by Melissa Cardenas-Dow
Hanna Lee is a new librarian professional and is currently a Youth Services Librarian at the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey. Librarianship is not her first career, however. She spent quite a bit of time as a teacher in middle school and high school and as a student services staff member in a higher education setting.
Of her path to professional librarianship, Hanna writes: “After living in Mozambique for a little bit and volunteering at an international school library there, I finally decided to pursue librarianship. It was something I’d been planning to do since I was an avid library visitor as a child! I went to Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information, started interning at my current library, graduated in May 2013, and started working full-time there that August. I’m very, very lucky to be at a wonderful library with an incredibly engaged community.
Hanna is also a new APALA member, having just joined our association in the summer of 2013. Of her involvement, she writes: “I joined APALA last summer to get connected to other APA librarians. Having grown up in a predominantly [racially] white Midwestern suburb, and then having spent the majority of my adult life prior to now in largely black urban environments, I see APALA as a great way to join a larger community of people/librarians with whom I have some specific shared experiences. The website, the emails, and the community at large have been huge resources for me already, even if I haven’t yet become as active within the organization as I would like. This year, I was particularly glad to be a member of APALA during the robust discussion following BCALA’s statement regarding the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. It’s heartening to be a part of a body of thoughtful professionals who take each other’s concerns seriously.
When asked about her decision to join ALA’s Emerging Leaders program, Hanna’s response: “Since I’m always on the lookout for opportunities for professional growth and enrichment, I learned about the ALA Emerging Leaders program on the ALA website. My library is an extremely supportive place, and we are encouraged to get involved in local and national associations. I was particularly interested in having a chance to meet and work with “emerging leaders” from all over the country and beyond. Since I’m still very new to the profession and ALA, it was really nice to have a more structured, intimate introduction to all of this.
For Hanna’s ALA-EL project, she worked with Team E to develop a calculator that can quantitatively translate the value of local youth-oriented services and programs. Team E’s project is sponsored by ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children). Of this project, Hanna writes: “ALSC charged my group to create a library value calculator for youth services. Basically, an online form that calculates a library’s value based on usage, like this one on ALA’s website: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/toolkit/makingthecase/
library_calculator. Except just specifically focused on youth services.
This project was intended to be of use to librarians in underserved communities who may benefit from such a tool when advocating for maintaining or increasing services. The more research our group did, though, the more we started to think that this project could not actually be accurate or helpful, since value calculators rely on a very simple return on investment model that fails to take into account the many complex, social benefits of library youth services.
So instead, we offered a glimpse into some of the other valuation methods being used in other areas—public libraries at large, school libraries, museums and other non-profits—and recommended that ALSC continue this project with a task force and future Emerging Leader teams. At the Annual Conference 2014, the ALSC Executive Board told us that they have decided to move forward with our recommendations, which was very exciting.
The ALA Emerging Leaders program is a great way for participants to become more involved with ALA, the professional library organization in the United States, and its affiliate organizations. When asked what she recommends aspiring ELs do to apply and participate in the program, especially those who may be interested but reluctant, Hanna has this to say: “Do it! It’s a great way to get connected to passionate people and a wealth of resources, quickly. I would also encourage incoming Emerging Leaders to take some care in the selection of their project, if possible. The ALSC staff liaison and member guide on my project both went above and beyond, which made a huge difference in my experience. It also seems that the program leaders are truly interested in the feedback of participants (for example, they’ve made the cohorts much smaller, which was a hugely positive change), and I think the program is just going to continue to get better and better.
Thank you, Hanna, for sharing your great insight. We hope APALA members are encouraged to take part in the Emerging Leaders program.
Editing by Jaena Rae Cabrera.