Here is the third in our series of interviews with the candidates for ALA President*. This time we talk to Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services
Austin Community College
All of the interviews are being conducted by Lynda M. Kellam, Data Services & Government Information Librarian and Adjunct Lecturer in Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
ATG Interviews Julie Todaro, Candidate for ALA President
LK: On what areas do you intend to focus if you are elected ALA President?
JT: ALA’s third strategic initiative is Professional & Leadership Development. My Presidential initiative is leading with a focus on the professional and specifically the expertise and experience that the members of our profession possess and exhibit every day. I know that we can have the perfect facility, the most in-depth collection, well-designed programs, cutting edge technology and access for all and still not be recognized as relevant to our constituents or recognized for our expertise. We need to expand the spotlight on the professional and the value of we bring to our work and our profession in general. I will work with ALL areas of ALA to create content to expand the awareness of the uniqueness of what we do every day to find out what our constituents need and then what we do to create and deliver that perfect facility, the most in-depth collection, successful reference and information assistance and the perfect programs.
LK: What are some specific academic library concerns that need more attention from ALA?
JT: There can never be enough focus on the critical role we play in higher education and the value that we bring to our institutions. We need an ongoing and dynamic process for continuing to gather and deliver content to our profession on: the value of our facilities and resources, the critical, specific role we play in teaching and learning (both on and off campus) and – most importantly – the value librarians bring in support of classroom instruction, through the delivery of our own curriculum and ultimately how our instruction plays a critical, specific and measureable role in student success.
In addition to the ongoing discussion of value of what we bring and who we are in public services, I want to add the need for an expansion of the discussion and articulation of the infrastructure of libraries – specifically technical services and automation. Librarians in these roles “come at” their positions in dramatically different ways and there must be a variety of discussions on what happens in these areas and what roles and responsibilities, skills sets as well as the education and certifications needed to continue to bring librarians and other professionals to this area of the profession with the broad knowledge they need to both understand and implement 21st century tools.
LK: Some academic librarians and patrons applaud the move to create spaces that encourage group work and interaction, while others prefer a quieter library. How should the library of the twenty-first century brand itself?
JT: It is cavalier to say “we need both” given many of our space and technology support constraints; however, the nature of contemporary teaching and learning is one that focuses on both small and large group active learning spaces as well as spaces for individual focused learning. Today’s libraries – if space is limited (and it usually is) – must decide what resources need to be at hand or onsite and what can resources might be more flexible and brought in when needed or elsewhere. Today’s professionals have to rethink what we provide in our facilities to include not only the greatest flexibility of facilities including furniture and tech support as well as the variety of spaces that successful students need. This mornings’ larger group meeting room can be this afternoon’s active learning or innovation space or tomorrow’s “maker” space.
LK: At ALA midwinter, several sessions tackled the emerging roles of academic libraries in engaging with open access publishing. What are your thoughts on this trend?
JT: Librarians can’t and typically don’t ignore overarching education issues in the design and delivery of collections and services. Open access publishing is an area that – whether led by researchers and classroom faculty – or others is a reality librarians must deal with. It is also a controversial area that must be negotiated with classroom faculty, research leaders in institutions and vendors and publishers in the determination of legality, value and 21st century requirements for research and publishing as well as industry solvency. It must be an area where librarians lead in the identification and articulation of issues as well as organization of access. Librarians must also work with their colleagues to determine not only codification and access but also storage, ownership and measurement and use criteria within the boundaries of free enterprise and the future of information. The big issues typically aren’t “are we going to” or “will we” rather “it is happening” so how can we both support and lead as needed realizing the often conflicting goals of entities.
LK: Why should Against the Grain readers vote for you as ALA’s next president?
JT: My content isn’t about me but has to be about the members. That being said, there are many ways a presidents can make a difference for the profession. A president’s initiative might receive the most press but the ALA President spends a great deal of time testifying before legislative bodies on general library and information issues and issues related to our infrastructure; writing columns for both general press as well as specific press; and being interviewed for their own ALA initiative as well as being interviewed on the myriad of library, information and infrastructure issues. I have the skills set for these activities and to make a difference but – again – not through a focus on me – rather through a focus on the members of the profession. I have unique knowledge of the member areas of the association in a variety of ways, I have worked in every type of library at many levels and I have a love of and knowledge of the depth and breadth of what it takes to operate a relevant library and information setting. MOST importantly I have been committed to my staff and their accomplishments and am skilled at – one of my most important jobs – positioning my staff in the organization, giving them what they need to create and getting out of the way so that they can accomplish what they need to for not only themselves but for their constituents and student success.. I ask for your vote!”
- ATG Interviews the ALA Presidential Candidates: James (Jamie) LaRue;
- ATG Interviews the ALA Presidential Candidates: Joe Janes
Lynda is also an Adjunct Lecturer in the Political Science Department and contributor to Against the Grain.