Friday, June 22, 2007

ALA 2007 Spectrum Leadership Institute

As I noted yesterday, today I was one of the speakers at the American Library Association (ALA) 2007 Spectrum Leadership Institute. Spectrum is "a scholarship program designed to improve library service through the development of an ethnically diverse workforce" sponsored by the ALA Office for Diversity. In 2006, ALA awarded 69 scholarships and I believe all of those scholars were at the Institute.

It was rewarding to be among this group and see their enthusiasm for the profession. It was also heartening to hear the speakers who talked about being librarians outside of the library, the morning's first session. Those speakers were Sandy Littletree (independent contractor), Elisia Johnson (prison librarian), Anne Caputo (corporate director), and Marcia Farabee (orchestra librarian). Adding to the diversity of the already diverse group, Littletree, who is Navajo, introduced herself in the Navajo language as well as in English and Caputo shared proudly that she is Potawatomi. Of the four, Farabee had the job that I had never thought of -- orchestra librarian -- which sounded fascinating.

Having been a Dialog user since 1981, it was interesting to hear Anne Caputo talk about going to work at Dialog as their sixth employee (obviously before 1981). Her involvement in the information industry goes back a long way and I suspect that she had forgotten over the years more than many of us will ever know about the inner workings of the industry.

I bet it was interesting for the Scholars to hear a bit about the value of these individuals and their earning power. When Caputo started at Dialog, librarians had the ability to earn more than they thought they could. And I remember in 1983 knowing how much I was worth if I went to work for the federal government, and then being shocked to learn what I was worth in the corporate world. Johnson was quick to impress on the group that being a prison librarian pays well. People with skills in information storage, retrieval, analysis, etc. are valued assets (than as now).

I spoke on a panel with Doug Newcomb from the Special Libraries Association and Jonathan Band, an attorney who is focused on technology law and policy. We were focused on advocacy. Newcomb gave an overview of several policy issues that library organizations are following globally. Band spoke specifically about Orphaned Works and H.R. 1201 (The FAIR USE Act of 2007). Band was asked numerous questions about copyright and other issues, which was good. These are issues that these new librarians will need to understand, so it was good to hear/see them wanting to know more.

I spoke on personal advocacy and used these four rules as the basis for my talk. When I began working on the presentation, I created this slide of qualities, which are all good, but the four rules worked much better in the time that I had.

In all of our careers, we must advocate for ourselves. We must also empower those around us to be our advocates, our supporters. They must be able to tell our stories and pull other support towards us. After today, I think that every Spectrum Scholar will advocate for themselves and also advocate for the profession. If they do that, they will be unstoppable.

It was a wonderful day. Good conversation and energy. I hope this won't be my last time interacting with this group.

6/23/2007: Sorry about the typos I had in the title earlier! I wrote the post at the end of a long day. And thanks K.P.R. for saving me further embarrassment!

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