. Plus, I appreciate that these virtual meetings allowed me to get to know so many of my colleagues’ good-looking pets and to visit their homes or places of work.
Looking forward, I can’t wait to see everyone in person at the 2022 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. There will be a great line-up of events and programs for those who are planning to travel. Please make sure to check out information on the annual Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet and the Newbery 100th celebratory events and products, the Pura Belpré Celebración, and the amazing ALSC education programs that members will be presenting.
I am also delighted to share that the 2022 Charlemae Rollins President’s Program, Boundaries Be Gone! Using Stories to Intersect and Connect, will feature authors, illustrators, and librarians addressing how they break boundaries with their own voices, using their specific skills to promote connections. Guest speakers include David Bowles, Dr. Cora Dunkley, and Michaela Goade. I am grateful to Sandra Rios Balderrama and Alicia Long, co-chairs, for their vision and their labor of love.
The end of my year as President, thankfully, looks nothing like the beginning. As the world awakens, and we return to a new sense of normalcy, I’m grateful for the lessons learned and the creativity our limitations unleashed. I’m looking forward to seeing how so many of you will use the new strategies and tools we’ve developed over the last two years to expand the role of libraries in our communities and continue to evolve the profession of children’s librarianship.
Kudos first go to ALSC staff, leadership, and volunteer members for their vision and resourcefulness that allowed for the rapid transition of the organization’s business, programs, and events to a virtual format. And kudos again, for their ongoing preparations to return to in-person work this summer and beyond.
My immense gratitude goes out to the ALSC member volunteers, staff, fellow members of the Board, and to all for the support and encouragement you have provided me throughout the year. I am humbled and forever honored to have served as president of ALSC, the oldest and largest organization in the world dedicated to library services to children.—Lucia Gonzalez, ALSC President, 2021-22
I love the renewal of energy that comes with spring. This year, the energy of rejuvenation and revitalization that I’m feeling is not just about the anticipation of spending more time outside or of being able to gather again in person. The thing that has me most invigorated at the moment is unique to the vice-presidential role for ALSC: being the appointing officer, or the person responsible for appointing members to all of ALSC’s committees.
Springtime in ALSC is time for process committee appointments—the committees that conduct and direct the majority of association activity outside of our awards program. I know from personal experience just how much committee service can transform your career and your experience of being a member. I have had the privilege of serving on a number of ALSC process committees during my tenure as a member, and I’ve learned something valuable—about myself, our association, and applicable to my career—every step of the way.
When I served on the committee responsible for administering ALSC grants—currently called the Programs and Services Recognition Committee—I learned about the work of ALSC while reviewing grant applications, and I also had first-hand exposure to best practices for writing compelling grant applications. That’s a skill that I’ve carried with me since. When I served on the committee now known as the Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee, I got to collaborate with fellow library folks to start the work that ultimately became the Championing Children’s Services toolkit–an invaluable tool for library advocacy. And when I sat on the Budget Committee, I learned so much not only about ALSC’s finances, but about library finances more generally. That knowledge and experience helped to prepare me for the department manager role I now hold at my library.
I do not intend for this column to be a narrative of my ALSC resume—rather, it’s me extending an invitation to explore all of the many opportunities that await ALSC members who are interested in process committee service. Are you looking to meet colleagues across the continent who share a passion for library service to children? An ALSC committee is a great way to make connections forged through collaboration and meaningful work. Are you looking to build your skills in an area that you don’t get to exercise in the course of your job? An ALSC committee is an opportunity to acquire and practice the skills that can support you in your current work as well as your career aspirations. Are you looking to learn more about library best practices? An ALSC committee is an opportunity to explore current practice and research with your fellow committee members, and to share those widely with your colleagues. Are you looking to contribute to the health and development of our professional association—to give back and nurture new generations of library workers? An ALSC committee is an opportunity to share your knowledge and skills for the benefit of all of us.
Now is a perfect time to express your interest in ALSC process committees in particular by submitting your volunteer form (log in with your ALA credentials to fill it out!). While the majority of process committee appointments happen by mid-June, committee vacancies that arise throughout the year are filled as they come up—which means it’s always a good idea to have a current volunteer form on file with ALSC. Not sure what committees might be a good fit for you? Take a look at this handy “What Does That ALSC Committee Do?” page and explore your options! And if your interest is particularly in our awards committees—media awards and notables—hold tight; those are coming this autumn.
Serving as the appointing officer for ALSC is the responsibility I’ve most been looking forward to since being elected last spring. I’m especially excited to be piloting an appointments advisory working group as well—a small group of ALSC member leaders who are assisting in making process committee appointments, ensuring that interested members are connected with committee service opportunities and that committees have what they need to be successful. As we make these appointments, we’re also working on formalizing the process of having an appointments advisory working group so that it becomes an established practice for future appointing officers—just as many hands make for light work, many brains make for great connections and ideas.
I know firsthand how committee service can grow your network, your skills, your connection to ALSC, and your career. I am really, really excited to be able to extend those opportunities to my fellow ALSC members this year. I look forward to your volunteer form submissions!—Amy Koester, ALSC Vice President, 2021-22
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