Officially Speaking | November 2020

President's Column | Vice President's Column | Thank You for Being a Friend!

A Fall Full of Opportunities from ALSC

Photo of Kirby McCurtisALSC is buzzing with excitement as all of our committees are busy advancing areas of our strategic plan. From advocacy work to learning and development events to diversity and inclusion efforts, we have a lot for which to be proud. 

At the beginning of October, the ALSC Institute successfully explored all three areas of our strategic plan in keynote and breakout sessions, sparking numerous invigorating conversations and unforgettable learning opportunities. This was the first time the event was virtual, and I want to again thank ALSC staff for their work in creating (and then re-creating) a dynamic Institute experience for us all. Congratulations to this year’s Institute Task Force for building an amazing slate of youth service programming: Chair, Sarah Park Dahlen, Mary Dubbs, Clair Dunlap, Paris Kelvakis, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez, and Gretchen Wronka. Although we couldn’t be together in Minneapolis, I for one felt like I experienced some of the city and appreciate the care the Task Force and presenters took in highlighting Minnesota creators and communities. 

ALSC staff is busy preparing for another virtual meeting with the Midwinter event. Stay tuned for details and meeting times in the coming weeks.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force has selected ALSC’s second class of Equity Fellows. Via this fellowship program, ALSC affirms its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion by engaging new generations of racially and ethnically diverse library professionals. Recipients of the EDI Fellowships are Erika Lehtonen, Melissa Stovall, Mai Takahashi, Eboni Dickerson, and Natassia Schulz. Congratulations to all these recipients! If you virtually meet our fellows at Midwinter, please take a moment to give each of them a warm ALSC welcome.        

In October, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) annual conference as the opening keynote speaker. It was a great chance to connect with other professionals committed to early literacy and ensuring all children have access to the most important building blocks. If you are passionate about strengthening children’s literacy through library services and community advocacy, think about joining their organization; membership is free and you don’t have to be in Colorado! Many ALSC members are also members of CLEL and I see a great synergy. We collaborated this summer to create a Virtual Storytime Services Guide to help improve virtual offerings during the pandemic.  

I know that it is hard to continue to have hope during 2020 but know that I am so grateful to each of you for your active participation and community building virtually. 

ALSC Online Learning logoOne of ALSC's goals is to provide children’s librarians with timely, educational, and affordable professional development opportunities. Because life in a library moves fast, ALSC's webinars are the perfect solution for someone who wants and needs educational information but doesn't have a lot of time or resources. These short (one hour), interactive sessions, taking place in Zoom, give librarians and library support staff the opportunity to learn right at their desks. The only necessary tools are a computer and the internet. Live webinars are free and open to all. All webinars are recorded and available in the archived webinars section of our website following the live presentation. Take a look at the upcoming webinars and join us if you are able.  

The Friends of ALSC will be funding the renewal of 50 ALSC and ALA memberships to members who have recently been furloughed, laid off, or otherwise unemployed. COVID-19 disproportionately and negatively impacts communities of color, therefore, these memberships will prioritize individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Prioritizing ALSC's BIPOC members will further support ALSC’s strategic objective of increasing the intentional retention of a diverse membership, while reducing barriers to participation. By supporting these members, ALSC's goal is to honor their contributions and commitment to the organization. Apply here.

ALSC can’t do exciting and innovative things without the help of our members, and it’s important that we give back to you. Every year, more than $100,000 is given away through ALSC's professional awards, grants, and scholarships. Please click on the individual award or grant on the professional awards webpage for application information and apply today! For information about scholarships, please click here.

Thank you for your support; be well and stay connected.—Kirby McCurtis, ALSC President

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Engaged Members Make ALSC Strong

Photo of Lucia GonzalezIn the practice of our profession as children’s librarians we know that, as Lillian Smith once said in her book The Unreluctant Years: A Critical Approach to Children’s Literature (c1953, 1991, American Library Association), “childhood is the most impressionable and formative period, so receptive and so brief that a child has less need of and less time for the mediocre than an adult.” This year 2020 will forever be remembered in children’s librarianship for its unprecedented disruption of every aspect of library services and community life. Most importantly, this year’s lineup of unfortunate and unsettling events has the greatest and most lasting impact on the lives of the most vulnerable, the children. 

A worldwide pandemic closed schools, libraries, places of worship, and businesses while communities everywhere were shattered by social, racial, political, and economic injustices that came to a bottleneck and erupted like an ancient volcano. In the midst of all this, children’s librarians became “first responders” in their efforts to reach out to families and children in their communities, to become media mentors, to provide access to resources and information.    

Throughout this time of transformations and uncertainties, ALSC performed its unifying role by being the platform where children’s library workers meet for the exchange of ideas, information, and best practices via the ALSC blog, ALA Connect, and other means, where these conversations commingle with discussions about organizational restructuring, the Virtual Institute, the Youth Media Awards, diversity and inclusion, and other relevant topics. 
Youth services librarians and library workers are as diverse as the communities we serve. ALSC can speak our languages and show our colors only through our active engagement and participation in the work of the organization.  

Serving on a book award selection committee or a task force is a great opportunity for professional growth and networking. It is an exciting and empowering journey to be part of the national dialog that drives the practice of our profession. As actively engaged members we contribute to defining competencies and best practices, to the selection of the best books or media for children, to creating relevant booklists, and to so much more.  

As children’s librarians, we know the healing power of books. We work for the wellbeing of all the children in all of our communities by connecting them to great books and valuable resources.  

Soon, I will be working on the nominations for the numerous ALSC committees, and I hear that it is a formidable task. Therefore, I would like to request your help in accomplishing this significant task by signing up to volunteer for a committee or task force. Visit ALSC's volunteer page for details and information on the work of committees and task forces, or on how to volunteer. 

I also want to encourage you to recruit new members from amongst your coworkers and colleagues to join ALSC. Membership involvement is crucial to the continued success of the organization. It is important to learn from one another, to speak on behalf of the communities we serve, to work together to create opportunities for training and leadership development.  

The closure of schools and libraries has impacted communities of color in ways that we have not yet measured. How do we serve families with limited resources, with no access to technology, or with limited language skills? How can our libraries reach those most vulnerable during these trying times? These are questions that are part of a national engagement and an ongoing dialog. Much has been accomplished, yet much remains to be done!  

I look forward to working together as we address challenges and projects, and work to shape the present and the future of our ALSC!—Lucia M. Gonzalez, ALSC Vice-President

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Thank You for Being a Friend!

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Many thanks to the following generous contributors to Friends of ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website.

Gold Circle - $500 - $999

Elizabeth Timmins

Silver Circle - $250 to $499

Susan Faust
Marge Loch-Wouters
Jo Schofield

Notables Circle - $100 to $249

Rita Auerbach
Christopher Brown
Kathy Jarombek
April Mazza
Cecilia McGowan
Ellen Riordan
Vicky Smith
Kimberly White
Susan Zeigler

Friends Circle - up to $99

Armin Arethna
Tamela Chambers
Denise Davila
Betsy Diamant-Cohen
Arika Dickens
Robbin Friedman
Lolly Gepson
Dona Helmer
Barbara Klipper
Allison Knight
Leah Langby
Beth McGuire
Sharon Rawlins
Marion Rutsch
Beatriz Wallace

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