by Jaena Rae Cabrera
Ariana Sani Hussain is a Children’s Librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library in Washington, D.C. She has been an APALA member since 2011. She currently serves on the Family Literacy Focus Committee, which promotes the Talk Story Program, a joint literacy project between APALA and AILA (American Indian Library Association), and is a member of the Task Force on Library Services to APAs. She has also been part of the 2013-2014 Literature Award Committee for Picture Books.
Ariana was selected as an ALA Emerging Leader for 2014, sponsored by APALA. The ALA Emerging Leaders program is intended to be a leadership development program for new library workers (not necessarily librarians!) who have less than 5 years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional level in a library.
On her time with APALA, Ariana writes: “Joining APALA really correlated with my becoming more involved as a library professional and trying to step up into the role. I also think that it helped being more visible and to see how encouraging and supportive everyone is of each other. I did participate in the mentor program. Angela Boyd was my mentor and she was pretty awesome. I think APALA did a great job following up on our progress and areas of interest, but it also helped to have someone just listen to my concerns and validate my worries, fears and progress.
Previous EL participants, Lessa Pelayo-Lozada and Susan Hoang, offered me help and advice for participation. Springer gave APALA the funds for this year and last year’s ELs, I believe, so I met with our EB and Springer at ALA Midwinter to take photos. Of course, everyone has been very supportive and congratulatory, but because we don’t have a specific APALA project this year, I have not had much interaction with APALA in terms of related projects. Other APALA members involved in this year’s class are Annie Pho, Ray Pun and maybe a few others, but I’m not certain. Unfortunately, there is not too much directed interaction, other than the initial day, between ELs outside of our groups, except through Facebook and other informal connections.
On being an ALA Emerging Leader, she writes: “It actually took me a really long time to decide to apply. A former Emerging Leader and fellow librarian at DC Public Library, Ana Elisa de Campos Salles, spoke highly of the program and recommended that I apply. I am by nature, more of a support player than leader, so the idea of applying for an emerging leaders program was just a little intimidating. Also, the application has questions that delved into previous leadership experiences and assessing one’s strengths and weaknesses. I am notoriously bad at doing these kinds of things! Seeing evidence and recognition of my work makes me happy, but is also a little cringe-worthy.
I was, however, very intrigued about the program and thought that it would help me, not only with long-term goals in the profession, but also in my day-to-day interactions within my system, with administrators, stakeholders and patrons in my library system and local community. I mentioned in my WYN piece for APALA that I felt that I had held back during library school and lost the opportunity to gain really solid professional development opportunities when it came to ALA and leadership in general. I thought that the Emerging Leaders program would offer me the chance to catch up and to develop a stronger skillset, and give me clarity to develop into the kind of leader that I want to be.
The Emerging Leaders program enables selected participants, 50 at most, to participate in problem-solving working groups, working on selected topics that pertain to ALA divisions, chapters and round tables. We learn more about ALA as an organization and serving on committees and task forces. We have participants this year from a variety of organizations from public, academic, school libraries, corporate and even one awesome LIS student who is being sponsored by AILA, and works at a community college/community and tribal facility.
We first meet at Midwinter then work on our projects in a virtual collaborative environment, culminating in a poster session presentation at Annual.
This year’s EL projects are pretty varied and very cool. It was hard to decide on one particular proposal. I am currently in a group working on a project for the Map & Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT). The scope of our project is part marketing and outreach, and part identifying gaps in services, service outreach and possible partnerships. I wanted to do something a little different and a little challenging, and I thought that the project was interesting and would be a good fit. Any mapping or map/GIS related programs that APALA would be interested in? 🙂
I enjoy working and networking with my group members, our coordinator and all the Emerging Leaders. They are all pretty cool people, who have interesting ideas and have done some pretty impressive things so far, and I’m interested to see what greatness they will achieve in the future. EL projects keep us pretty busy, but we also have opportunities to participate in webinars and a few other leadership development exercises.
For anyone considering applying to the EL program, Ariana writes: “I think that there are benefits for students to participate in EL in that it’s a very good opportunity to meet with liaisons to groups and get involved in ALA, but it has been a substantial amount of work (maybe that’s just my committee). I don’t think that students wouldn’t be able to handle the pace, we have students that are participating, but I do feel that it’s a good opportunity for new professionals.
If you’re attending ALA Annual in Las Vegas, meet Ariana and the rest of the 2014 group of ELs at a poster session and reception from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 27 at the Las Vegas Hotel in Pavilion 01. The ELs will showcase their final projects at the poster session.
Editing assistance provided by Raymond Wang.