ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award Interview: Alanna Aiko Moore

Alanna Aiko Moore was selected as this year’s recipient of the ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award. The $1,000 award and plaque will be presented to Alanna at the ULS reception at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. You can read the entire award announcement, including comments from the award chair,  here.

Congratulations to Alanna, who agreed to answer a few questions for the ULS blog:


Tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do.

 I am the Librarian for Ethnic Studies, Critical Gender Studies and Sociology at the University of California, San Diego.  I work with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty in these departments, and assist with research, teach best practices for utilizing the vast array of resources, outreach and liaise to my departments by attending events and symposiums, and purchase materials in many formats in these disciplines and areas.   I also serve as the Library Liaison to the Campus Community Centers, including the LGBT Resource Center, Cross Cultural Center, Women’s Center, Black Resource Center, Raza Resource Center and the Inter-Tribal Resource Center.


Why is professional development important for the librarian profession?

 Professional development can mean different things to different people.  In many cases, it refers to advancing your own knowledge and furthering your education and can encompass attending lectures by scholars, continuing education through an on-line course or webinar, service on a committee, a training or institute devoted to leadership development skills, or earning advanced degrees or certificates.  Many in the profession also conduct research, publish in the literature, make presentations at local and national conferences and edit journals and other publications in the field.

The library landscape is constantly changing, and requires us to stay abreast of changes in technology as well as trends in scholarship, research and teaching, and the methods in which our users engage with our services.  Professional development allows us to be proactive as our libraries and services continue to transform and respond to user needs.

Personally, I think of professional development in a more humanist way—how can I, while pursuing opportunities that are of interest to me, also positively impact or be of service to others? I also place a higher value on opportunities that build relationships, strengthen community, increase communication and make teams more powerful.  Finally, most importantly, I think professional development is about giving back, and helping others succeed, especially those from traditionally underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.


Tell us about a transformative professional development experience that impacted your career as a librarian.

The Spectrum Scholarship Program recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students.  The program assists individuals obtaining a graduate degree and provides professional development to help increase and retain the number of racially and ethnically diverse professionals leading the field of library and information science.

Attending the Spectrum Leadership Institute as a 2003 Scholar was a transformative experience in breaking the isolation I had felt as a queer woman of color entering the library and information science profession.  Being surrounded and embraced by other professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds and identities reaffirmed that I had made the right decision in choosing to enter this profession as a second career.  The passion that Scholars in that cohort had for social justice and for making change was palatable and invigorating.  Having the opportunity to receive skills based training, to network with seasoned movers and shakers, and to build a Spectrum family that I can call on anytime was life-changing.

Two other leadership institutes also had an incredible impact on my development as a librarian.  The Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups and the Association of Research Libraries Leadership and Career Development Program.  Both provided me with valuable opportunities to reflect and explore my strengths and challenges while introducing me to new concepts, skills and trends in the field by skilled and experienced leaders in the field. I also built strong personal and professional relationships through these institutes.


What are some examples of ways that you have contributed to the professional development of others?

Each year, I volunteer at the Spectrum Scholar Leadership Institute.  I have helped develop curriculum and invite speakers for the three-day event, and for the past seven years, have participated as a featured presenter.  As a 2003 Scholar, I believe in giving back to this vital program, and am incredibly inspired each year when I meet the amazing future leaders of our profession.  I usually develop a relationship with several Scholars, and invite them to contact me anytime for mentoring or career advice.

At UC San Diego, a colleague and I saw a need to help students who wanted to gain real-life experience in an academic library and created an institutional internship program for graduate students in library and information science.  We have had a dozen interns rotate through the program since its inception, and many have gone on to successful careers.

I enjoy mentoring and have served formally as a mentor for the E.J. Josey Spectrum Scholar Mentor Program, the ARL Career Enhancement Program, have informally mentored several graduate students in library and information science, and have recruited many students to the profession.

I have also shared my knowledge through webinar presentations for ACRL, LLAMA, the ALA Office for Diversity and Outreach Services and Emerging Leaders.

My hope is that my presence and involvement in these activities not only gives back to my communities but also raises the visibility of queer librarians of color and helps to build bridges across identities.


What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Hmmm.  I’ll share that one of my first books as a kid was Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, and it is still one of my favorites.

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