Ways to Involve Students and New Librarians in ALA
We need to encourage and inspire library students and new librarians to join ALA and participate in its activities. When I was a library student at Simmons, the Dean, Tom Galvin, emphasized the importance of service to the profession through ALA. He introduced me to ALA, and I credit him as a major influence in my decision to join ALA early in my career and become active immediately. Today, we have 58 ALA Student Chapters, providing a way for people new to the profession to become involved even before they receive their degrees. http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/affiliates/chapters/student/studentchapters1.cfm – contact
My first experience in this campaign with a MLIS student was Jim Holmes, who works at the Reed College Library here in Portland and is a student in the Emporia State Program. Jim volunteered to set up my website and did a fabulous job. A thank you to him is posted separately. Jim encouraged me to get in touch with other Emporia students, and I am delighted to say that a couple of them will be helping me at the Public Library Association Conference here in Portland later this month.
As a presidential candidate at Midwinter 2010, I thought perhaps I could involve students and new librarians in ALA in unusual, if not unique, ways.
Since I knew I would be making presentations to 40 ALA bodies during the conference, I thought students and new librarians could take advantage of an opportunity to accompany me to my appointments. Two Simmons students and one (relatively) new librarian from Utah signed up for “the tour” of ALA. They witnessed the work of a broad range of divisions, committees, roundtables, and caucuses in a first-hand manner that would not have been possible otherwise. They learned of the broad range of fields in the profession and units within ALA to which they could offer service. I also learned from them, as they recounted their observations while we walked from meeting to meeting.
I also needed to staff a campaign table throughout the conference. I thought this would be an opportunity, not only to provide students and new librarians with campaign experience, but to staff the table with one senior librarian and one student or new librarian for each hour. At times, we were able to accomplish this mentoring team arrangement. ALA Past President Professor Loriene Roy was instrumental in recruiting Jon Grass, one of her students at the University of Texas iSchool, to coordinate the staffing of the campaign table. Loriene cranked out over 100 emails to recruit volunteers, and Jon did a terrific job managing and maintaining the staffing schedule. They were the model mentor and student duo that we sought to replicate in the two-person teams assigned to cover the campaign table during the conference.
After the conference, I met with a group of students and faculty at Simmons to discuss current issues in the profession, the role of ALA and its components in the profession and in society, and the importance and benefits of service to the profession afforded through active ALA membership.
Finally, I asked Jon Grass to write a post for this blog about his experiences at Midwinter that could be shared with a wider audience, particularly fellow library students. So, in the next post for this blog, you’ll find his thoughts. For the more “seasoned” readers of this blog, I can’t resist saying …”H-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-rs, Jonny!”