An ACRL-ULS Emerging Leader Looks Back

Author: Tarida Anantachai, Resident Librarian, Syracuse University Libraries

With ALA Midwinter fast approaching, ACRL-ULS will be busy with plenty of meetings and discussion groups (for more information, check out this list of ULS Activities at ALA Midwinter 2014). Midwinter also kicks off another cycle of the Emerging Leaders (EL) Program, bringing together early career professionals from all walks of librarianship as they embark on a series of leadership trainings and a six-month group project, the latter of which is presented at a poster session at the following ALA Annual Conference.

Last year, I was honored be sponsored by ACRL-ULS to take part in the Program, and am still extremely grateful for the amazing experiences and connections that that came as a direct result of it. ALA Midwinter marks the official start of the program, during which ELs engage in interactive workshop discussions on topics related to leadership and collaborative work, and meet their project teammates to initiate the next six months’ worth of work. I was grouped with three incredible academic librarians to collaborate on an ACRL-sponsored project, which (as with a few other EL projects) was actually a continuation of a previous EL team’s work. For this iteration, our specific goals were centered on orienting new and potential ACRL members to their first ALA Annual Conference, as well as to ACRL as an organization. In addition to our eventual poster presentation, my teammates and I led two live pre-conference webinars via Adobe Connect in order to do so. As such, over the course of the next six months we engaged in activities including evaluating the previous EL teams’ contributions, conducting surveys and interviews with our target audience, implementing a communication plan, and, ultimately, producing and assessing our webinars in conjunction with ACRL representatives. My teammates and I worked extremely well together over the course of the six months, staying in close contact with each other and utilizing various virtual platforms to organize our documents and ideas, including e-mail, Google Docs, and even conferencing within Adobe Connect itself. At the same time, we also received incredible support from our team mentor and the ACRL officers involved. It really was a dynamic and collaborative process, and when it finally came time for us to take the stage, I think we all had a lot of fun!

Overall, I think our finished product(s)–not just the poster, webinars, and other deliverables, but also our collective growth throughout the process–was successful. And while most of our EL experience was amongst each other, it is worth mentioning that additional virtual trainings were also provided to the whole EL cohort between the two conferences, further supplementing our continuing education within the Program. Reuniting at ALA Annual after many months of work was rewarding yet bittersweet, as it marked the end of our formal teamwork. Yet as with any collaboration, the connections we made with each other and the other participants were just as valuable and have since been sustained; in fact, we have continued to stay in touch and even discussed working together in other future capacities. Since then, I have also been fortunate to work on some ALA committees, including those within ACRL-ULS; in many ways, I credit the Program for opening doors towards such committee involvement, and in general, for introducing me to so many inspiring and talented colleagues along the way.

I genuinely enjoyed being an EL, and am so excited for the next cohort as they begin their own EL journeys. I was similarly delighted to discover that ACRL-ULS would be generously supporting another participant this year: Nataly Blas, current Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, MLIS graduate of Florida State University, Spectrum Scholar, and all-around fantastic librarian. But for more about her, stay tuned for her forthcoming blog post! ‘Til then, best of luck to her and the rest of the Class of 2014, and we look forward to seeing the amazing things to come as you begin your own “Emergence!”

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