With the help of some great LITA member input, I’ve put together a list of interview questions for the LITA President candidates in the upcoming ALA Election, March 19-April 27. Here are Cindi Trainor’s answers; please see also Aaron Dobbs’. I hope this helps you make an informed decision between these outstanding candidates.
1) What is LITA?
This question seems like it should have an obvious answer, but it can be elusive. LITA is a professional organization. LITA is a home for anyone who considers herself an advocate of technology in libraries. LITA is … what? At its heart, LITA is its members–all its members: people who are linked by an interest in or passion for technology in libraries, however they define it. This array of definitions is exactly what makes LITA hard to define. The bottom line is: as reflected in our long and shifting list of Interest Groupss, LITA is what we–the members–make it.
2) LITA has the best members anywhere, but it’s struggled with retention. How will you make the members feel supported by, and connected to, LITA?
Our membership data indicates that many ALA members join LITA but don’t stay. That says to me that we either piqued their interest with programming and lost them somewhere along the way, or LITA fell prey to “second division syndrome.” Last year’s data indicate that some 76% of LITA members are members of another ALA division. In tight economic times, we have to prove our value to members outside programming and publications that are open to all ALA members by being an engaging community centered around the technologies we use in our libraries. LITA’s Interest Group structure is a wonderful tool for this; as we say in LITA 201, “Don’t see it? Make it!”
3) If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA President, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?
I want to continue to close the gap between LITA governance and membership by making all Board activities visible to members and by working toward systematic leadership training. Leadership skills learned in LITA translate directly into the workplace, and systematic transfer of these skills from our veteran leaders to our members-at-large has not happened. When we welcome members into leadership roles in our organization, we do not have the luxury of time to give them a year to learn the ropes. People stepping into leadership roles should be given clear guidelines and expectations for getting their (clearly defined) work accomplished. Concomitantly, members stepping into Committee and IG roles should also have clear expectations and should be able to see the path from Committee/IG member to chair to Board member, should they have an interest.
4) Given the current financial conditions, many LITA members are unable to travel to conferences. What are your views on the use of technology to enable virtual attendance to various LITA meetings and functions?
The reasons most often given for not offering virtual components to programming are economic. LITA is a small division, and as such doesn’t have extra funds available to contract with a company outside ALA, as other divisions have done. That said, there are myriad tools available, inside ALA and freely available on the Internet, that can be harnessed to do this. The key, again, is planning for this in a systematic and continual way, not the seat-of-our-pants way it’s been done in the past. Although LITA’s seat-of-our-pants nature is something I’m very proud of!
5) What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?
Collaborative opportunities abound, and I look forward to encouraging and pursuing them as LITA President. Technology is pervasive in our profession, and integral to getting our work done; partnerships could be made with most any division or round table. Joint Interest Groups are a great member-driven way to connect two Divisions and give these groups resources for meetings and programming at conferences. ALA Connect spaces for Joint IGs or for more informal Communities afford us the opportunity to collaborate between conferences. LITA members have played integral roles in ALA-level task forces, committees and work groups. Closing the gap between members and the board and providing members with systematic leadership training will insure that LITA members will continue to be the go-to tech people for ALA as well as its Divisions and Round Tables.
For more information on Cindi, check out her LITA Election page.