Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ALA Recap: Emerging Leaders

Photo by David Paul Ohmer
We will emerge and lead you!

The whole reason I got to go to ALA Midwinter was because I was accepted into the 2011 Class of Emerging Leaders, a program designed to give young and new librarians a leg up into committee work and getting involved with ALA.  I was more than a little intimidated to join this group of talented, passionate people, but to my huge relief everyone was incredibly nice and genuine.

The fantastic Dre organized a massive dinner Thursday night, which was a really great chance to meet people in the group and talk.  We went to Rama, a Thai restaurant located near the convention center.  Not only was the food fabulous, but the restaurant employees were very friendly and super accommodating!  For future Emerging Leaders, if you can con someone into organizing a pre-conference get-together, I highly recommend it.  It definitely took the edge off meeting so many new people at once!

Friday, we were up early for a day of leadership training and networking. We heard from Peter Bromberg, the Assistant Director of the program, about what we'd be doing and then Leslie Burger, chair of the ALA's Public Awareness Committee, talked about the organization of ALA, its mission, etc.

One thing Leslie talked about was that ALA is an organization in which you get out of it what you put into it.  It's up to each person to create the ALA experience that he or she wants to have.  She also emphasized that ALA is a democratic, member-driven organization.  They want to listen to what their members want, but it's up to us to make sure our voices are heard!

Divisions exist to narrow the focus of "big ALA" and make the organization more relevant to your work (but it would be impossible for those divisions to exist without the umbrella of "big ALA" supporting them).  Leslie said that part of the work of ALA is to "continually reinvent itself", so it's up to us to change it and make it support the work we do.

This is part of why the Emerging Leaders program exists - to get new voices in the organization!

We also heard from Maureen Sullivan on leadership, Molly Raphael (ALA's president-elect), and Jenny Levine on ALA Connect (which seems like it might become a wonderful way to make your voice heard in the organization.  They are open to feedback and constantly trying to improve it!).

In addition to hearing from great speakers, I got a chance to meet and work with my project group.  I am working on Project G and we're working on a model collection development policy for video games.  I will definitely be soliciting some information from any readers who have video game collections at your library, but that'll come in a separate post...

My group is awesome!  There are five of us working on the project and we have wonderful mentors: JP and Justin of 8bit Library and Buffy of The Unquiet Librarian.  Before going to the meeting, I was a little concerned about working on a group project, thinking back to group projects in undergrad and graduate school where quite often I was the one stuck putting everything together because no one else would do any work.  And then it occurred to me that Emerging Leaders is made up of all those people who always put together their group projects.  I think this is going to be a great project to work on and a great group of people to work with.

So, here I am: excited and eager, standing on the threshold of this project.  So far, Emerging Leaders has been an awesome experience.

Now, ask me again in a couple of months and we'll see where we are. ;)

Coming soon: more recaps of ALA!  Stay tuned!!