Librarianship is ever changing, and some of the people leading that change are newer members of the profession. They’re the fresh faces greeting patrons at reference desks, helping students with research, and experimenting with new ideas behind the scenes. These are the American Library Association’s (ALA) Emerging Leaders.
Launched 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 profession. It’s open to librarians of any age who are new to the profession and who have fewer than five years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional level.
The program allows participants to get on the fast track at the Association, participate in planning groups, network, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and serve in a leadership capacity early in their careers.
At the 2020 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Philadelphia, the new Emerging Leaders were divided into eight groups to complete projects for their host ALA units and affiliates. We joined them in Philadelphia to ask what the future holds for the profession.
Team A Host: American Association of School Librarians
Project: Developing Reflective Explorers and Innovators
From left: Jamie Becker, Nathalie DeFelice, Jermaine Dennis, Monika Glowacka-Musial, Anna Keating, Jessica Regitano, Nick Weingardt
“I see library professionals working diligently as civic leaders to strengthen the communities they serve, harnessing their role in guiding communities to embrace social responsibility in hopes of creating a better world for future generations.” —Jermaine Dennis
Team B Host: Asian Pacific American Librarians Association
Project: Celebrating 40 Years of Library Leadership and Beyond
From Left: Jessica Agudelo, Dolores Brown, Yi Ding, Jia He, Jamie Kurumaji, Seungyeon Yang-Peace
“I see our profession redefining what the physical space of the library includes and how we can exist beyond our walls to become a truly accessible library for all through community partnerships and creative programming, and as active agents for positive change.”
Team C Host: Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section
Project: Section and Membership Engagement of Diversity and Inclusion
From left: Shelly Black, Patrice Green, Ericka Harris, P. J. Maracle, Amanda Roper, Erin Roper, Isabel Soto-Luna
“I’m hopeful that librarianship continues to move toward embracing social justice and equity in collections, services, and programs. Academic librarians can provide more than sources for a research paper; we can meet students at the intersections of their lived experiences and provide information on community and campus resources.” —Amanda Roper
Team D Host: ACRL University Libraries Section
Project: Early Career Engage-ment: How Does ACRL’s University Libraries Section Need to Evolve to Meet the Needs of a New Generation of Librarians?
from left: Liana Bayne, Matthew Noe, Russel Peterson, Tiffany Raymond, Heather VanDyne
“The future of librarianship is one of urgent collaboration. There are a host of issues that demand attention—climate change, disinformation, a precarious job market, and the consolidation of the publishing industry, to name a few. They deserve a response that involves partnerships across specialties and even beyond our profession.”
Team E Host: International Relations Round Table
Project: International Librarians’ Mentorship Program in Action
From left: Shayla Boyce, Jesse Caldwell, Damiana Fortenberry, Lauren Frazier, Zoë McLaughlin, Erica Saito
“In the future, I hope the myth of the ‘neutral library’ will be set aside, and that we can accept that libraries never have been and never will be impartial spaces.”
Team F Host: Learning Round Table Project: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Staff Development (Phase Two)
From left: Victoria Blackmer, Maria Colish, Teresa Helena Moreno, Jodi Silverman, Franco Vitella, Desmond Wong
“The profession has the potential to embrace a radical futurity where we become more critically self-aware about the institution of libraries and where these critiques bring us to better practices of librarianship—which will also lead to more black, indigenous, and people of color entering and staying in the profession.”
—Teresa Helena Moreno
Team G Host: Library and Information Technology Association
Project: Investing in a Sustainable Division
From Left: Kristen Cooper, Tonya Ferrell, Kelsey Flynn, Laura Mendez, Tonya Ryals, Paige Walker
“As we stand on the brink of a new decade, the possibilities are wide open for the future of libraries. We will continue to move toward the model of the public library as a community and cultural center, offering innovative approaches to learning and creating.”
Team H Host: New Members Round Table
Project: Library Weather Resiliency Clearinghouse
From Left: Lizzy Boden, Victoria Crim, Katherine Dannehl, Jennifer Embree, Rhonda Evans, Kayla Kuni
“The future of the profession will need to approach preservation in a whole new way. In the past, librarians created clipping files and used binding as a means of protecting and preserving information, but moving forward, librarians will learn how to preserve new forms of information, including social media, blog posts, and other born-digital content.”