Chapter Report: Across the Spectrum

By Watkins, Christine | American Libraries, September 1999 | Go to article overview

Chapter Report: Across the Spectrum


Watkins, Christine, American Libraries


Two impressive groups gathered at the Radisson Hotel in New Orleans just prior to the ALA Annual Conference in June. They both augur well for the future of librarianship. One was made up of the first year of Spectrum scholarship winners (AL, June/July 1998, p. 9-11), who attended a three-day preconference institute. In addition to hearing from library leaders on a wide range of topics, the scholars had the opportunity to begin forging professional relationships among themselves and with other ALA members. The experience will hopefully inform and shape their contributions to present and future employers, their communities, and the broader goals of a civic society served by libraries.

For the scholars, Spectrum is just the beginning. As Jose Aponte, director of the Oceanside (Calif.) Public Library and a member of the Spectrum Institute Planning Committee, says, "Spectrum is a semilla - a seed that needs to grow." Aponte developed a list of "Top Ten Reasons Why We Need to Fund Spectrum" and presented the list at a Spectrum fund-raising rally hosted by ALA President Sarah Long. "The list was meant to be provocative, not a statistical rationale," Aponte said, himself the child of a librarian who was one of the founding members of ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table. Aponte's list stresses the need for libraries to expand their roles in connecting people to each other and their communities.

Recruiting recruiters

Another group attended the first Spectrum recruitment training workshop, an initiative of the Spectrum fund, with support from the Chapter Relations Committee. Specifically aimed at presenting practical tips and techniques for chapters and others at the state and local levels to develop recruiting strategies and produce their own recruitment training sessions, the workshop will be offered again at the 2000 ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio.

In the morning session, a cross-cultural panel of young librarians presented a range of recruiting tips. Presenters included Mario Ascencio, librarian for Latino research, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.; Tarshel Beards, acquisitions editor, ALA Editions, Chicago; Naomi Caldwell, school library media specialist, Feinstein High School, Providence, R.I.; Raquel Cogell, reference librarian, Emory University, Atlanta; Gerardo A. Colmenar, area studies librarian, University of California/Santa Barbara; Isabel Espinal, reference librarian and outreach specialist, University of Massachusetts Libraries, Amherst; Elayne Walstedter, outreach librarian and assistant professor, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo.; and Patty Wong, coordinator of children's services, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library.

The panelists spoke about their own recruitment to the profession and reviewed strategies, issues, and concerns in recruiting others. Colmenar noted that, though many of the panelists were on their first ALA or professional panel, the overwhelming impression was of a group of bright, serious, ambitious people with a sense of history and a sense of humor doing important, thoughtful, rigorous work in all types of librarianship. Their perspectives were varied, their advice sharp and focused, their experiences in some ways limited, in other ways extensive.

Their own commitments are both recruiting for the profession and making sure that librarianship is a profession worthy to be recruited to. Ascencio said he knew he wanted to be a librarian when he was 17; but when he got to college he wondered, "Where did all the Latino librarians go? …

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