The ALA Midwinter Meeting also marked the start of my Emerging Leader Year (rather, half-year; the program concludes for me at Annual in June) with an all-day workshop on Friday, January 7. This workshop gave me insight into the organizational and governance structures of ALA (finally, I know the difference between a Division, a Round Table, a Committee, and an Interest Group!), an overview of the Emerging Leader program, and thoughtful discussion on leadership.
It was the last of these items that interested me most. Coming from the corporate world (specifically, the legal profession) I wondered if my views on leadership differed from my peers who have established careers in libraries and related public professions—namely, if there were attributes present in librarianship that one might not see in the corporate world. Fortunately, there is much overlap! Leadership traits like communication, trust, empathy, accountability, and inspiration—among many others—find equal weight in public and private sectors. I left my long day of work inspired, refreshed, and ready to get started on our team project: a collection development policy for video game collections.
The day also gave each group time to meet their team leaders and mentors in person. With Facebook and other social networking materials, we already knew each other on a superficial level, but face-to-face time discussing our projects and engaging in general conversation establishes necessary rapport. You’re going to be working together on a project for approximately six months; it’s very important that everyone do his or her best to get off on the right foot!
The rest of Midwinter was nothing short of enjoyable. The warm weather—warm comparable to my home in the Northeast—added to the camaraderie and free exchange of ideas. I learned about video games in libraries, transliteracy, emerging technologies, Library of Congress initiatives with linked data, new products and services from our partner vendors—including my own employer, JSTOR—and thanks to Twitter, attended the ALTAFF Gala Authors’ Tea!
I also had the opportunity to sit in on the RUSA Board Meeting monitoring their chat rooms for questions and ideas during the Town Hall portion of the meeting. As travel budgets shrink, virtual participation like this will be necessary to keep membership engaged, and I certainly hope RUSA continues to use chat rooms at future meetings and panels.
It was after I returned home to New Jersey (on time, one of the lucky ones—too many colleagues and friends were stuck in San Diego for a few extra days thanks to nasty weather!) that the real work as an Emerging Leader began. Our group has six months to write a draft collection development policy for video games, prepare a sample MARC record, and draft a “core collection” of video games for libraries wanting to start their own collection. I chose the project for several reasons—a chance to produce a deliverable that will serve the greatest population of members, experience in collection development (I assisted my school’s collection development course for two years), a desire to learn more about video games, and the chance to work with amazing mentors and friends who are on the forefront of video gaming in libraries (two of our mentors, Justin Hoenke and JP Porcaro, founded 8bitlibrary.com, a website and blog devoted to spreading the word about video games and librarianship). Our group is in the data-gathering stage right now, soliciting information from public, academic, and K-12 libraries on their collections. If you have video game collection in your library and have some time to answer questions, please contact me via one of the email addresses listed below. We’ll be presenting our work at the Annual Conference on Friday, June 24, and I invite all RUSA members to stop by and view all the Emerging Leader projects.
I hope all my fellow RUSA members have a wonderful snowstorm-free rest of the winter, a good winter semester/quarter (if you’re an academic librarian), and I look forward to seeing everyone in New Orleans this June.