ALA President-Elect Candidate: Courtney Young
Courtney, tell us a little about yourself…
I am currently head librarian at the Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus, where I provide reference service, course-related instruction, collection development, as well as being responsible for all operations of the library including operations, budget, and managing staff. I received my BA in English, with minors in Women's Studies and Black Studies, from The College of Wooster, and my MS in Library Science from Simmons College. I have worked at Penn State's Beaver and University Park campuses, as well as at Michigan State University and Ohio State University.
What was your path to leadership within ALA?
I got my start by serving on committees in ACRL and NMRT. In ACRL, I served on a Women's Studies Section committee and two African-American Studies Librarians Section committees. In NMRT, I served on two committees, chaired two committees, and was elected to the NMRT board as NMRT Councilor (2005-2008) and NMRT President-elect/President/Past President (2008-2011). I was also elected to ALA Council as a Councilor-at-large (2008-2011), making me eligible to be nominated as a candidate for the ALA Executive Board. I was elected to the Executive Board during the 2009 Midwinter Meeting in Denver and served from 2009-2012. I was elected to ALA Council again for 2012-2015.
What was it like for you as a new ALA member?
When I joined ALA in the fall of 2002, I put into it what I wanted to get out of it. It was a little daunting because it is a large organization, but I jumped right in and got to know a lot of great people. I took some risks by going to receptions and committee meetings with people I didn't really know. I took the work seriously, but was also relieved to find out it can also be a lot of fun.
What will you do to improve engagement within ALA for new members?
Increasing communication across the association and membership will go a long way to improve member engagement. I also believe improving awareness of what different units do, and awareness of opportunities, particularly related to career development, will go a long way. I believe that when members, particularly newer members, find their home in the association and where they fit, that results in positive engagement. Also, as a past president of NMRT, I understand our new association members and will continue to give them a strong voice in our association.
What advice do you have for new members who want to get involved in ALA?
Just get involved! Volunteer for a committee. You can choose something that interests you, fits your particular skill set, or is completely new to you and is challenging. Getting involved in ALA is about making connections and growing as a professional. I also recommend participating in a discussion on the NMRT-L list, via ALA Connect, and via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). If you're an LIS student, attend your student chapter's meetings and events. Participate in alumni events if you've graduated. Connect with people who are involved in ALA and ask them for advice and strategies for getting involved. I'm always happy to speak with new members of the association about getting involved and have done so via email, IM (instant messaging), DM (direct messaging), phone, Skype, etc. When you volunteer to do something, do it. Follow-through and good communication are key to having a great experience in any association or organization.
In the information profession world, what is your favorite word or topic?
In the information profession world, what turns you on?
Definitely the people. Our profession is filled with so many smart, creative, curious, and helpful people. I also have the opportunity to work with great people, the majority of them being undergraduates. When I've worked with a student who is doing a research project, and that light bulb goes off because they've found a source they never thought they would find, or all their research for a capstone course assignment comes together, it's the best feeling in the world. My colleagues and customers inspire and motivate me.
What profession other than librarianship would you like to attempt?
I have two passions not related to librarianship: shopping and baking. One of my dream jobs would be a personal shopper with an emphasis on clothing, shoes, and accessories. I love to bake and share those goods with friends and colleagues. I recently brought cookies to the office for my staff. One of them told me, "If this librarian thing doesn't work out for you, I think you would have no problem falling back on your baking skills." I think these passions draw on the same skills I use on a daily basis as a librarian.