They’re the new faces greeting you at the reference desk, recommending books in the stacks, and experimenting with fresh ideas behind the scenes. These are the library world’s rising stars, the generation that will move, shape, and influence the present and future of the Association and the library profession. These are the American Library Association’s (ALA) Emerging Leaders of 2017.
Initiated in 1997 as a one-year program under former ALA President Mary R. Somerville and revived in 2006 under former ALA President Leslie Burger, Emerging Leaders recognizes the best and brightest new leaders in our industry. It’s open to librarians new to the library profession of any age with fewer than five years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional level.
The program allows participants to get on the fast track to ALA and professional leadership, participate in project-planning groups, network, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and serve the profession in a leadership capacity early in their careers.
At the 2017 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Atlanta, the new Emerging Leaders were divided into groups to complete a project for an ALA unit. The results will be unveiled at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. We joined them in Atlanta and asked them for their thoughts on the future of the library profession.
Host: Public Library Association Project: Advancing Diversity in Public Libraries Team A (from left): Antonio Apodaca, Bethany Wilson, Brian Hulsey, Petra Pendroff, Christina Fuller-Gregory “The future of the library profession is hyperlocal. New leaders bring a rejuvenated focus on community outcomes. Simple, common-sense solutions are key as libraries get comfortable with what their neighborhoods really have to say. Moving forward, a concern for information literacy will be shared across traditionally siloed institutions calling for innovative public–private partnerships. Luckily for us, the secret is out: We know that the needs of the future will encompass the needs of right now. We know that for much of our work, the only difference between today and tomorrow is a number on the calendar.”—Antonio Apodaca Host: American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Project: Advocacy Impact of AASL Every Student Succeeds Act Workshops Team B (from left): Samantha Hull, Melody Townley, Denise Tabscott, Cristin M. Dillard, Melissa Ray, Shannon DeSantis “I see the future of the school library profession becoming more technology- and collaboration-based. Our knowledge must expand past children’s literature to understanding new teaching applications, teaching digital citizenship, finding reliable resources, and providing professional development for our district. We must become the experts to implement and troubleshoot new technology while expanding our libraries as spaces for student collaboration. Future librarians will need to study and adapt to what their districts need while continuing to provide students access to the information and books they need to learn.”—Melissa Ray Host: International Relations Round Table Project: Building and Enhancing Global Connections through Sister Libraries Team C (from left): Stacy Gilbert, Melissa West, Anna Sandelli, Joy Bridwell, Lisa Blake Not pictured: Derek Cornelison “The future of the library profession will be what it has always been: helping people find and use information. However, information is no longer confined to books, primary documents in archives, or newspapers—it can be found on a television show, website, cellphone app, or any number of new media. Librarians’ future roles will be to help people navigate new and emerging information sources and make vast amounts of information useful and accessible.” —Stacy Gilbert Host: Library and Information Technology Association Project: Building Leadership in Virtual Engagement Team D (from left): Catie Sahadath, Jennifer Shimada, Jessica Bennett, Kyle Willis, Brianna Furcron “I suppose I do not see the fundamental nature of librarianship changing. We connect people with information. We will continue to do so regardless of information format or delivery system. From clay tablets to papyrus scrolls to printed books and now to digital books, librarians endure as gateways to an abundance of knowledge.”—Jessica Bennett Host: Chinese American Librarians Association Project CALA-SYS Team E (from left): Nitra Eastby, Jingjing Wu, Kate McNamara, Minhao Jiang “As our relationship with technology and the internet evolves, more people will turn to librarians for advice—whether it is discerning fake news from legitimate sources, learning how to use the latest devices, determining fair use and copyright guidelines, or sifting through growing digitized archives. Library professionals will play a critical role in reimagining the spaces and tools necessary for productivity in our progressively connected society. They are already some of the first people called on to respond as our culture becomes more diverse and collaborative, and they will only continue to take on that responsibility.” —Nitra Eastby Host: Learning Round Table Project: Conference Presentation Guidelines and Review Service Team F (from left): Anneliese Tillmann, Lorelei Rutledge, Jessica Szempruch, Tara Malone, Anastasia Chiu “I hope to see more librarians apply critical and reflective approaches to building a more diverse and inclusive profession and toward shaping inclusive and accessible services for and with patrons. I hope librarians, librarian educators, and library institutions will begin to openly recognize and teach about problematic and painful aspects of our profession’s legacy, such as the way segregation was reflected in library services, and use this awareness to inform the way we build services that reflect the values we espouse.”—Anastasia Chiu Host: Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services Project: Developing a Clearinghouse for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Speakers Team G (from left): Sarah Gough, Mohamed Berray, Priscilla Dickerson, Laurel Johnson, David Kelsey “In the future, the profession will be more focused on enhancing its services by building stronger partnerships with city, state, and national organizations, businesses, and governments. The profession will continue to enhance the customer service experience by strengthening local partnerships that will lead to the design and delivery of exceptional, engaging, and meaningful community programming. The profession will continue to foster inclusion in deed and not merely word and be composed of individuals who are not only diverse in racial and ethnic backgrounds but also highly skilled and trained forward thinkers.” —Priscilla Dickerson Host: Public Library Association Project: More Than Your MLIS: Experience and Continuing Education Recommendations for Emerging Public Library Leaders Team H (from left): Casey McCoy, Heather Thompson, Heather Novotny, Sarah Colombo, Kristin Amsden “Within public libraries, I see the profession moving toward specialization and individualized services. There is already a growing trend toward specialization, especially within the realms of programming and technology. This helps organizations evolve by making use of diverse viewpoints and skills, and helps the communities those organizations serve by offering a variety of talents and interests. Through on-the-fly programming and one-on-one services like Book a Librarian, there is a clear movement toward tailored services to individual needs.”—Sarah Colombo Host: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Roundtable (GLBTRT) Project: GLBTRT Archive Team I (from left): Ariana Santiago, Fobazi M. Ettarh, Lucas McKeever, Andrew Grissom, Stewart Van Cleve “The future of libraries cannot be divorced from the sociopolitical climate of the country. We have elected a president who challenges many of the core values of librarianship. Moving forward, libraries can be places of resistance through their continued mission to serve their diverse communities. Just as libraries opposed the Patriot Act, libraries can resist legislation that would prevent access to information. Just as the Ferguson (Mo.) Municipal Public Library stayed open during crisis, libraries can continue being centers for intellectual freedom, education, and diverse voices and peoples.”—Fobazi M. Ettarh Host: Association for Library Service to Children Project Your Path to Youth Leadership Team J (from left): Christine Gaffney, Sarah Gowdy, Tori Ann Ogawa, Sara White “The future of the library profession is unknown and unpredictable, because the communities we serve are ever-changing. The profession will change and develop concurrently. We will design and re-create our programs, services, collections, and space to make the library a facilitator of learning and growth for everyone. We will be the connection between the people we serve and other community organizations. We will be the place families, friends, and colleagues gather to exchange ideas, play, learn, discover, inquire, and make lasting connections and memories. Library professionals will be change leaders striving to find ways to better communities beyond the physical walls of our libraries.”—Tori Ann Ogawa