LIS DREaM logoNext week I’ll be participating in a panel discussion at the LIS DREaM (Developing Research Excellence and Methods) closing conference on the topic of the future of LIS research (tweets on #lis_dream5 if you’re interested in following). I have my own views on this (some of which are in the interview questions I was asked to respond to), but at the conference I’ll be mainly representing the views of the LIS DREaM cadre (i.e. those of us who have attended the LIS DREaM workshops). I’d like to understand other’s views too so if you are part of the LIS DREaM cadre or if you have an interest in LIS research I’d really appreciate it if you could complete this brief survey (all questions optional so you can just complete those you feel are relevant to you):

Thanks very much for your help and hope to see some of you at the conference.

I wanted to share some of what I think will be the highlights of ALA Annual Conference 2012 for me and why they’re going to be so great (Disclaimer: I may be slightly biased about some of these!)

Association Options Fair

I’ve been working with the task force (as part of my Emerging Leaders project) to help organise this session to introduce people to how they can get involved in ALA. It’s part of ALA President Molly Raphael’s “Empowering Diverse Voices” diversity leadership initiative. There’s a full press release available online, but to give a brief overview:

The Association Options Fair was developed to address one of the most essential steps towards leadership development — exposure to the leadership and involvement opportunities that are available to you.  Attendees will have an opportunity to network with Association, Division, Round Table and Affiliate representatives to discuss volunteer and leadership engagement opportunities.  By shedding light on the many volunteer opportunities available throughout the Association, it is hoped that more members can become engaged and benefit from the experiences available through involvement in the association.

It’s on Sunday at 1.30-3.30pm at Anaheim Marriott (Grand Salon E & F) and you can add it to your schedule.


Continuing what we started at ALA Midwinter, Kate Kosturski and myself (along with Tina Coleman and Jenny Levine who have helped make it happen), will be hosting a CraftCon in the Networking Uncommons area. The conference can be so exhausting that it’s good to take some downtime and what better way than to do some crafty activities. We’ll be there with cross stitch and knitting supplies (and you are very welcome to bring along your own projects to work on). It’s on Saturday and Sunday 12-1.30pm in the Networking Uncommons.

There’s also been some interest in visiting a local yarn store on the Monday afternoon (which I would love to do!) so please let me know if you’re interested in that – there’s a discussion in the Fiberbrarians group in Ravelry.

Emerging Leaders Day

I loved the Emerging Leaders Day at ALA Midwinter and I’m sure Annual’s will be excellent too. I’m really looking forward to seeing my project team members again and presenting our poster – you can come visit our posters at the Convention Center on Friday 3-4pm – add to your schedule. My team will also be giving an update at the NMRT Executive Board meeting which will be an opportunity to start people thinking about potential ways forward for a Professional Options Fair/Association Options Fair (if it’s decided to be a useful thing).

Jodi Picoult

I’ve been a fan of Jodi’s writing for a long time and am really hoping I get chance to go along to see her speak (with her daughter Samantha Van Leer who I believe she collaborated with for her latest book). At Midwinter I went to Susan Cain’s session and queued up to get a signed book and it was one of the highlights of the conference. I’m not sure if Jodi will have books to sign but I’d love to hear her speak so fingers crossed I can make it (it’s straight after another commitment so might involve some running!). It’s in the Convention Center on Sunday 3.30pm-5.30pm – add to your schedule.


I was fortunate enough to be able to be a judge at Battledecks last ALA Annual Conference and I’m really looking forward to going along as an audience member this time. It was a whole lot of fun last time and I’m sure this year’s will be too. It’s on Monday evening 5.30-7pm at the Convention Centre – view it in the scheduler.

The venue

Although it’s been great to visit New Orleans and Dallas, this is the one I’m most looking forward to in terms of venue. California is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and I absolutely love anything Disney. It should be easier for me to find places to eat this time round (from my initial investigations anyway – if you have dietary requirements check out this Google Doc and Google map of alternative dining options). After hotel problems at both previous ALA conferences, I’m particularly looking forward to Disney’s customer service – if it’s anywhere near as good as it was in Florida I’m going to be very happy (fingers crossed!). I’m even able to have gluten free Mickey Mouse waffles and gluten free pancakes! I really wish I could go to the LearnRT pre-conference on Disney’s customer service to learn more about the way they implement it but unfortunately it clashes with Emerging Leaders Day.

The people

I’ve saved the best till last. In addition to yet more fangirl moments (so many role models to meet!), I’m excited about meeting up with some of the great friends I’ve made from previous conferences. Many of the people I met at Annual last year weren’t at Midwinter so it will be great to see them again. Lots of dinners and drinks to add to my schedule – I’ll be exhausted but it will be so worth it!

If you’re going to ALA Annual Conference, I hope I get chance to see you – you can view my schedule at

Emerging Leaders

My time as an ALA Emerging Leader is almost coming to end as we’re in the countdown to the ALA Annual Conference 2012. It’s been such a great experience and I’d like to share some thoughts.

What is ALA Emerging Leaders?

According to the official website:

American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders (EL) program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. It puts participants on the fast track to ALA committee volunteerism as well as other professional library-related organizations.

It was established by a past president of ALA and has been running every year since 2007, following an initiative of Immediate Past President Leslie Burger.

There are a few main components to participation:

  1. Attendance at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual Conference
  2. Leadership training at both conferences and between the two (we’ve been set a reading and have had a webinar)
  3. Project work with one of the divisions/round tables within ALA (in a project team of usually 4-5 people plus a project mentor and a member of ALA staff), culminating in a poster presentation at ALA Annual Conference

My story

Welcome Emerging Leaders

Welcome Emerging Leaders at workshop

It all began at ALA Annual 2011 Conference when I spoke to many Emerging Leaders who thoroughly recommended it and encouraged me to apply. Being a non-US citizen, I wasn’t sure if I would be eligible but I did some digging and no one could see why I wouldn’t be, so in the ethos of ‘making it happen’ I sought approval from my manager and sent off my application. I wasn’t really expecting anything from it so I was delighted when I discovered I had been chosen as one of the 2012 Emerging Leaders.

Then came the financial hurdle of getting myself to two ALA conferences. I wasn’t offered sponsorship by any of the divisions/round tables so I decided to apply for other sources of funding. Some I wasn’t eligible for as I’m not based in US, but I was successful in my application for an EBSCO Scholarships for ALA Midwinter and my employer is covering costs for ALA Annual. If you’re looking for funding to support attendance at an ALA conference here are some of the sources I would recommend looking into:

It was a bit of a gamble to apply for Emerging Leaders before securing funding, but sometimes a gamble is worth taking. I knew I may have to pocket some or all of it myself, and fortunately it’s been less than it might have been without successful funding applications and a supportive employer but you do have to bear in mind that it may cost you a fair bit (but it’s worth every penny!).

As Emerging Leaders you are given a full list of projects to rank according to how interested you are in working on them. I found it really difficult to choose so devised a spreadsheet to rate them all on various aspects to get my overall rankings. Fortunately, I got my first choice – working with New Members Round Table (NMRT) to investigate the feasibility of a Professional Options Fair at ALA Annual Conferences to introduce attendees to the different groups within ALA (it’s a huge organisation!). Along with my project team (who are all awesome) and our mentor, Janel (NMRT President-Elect), we’ve been working over the last few months to investigate whether this idea is feasible. During the project however, it became clear that things might happen sooner than expected, and we’ve been working with a presidential task force to offer an Association Options Fair for Annual Conference 2012 (if you’re attending Annual and would like to learn more about ALA’s divisions and round tables and opportunities for getting involved, come along – here’s the press release and you can add it to your schedule).

To give you an idea of the sort of scale of an Emerging Leader project, ours has involved:

My team's tower from team building exercise

My team's tower from team building exercise

  • A handful of online meetings – initially monthly but we added some based on specific deadlines/activities
  • An online survey – we used SurveyMonkey and had around 20 questions. We sent personal invites to representatives from each of the divisions and round tables, and each of us analysed part of the results.
  • A brief email survey to previous attendees of a similar Professional Options fair (for Spectrum Scholars)
  • A project report – we worked collaboratively on this
  • A conference poster – we split this to each produce one section of the poster display
  • Work on the upcoming Association Options Fair including an invitation, promotion, an activity for during the fair, and measures of evaluation
  • A set of recommendations for future based on our research and work with the task force
  • Oh, and a tower made of straws!

This is the first time I think I’ve ever been set a group assignment of any sort that has worked successfully. We’ve all been involved at every stage of the process, and we’ve shared responsibility throughout, playing to our own individual strengths (no one passing the buck or leaving it to everyone else). We’ve all been driven to do this to the best of our abilities and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.

Should I apply?

I really can’t recommend the program highly enough, it’s been a fantastic experience and I’m going to miss it when it’s over. If you meet the selection criteria and are wondering whether to apply or not ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I want to learn more about the American Library Association as an organisation?
  2. Do I want to attend ALA Midwinter Conference (focus on committee work, meetings and discussions groups) and ALA Annual Conference (focus on conference sessions/programs, workshops and exhibition)?
  3. Can I commit to spending an hour or two a week on project work from January to June?
  4. Do I want to learn more about leadership skills and how I can help ALA and other organisations in future?
  5. Am I prepared to join an ALA committee after Emerging Leaders is over?

If so, then you definitely should apply. Don’t let finances put you off – some applicants are sponsored by a division or round table but as I mentioned before there are other funding options available.

I have really enjoyed being part of such an great group of people – it sounds so cheesy but I really can’t describe the energy in the room when I entered the first training session at ALA Midwinter in January. Everyone is so passionate and enthusiastic and want to use that energy to help make ALA a better organisation for its members. I’m so pleased I found out about this opportunity and that I was chosen as one of this year’s Emerging Leaders – I can’t thank ALA enough for providing me with such a great experience and introducing me to some friends I’m sure I’ll have for a very long time.

Seriously, if you are thinking about applying, just go for it!

Following some discussions at the CILIP in Wales Conference on leadership, there seem to be a number of people interested in reading books/articles on leadership as part of a reading group. I put together a list of any of the works mentioned from the conference and shared it as a Google Document which others have added to (and added their details if they are interested in joining in).

A few people have asked about the Library Leadership Reading Group so here are some FAQs on how I see it working.

Can I join in?

Of course, this is just a group of people interested in reading works on leadership and discussing them with others. If you’d like to be part of that, add your name to the Google Document. I’m setting this up to help encourage me to read some of the interesting books I can’t seem to find time to read, but nothing is set in stone so if you have an idea for making it better please feel free to do so.

What will it involve?

Reading the book/article over a period of time and discussing it on Twitter (or elsewhere if anyone thinks there is a better way to manage it). We’ll be using the hashtag #llrg as that’s nice and short and doesn’t seem to currently be in use for anything else. I’ve set up a public archive of tweets (edited to add v2 and v3 archives), or of course you can set up a saved search to keep track via Twitter or Twitter apps.

It’s really up to you how much you want to join in. I’m a relatively slow reader and I know we’re all busy people so I’m going to start off by allowing around two months for each book and one month if it’s an article. Of course, if the current one doesn’t interest you that’s fine, you can just join in the next one or suggest an alternative.

Can I add a title to the list to read?

Certainly – the Google Document is editable so please feel free to add to the list of resources to read.

What should I read first?

At the time of writing this blog post here are 16 resources on the list so to choose which to begin with I used a random number generator which selected number 12:

This means the first book to read will be Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World by Margaret Wheatley. This was initially published in 1992 and has been updated since (I’m going to read the updated version). If you’d like to join in, please do so. I’m going to set a deadline of the end of July for discussing this, and it’s really up to you how you do that. You might want to write a book review, or jot down some thoughts about the book on your blog, or you might want to discuss via Twitter as you read, or when you’ve finished. I think it would be worthwhile setting a specific time to discuss it to as that seems to work well for other Twitter chats, so I’m going to say 7.30pm (UK time) on July 31st using #llrg tag.

Hope you can join us 🙂