My Jeffersonian Journey #2

My Jeffersonian Journey #2

My Journey (Part 2) – Leadership, Professional Development and Service



The Thanksgiving holiday gives us all cause for introspection. As I contemplate my many blessings during this holiday season, I am thankful to have had opportunities to grow professionally within ALA. I feel fortunate to be an active member of an association that values developing library workers. Although library school provides theory, just like Law and Medicine, Librarianship must be practiced for one to be proficient. ALA has always sought to provide opportunities to practice and continuously learn about librarianship, even when the opportunities may not exist at one’s home institution.

When I served as an ALA Executive Board member, I consistently advocated and supported new possibilities to provide opportunities for growth to our members. In that pursuit, I advocated to invest in our IT infrastructure to enable ALA to increase remote access to professional development opportunities, such as webinars. I continue to support ALA programs that provide opportunities to develop leadership, such as the ALA Emerging Leaders program, ALA Leadership Development program as well as the many scholarship opportunities that allow our members to attend conferences, such as the EBSCO conference scholarship, which I had the honor of chairing for six years.  

ALA also provides the opportunity to develop leadership skills by enabling participation on committees and task forces as well as providing opportunities to network and meet other library workers who are equally committed to service in libraries. The vibrant and talented membership is ALA’s greatest asset.  As such, my vision for ALA is to strengthen the image of library workers as leaders of the institutions we serve by developing communities of practice at our annual and midwinter conferences—such a space would allow library workers to nurture new knowledge, stimulate innovation and learn from each other in an environment that is not bound by library type but cemented by commitment to service in libraries.

I am thankful to be able to serve the American people in one of the most unique and rewarding library jobs in the world: leading a team of librarians that provide information analysis to our national legislature. In addition to my team and with the help of my fellow ALA colleagues, I serve alongside some of the most knowledgeable and talented library workers in the world.

Thomas Jefferson, the Nation’s third President, who ceded his personal library to Congress to replace the one destroyed by the British during the War of 1812, once observed:  “Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often it is their only capital.” 

I offer a modest addendum to Thomas Jefferson’s observation—if books constitute capital, then libraries and library workers represent the keys to life’s endless possibility of treasures. It would be my great honor to continue to serve you, and this time, as your ALA President.


There will be a follow-up blog (2.1) which will explore my family’s connection to Thomas Jefferson…Stay tuned!


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