ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award Interview: Corey Halaychik & Ashley Maynor

Corey Halaychik & Ashley Maynor were selected as the 2018 recipients of the ACRL ULS Outstanding Professional Development Award for development and implementation of The Library Collective. The $1,000 award and plaque will be presented to them at the ULS reception at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. The full award announcement, including comments from the Award Committee chair, is available on the ALA website.

Congratulations to Corey Halaychik & Ashley Maynor, who agreed to do an interview.


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

We’re both practicing librarians from different sides of the profession. Corey’s an expert in contracts, licensing, fundraising, and leadership, and has found himself in a number of library-leadership roles, including his current post as library director at SUNY Maritime College. Ashley’s an expert in storytelling, multimedia, instruction, and event planning and works as Digital Scholarship Librarian for NYU Libraries. We’ve both had jobs and careers outside of libraries and we’ve both worked for a variety of different kinds of libraries (i.e. public, university, community college, etc.).

Part of what went into the making of The Library Collective was trying to imagine a professional development landscape where academic librarians as different as us and working at institutions as different as ours might encounter one another.

Why is professional development important for the librarian profession?

The library landscape is constantly shifting. If we, as library professionals, aren’t learning, adapting, and innovating, then we’re falling behind. We believe in awesome and kickass librarianship, so falling behind is not an option.

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

It was really the lack of transformative experiences that has most impacted us and our careers as librarians. Early in our careers, we went to some of the big and/or well-known conferences for librarians. And we weren’t impressed with the content. Beyond that, we felt that they were inaccessible—too expensive, too big and intimidating, too stale—to actually meet new people or walk away with new skills. And we felt like we were being asked to tithe a big portion of our income just to try to network with colleagues and stay current. So that’s what drove us to create The Library Collective and to offer our unique annual Collective gathering, where we try to get right what so many conferences get wrong.

Our inspiration really comes from events and opportunities outside of libraryland, where innovation is necessary for survival. Some particular events that we might consider part of our “inspiration board” are the early iterations of SXSW Interactive (circa 2007/08) and the spirit of THATCamp. But we’ve really aimed to reinvent the mold with The Collective.

What was the professional development contribution you made that led to receiving this award?

Starting in 2014, we set out to transform and redefine the library professional development landscape. We co-founded our annual Collective gathering and, this past year, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to education and innovation for better librarianship—The Library Collective. We’re an all-volunteer organization run by librarians, for librarians.

Our core programming includes our original annual international gathering, called The Collective, and year-round regional and virtual events. As attendees will tell you, The Collective emphasizes thoughtful, in-depth discussion and workshops over lecture-style presentations and is an unparalleled low-cost, high-impact event that encourages collaboration and sharing among practicing librarians creating innovative work. But you don’t have to take our word for it. We’re also committed to transparency and we’re the only conference we know of that shares uncensored participant feedback from our event each year. You can find out more at: http://www.thelibrarycollective.org

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

A few little-known ways we break the library stereotypes: Corey hates cats and loves to karaoke rap; Ashley is a skilled baker and once worked as a bar maid in an Austrian castle.

More information about the ULS Award: http://www.ala.org/acrl/awards/achievementawards/ulsaward

Many thanks to Library Juice Academy (http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/) for their sponsorship of $1000.

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