ALCTS Questions

ALCTS Questions for ALA Presidential Candidates for 2012-2013

Response: Maureen Sullivan

1. Why did you decide to run for ALA president? If you are elected, what will be your primary focus? What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

This is a time of great opportunity and some risk for libraries, librarians and library staff. While those who fund and govern libraries often ask questions about the value of what we do and how we contribute to our communities, those who use our services and come to our programs know our value and contributions. We must strengthen our ability to make the case and I believe that ALA is the best resource and voice for us on a national level. The new Strategic Plan and its seven key action areas provide an excellent framework for ensuring a vibrant and meaningful future for the profession. My first read of it made me want to pursue this important leadership position.

Another compelling document that influenced my decision to run is the ALA Young Librarians Working Group Final Report and Recommendations (6/11/2010). I have had the privilege of being involved in the ALA Emerging Leaders program from its inception as one of ALA President Leslie Burger’s initiatives. Participants in this program and many other new professionals with whom I have worked in the past five years are eager to contribute to ALA and to the profession. This report lays out a series of short-term and longer-term steps designed to increase the engagement and integration of new professionals. I believe our ability to do this is critical to the future of ALA.

ALA has been a continuing source of enrichment and professional development for me throughout my career. Service as the ALA president for me is the best way to contribute and I am now able to make the time commitment necessary.

My focus will be to build upon the work of recent ALA presidents in the areas of advocacy, diversity and ensuring that libraries and librarians remain vital in a transformed context. My professional work in the past twenty years has been focused on helping libraries to become more effective organizations and developing the leadership capability of librarians and others who work in libraries. As president of ALA I will bring this experience and a deep commitment to strengthening the profession and all who work in it.

I will take the opportunity share my ideas but I very much want the campaign to be a time for me to listen and learn from the many, diverse voices among the ALA membership.

During my term I hope to accomplish the following:

• Continue to guide the implementation of the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

• Provide effective leadership to ALA as a whole and be a strong voice for libraries and how they make a difference in people’s lives

• Foster greater collaboration among ALA divisions and units – focus on common opportunities and aspirations

• Develop an ALA-wide leadership development initiative through a process in which the divisions and other appropriate ALA units would participate

• Find ways to relate to and serve the variety of professionals who seek community within our many divisions

• Engage more new professionals in meaningful ways and retain them as members

• Identify sustainable ways to promote synergies between local government and libraries

• Explore ways to strengthen and extend our international activities

2. Please discuss how your ALA goals and philosophy relate to ALCTS. How might ALCTS help facilitate achievement of those goals?

The more than 5,000 members of ALCTS do some of the most important work in libraries today. This includes the work to develop metadata standards, ensuring that libraries have collections and access to collections that those whom they serve need and want, continuing to provide intellectual access to the ever-expanding world of information and knowledge, and the absolute necessity of preserving information and materials in a variety of formats.

ALCTS members also face some of the more serious challenges as libraries transform in the digital world. ALCTS and its members are dedicated to ALA’s core values, especially those principles that ensure access to information. ALCTS will advance ALA’s goals by continuing to align its goals and plans with those outlined in the Strategic Plan. The commitment and engagement of every ALA division and unit is critical to implementation of the new plan and the overall success of ALA. I think the best way to address this question is through discussion with ALCTS leadership. I am confident that together we can determine meaningful ways for this to happen.

3. What do you see as the greatest challenges facing individuals engaged in the areas of work represented by ALCTS (acquisitions, cataloging, serials, preservation, and collection development) in the near term future? How can ALA assist ALCTS members to meet those challenges?

I believe the greatest challenge is making the transition to the digital context and doing so with confidence and affirmation of the valuable contributions this work has made and will make in the future. We can play a critical stewardship role and collaborate with other professionals and scholars to insure the preservation of data and metadata for scientific, social, and artistic research that will serve future generations.

I believe it is very important for librarians to identify what the critical work activities and roles will be in the future; to explore the different ways in which this work might be performed; to identify the key competencies that will be needed; and to plan how to embrace new roles and educate new and continuing professionals to successfully carry out these responsibilities. ALA can assist by affirming the importance of this work, the need to rethink how it will be performed in the future, and by working with ALCTS to ensure that its members have the opportunities and support for the professional development that is needed.

How can ALA ensure that certain members, whose primary affiliation is to a “type of activity” division, feel connected to the concerns of the organization as a whole? How might their involvement be increased? How might ALA’s awareness of their concerns be increased?

ALA can do this by actively promoting cross-divisional collaboration; continuing to offer programs and services that have broad appeal; offering professional development opportunities that transcend “type of activity” boundaries, engaging division leaders in discussions and decisions that affect the profession as a whole and creating opportunities for “type of activity” members to contribute to ALA- wide initiatives.

5. In recent years it has been difficult for ALCTS members to “see themselves” or to see that the association embraces issues that are critical to ALCTS. What steps will you take to increase ALA’s inclusiveness within its own ranks?

The first step I will take is to work with the newly elected leaders of the divisions to identify ways to promote collaboration and inclusiveness. I will solicit their ideas and opinions and will welcome requests that are specific to the needs of their members. I also will solicit suggestions for committee appointments and will make a special effort to identify committees where the expertise and experience of ALCTS members is important. I will consult ALCTS leadership on those issues that most directly relate to your work and are of importance to you. I welcome your ideas and perspectives.

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