Leaders Emerging

July 5, 2010

One of the great pleasures of attending the 2010 American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Washington, D.C. last week was seeing Emerging Leaders Program participants display and discuss the year-long projects they completed.

Projects on view during a two-hour poster session held on Friday, June 25 in the Washington Convention Center showed a great amount of planning, creativity, and practical application. Among the topics were web-based leadership development; a free-links project “to identify and select free web-based tutorials and professional development information for librarians in other countries to access via the Internet,” with the links being posted on a wiki; a survey of ALA members to determine how interested they were in having the Association adapt Web 2.0 tools into its new content management system;  and revising and updating an online staff development resource center so that individuals and organizations can “share policies, manuals, materials, and other information related to library staff development,” according to printed material distributed  by members of the Emerging Leaders group that completed that project.

Two projects which quickly caught my attention were sponsored by the ALA Learning Round Table (formerly CLENE), an ALA group which serves as an online and conference-level home away from home for me and many others involved in workplace learning and performance. The first, providing a recipe for planning successful staff day activities, drew from responses provided by nearly 600 ALA members and resulted in creation of a wiki which includes a variety of resources for those interested in developing their own staff day successes and a short video documenting their work. The second, creating and documenting the process of offering a sustainable webinar series for workplace learning and performance professionals in libraries, provides information for others interested in developing a similar series and is also described in two separate short online videos.

There really wasn’t a bad project among the more than 20 that were on display, and it’s a credit to those who each year facilitate this dynamic project for library staff members who are either under 35 years old or who have fewer than five years of experience working at a professional or paraprofessional level within libraries.

What was somewhat surprising to me was how few of the sponsoring ALA divisions and round tables actually had members onsite to work alongside the Emerging Leaders during their presentations. Discussions with program participants provided food for thought: although they were tremendously grateful for the opportunities they had under the Emerging Leaders program, many of them said they had not been approached about becoming members of the groups, were not sure whether they would continue their relationships with the groups which sponsored their projects, and wished they had been able to work alongside members of those sponsoring organizations during the  two-hour session on June 25—a clear call to action for those of us who want to support the efforts of these and the other emerging leaders in our lives.

The Spirit of Volunteerism (2nd of 3): Lori Reed

June 4, 2009


In writing about Librarian in Black Sarah Houghton-Jan and her decision to volunteer personal information about herself in the hope that it would make a positive difference for others, I was struck by the spirit of volunteerism which seems almost genetically imbedded into the trainer-teacher-learners I know.

There’s a willingness among them take risks; reveal personal details which contribute something meaningful to other learners; and ungrudgingly volunteer time and effort to support an incredibly large and significant number of projects, endeavors, and causes which make their—our—onsite and online communities better places than they otherwise would be.

Reading Sarah’s revelations about the health challenges she and others with Ehlers-Danlos-Syndrome face and knowing that she will do whatever she can to help others, I immediately thought of another friend-colleague-associate who is an equally committed trainer-teacher-learner with an incredible penchant for volunteerism: Lori Reed, the Employee Learning & Development Coordinator for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, a blogger whose work is highly admired and frequently read, and a volunteer who is active in the American Library Association’s training group (CLENE—soon to become LEARNING) and the American Society for Training & Development.

And, like Sarah, she faces challenges—in Lori’s case, a diagnosis of “a form of muscular dystrophy called charcot-marie-tooth disease,” which she disclosed in a blog posting in October 2008.

Neither Sarah nor Lori have spent much time talking about their conditions; each chose to make those revelations in one-time postings to help others learn something important. And then they have moved on.  Because they are far too busy volunteering and being paid to make significant contributions to libraries and those who use them. To training-teaching-learning. And many other causes to which they give themselves heart and mind and soul.

Lori, for example, currently serves as Co-VP of Membership on the board of directors for the ASTD Charlotte Chapter. She also frequently volunteers to speak at more conferences than most of us will attend in a lifetime; is a frequent presenter on webcasts and webinars; writes for publication; and maintains her Library Trainer blog and LibraryLearning Google group which provide our community of learners with additional virtual meeting places to exchange ideas and become better at what we do.

If you’re at all interested or active in training, teaching, and learning—particularly in libraries—you’re going to find Lori and Sarah at the center of the world where workplace learning and performance professionals meet. And, in the spirit of volunteerism which each so clearly and effectively displays, Lori and Sarah won’t be there as self-aggrandizing rock stars, but as passionate movers and shakers, as Library Journal acknowledged this year. Through words and deeds, they help keep the rest of us alive. Awake. And inspired.

Next: The Spirit of Volunteerism—The One Who Got Away

%d bloggers like this: