Want to Be an ALA Emerging Leader?

Katy DiVittorio —  December 19, 2016 — Leave a comment
Photo of neatly arranged bookshelves

By Maarten van den Heuvel via Unsplash

The 2017 class of American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders was recently announced, which got me thinking about my experience as a 2014 Emerging Leader.

Emerging Leaders is a six month professional development program that pulls together aspiring library leaders from diverse positions across the United States. After an in-person meeting at the ALA Midwinter meeting, the participants work on collaborative group projects, with a final opportunity to connect and present at the ALA Annual Conference.

Before I applied I did a bit of research about the program and even talked to several people who had participated. Overall the response participants gave was positive, but there were a few people who thought it didn’t live up to their expectations. So if you find yourself wondering whether you should apply next year here is a bit of advice from an emerged leader:

Yes, apply.

Participating in this program has been one of the highlights of my career.  No, it wasn’t perfect – but I met amazing people, learned from top leaders, and got to work on an awesome team project that ALA then used to create the first virtual ALCTS 101.

Career Booster

I was one of many MLIS grads for whom it took a few years to get my first professional level job after graduating. Being an ALA Emerging Leader wasn’t the sole factor in landing my first professional job, but it helped. Participating in the program demonstrated that I was committed to the profession and was ready to be a leader in the field and in my workplace.

Connections

You will meet amazing people and make great connections. I met people who really inspired me and demonstrated the passion librarians have for the field. I even felt a little star struck at times.

Conferences

I was sponsored by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), which helped to pay for my conference attendance. I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. While my work was supportive I was still in that “para-professional” level and didn’t get employer funding for ALA Annual or Midwinter.

ALA Involvement

If you find it challenging to navigate and get involved in ALA, Emerging Leaders is your in. I still get overwhelmed by the vastness of the organization, but I’m on four ALA committees/groups and feel more connected every year.

Collaboration

Ok, don’t apply if you hate group work or collaborating online. A main part of the program is a group project. I personally love group work – yay collaboration! My MLIS program was 100% online and I became a whiz at collaborating online so this part of the program was a breeze for me. While I want to encourage others to apply, do take a hard look at whether you can handle and enjoy a lot of group work.

Life Happens

I ended up having a high risk pregnancy, being on full bed rest, and in and out of the hospital every other week during half of my Emerging Leaders program. A testament to the program was how supportive and understanding my group and ALA was. When I should have been with my group presenting at ALA Annual I instead was in the hospital. My group set it up so I could present virtually if I was able to, but since I couldn’t they had a picture of me there instead. ALA Emerging Leaders and the people who run the program are truly amazing.


I’m excited to follow this new class of Emerging Leaders and hope you will too.

While this class is just getting kicked off, you can apply for the next round over summer 2017. Mark your calendar to look for the call for applications!

If you have more questions about applying or the program feel free to contact me at katy.divittorio@ucdenver.edu

P.S. I have a happy healthy two year old daughter now who is causing a lot less stress for her mom than she did in 2014.  🙂

Katy DiVittorio

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Katy is the Acquisitions Librarian at the Auraria Library in Denver, CO. She is the recipient of the 2013 ALA Shirley Olofson Memorial Award and a 2014 ALA Emerging Leader.

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