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. I’ve asked the Director candidates to respond to these same questions. This is Rachel Vacek’s interview; you can find the rest of the candidates’ answers at the lita_election_2012 tag. I hope this helps you make an informed decision among these outstanding candidates.
What is LITA?
To me, LITA is a community of innovators, leaders, technologists and liaisons to one another and those outside of the community. LITA is also an association, which means that people voluntarily come together with similar purposes to share an interest or activity. I believe that people join LITA because they want to learn something, help their colleagues and improve the library profession as a whole. They know that together they can make a difference and have greater impact than if they worked alone.
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?
I believe that there are many additional things that can be done to support potential and current LITA members:
- Involve enthusiastic, active members who have already embraced
LITA’s mission and values in making new members feel welcome. They
are knowledgeable, involved and committed to LITA. Active members
can serve as role models for new members as well as those who have
watched from the sidelines. There could be a buddy system, a new
member mentoring program, or even a phone call or simple letter of
welcome from an active member to a new member. Making new members
feel important at the onset of their joining LITA is critical.
- Recognize more frequently the outstanding contributions of LITA
members, whether or not that work is directly associated with LITA. This recognition doesn’t have to be through formal award processes, but I’d like to see new models of sharing and appreciating the outstanding things we do for our profession and one another.
- Emphasize that a benefit to joining LITA is about expanding your network and circle of influence, and even having some fun while doing it. The LITA Happy Hour is a great example, and I’d like to see more programs that encourage networking, engaging others and having fun with like-minded individuals.
- Ask current and potential members their goals. I think the best way to get LITA members to commit is to get them to participate in activities that will further their goals and those of the profession. If we don’t know their goals, we can’t easily create additional meaningful and relevant training opportunities or events.
I believe that if current and future LITA members feel that they have learned both practical and innovative new things, if they are able to participate in workshops or events that meet their goals, if they have expanded their network, and if they feel connected to LITA more by engaging with active members, those LITA members will feel inspired to participate in new ways, will renew their membership and encourage others to join.
If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA Director, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?
If I have to choose one area, I would like to focus my effort in moving forward online programming and the communication about such opportunities. Since member retention is a challenge for LITA, providing more opportunities for member participation is key. LITA members could share their knowledge and experience in teaching a greater variety of workshops, webinars and other types of online programming than what is currently being offered. With additional online programs, pricing can also be more flexible for those in libraries with differing financial situations.
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?
I think that utilizing technology to enable virtual attendance is both fantastic and crucial to LITA’s future. In order for people to feel engaged and connected with LITA, providing options for participation is essential whether face-to-face or virtual. I applaud LITA’s recent efforts to stream meetings, capture video and audio whenever possible and encourage participation. I’d like to see LITA become the leader and a role model in this area for other divisions within ALA.
What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?
Every division within ALA could benefit from collaborating with LITA on technology standards, best practices, and other technology recommendations. I would like to see LITA implement some sort of liaison program to each of the divisions and many of the committees and groups within those divisions as well as many of the ALA offices. One mutually beneficial partner could be the Learning Round Table which promotes continuing education, helps people network with other continuing education providers for the exchange of ideas, concerns and solutions, serves as a source and advocates for the continuation of education. For example, I’d like to see LITA participate in their Annual Training Showcase.
You can learn more about Rachel at her LITA election page.