by Fallon Bleich, Head Editor, INALJ Arkansas
Why You Should Apply for the ALA Emerging Leader Program
Last year, I was luckily chosen to participate in the ALA Emerging Leader program. It was a great experience and has really supercharged my career both within and outside of ALA. The following is a list of the reasons you should apply (the application should go live any day now, if it hasn’t already by the time this is posted):
- Money for conferences! This is the perk you get to take advantage of immediately. It depends on your sponsor, obviously, but most cough up some money for you to attend both Mid-Winter and Annual. This is great and super helpful for you, because at least one of those conferences is going to probably cost you a lot to attend. If you’re like me and in the middle of the country, flights are not cheap and the money goes a long ways towards getting to the cities chosen for these conferences.
- Meeting amazing people. If you were to ever feel intimidated by the sheer awesomeness of one room of people, it would be here. The people that are in the EL program are wonderful and really looking forward to working together to make the projects have a greater impact on ALA. Everyone I met during my time was super nice and nobody tried to act above one another. There is no need to feel any anxiety, because everyone there is part of one class of Emerging Leaders! Which brings me to my next point…
- Prestige. Plain and simple, you become part of an elite group of ALA members/librarians. If you take a look at the ALA Think Tank on Facebook or the election rolls each year, you will see a long list of people who are former ELs. Only 50 or so people get chosen each year and that’s for a reason; it makes it easier to do the group projects, networking with the ALA groups you’re working for becomes easier, and it makes the program that much more prestigious.
- One on one time with a specific ALA group. Interested in LLAMA? How about RUSA? The Emerging Leader program provides an instant connection with certain divisions/roundtables in ALA. Each project is sponsored by a different group and a representative from that group is present at the Mid-Winter meeting to help your group understand what their task is; most times, the project is also something to help publicize or fix a certain aspect of the group.
- After effects. The EL program really gives you a leg up in the ALA organization. If you’re looking to start doing committee work, this program on your resume is like adding a giant “Pick me” sign to any application you turn in to committees. For instance, one of my career goals was to serve on a selection committee and while I had applied prior to the EL program, I had never gotten very far with it. After the EL program though, I got picked to serve on three YALSA committees, one of which is the Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers Selection Committee! The EL program also helped get my first internship on a committee, too, and after Annual, I will be an intern for the Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee. All of this is due to the Emerging Leader program and the skills it taught me, including giving me the confidence to try and work within ALA.
Finally, a little cross-promotion: One of the best things that has happened for me coming out of the Emerging Leader program is the inclusion in my local organization, the Arkansas Library Association. Along with two other fantastic former ELs, we’ve created a new ad-hoc committee for ARLA, in order to get some great new Arkansas candidates for ARLA to sponsor in the EL program. Here are the qualifications, separate but including the ALA ones, for any future ARLA Emerging Leaders:
- Must have worked in a library for 5 years or less.
- Must be an ALA member and an ARLA member
- Complete end of program/evaluation follow-up report.
- Write at least 1 Arkansas Libraries article about your experience and/or project.
- Must present at ARLA’s annual conference immediately following your Emerging Leader term.
So, to all my Arkansas readers out there, please apply! We know that Arkansas can produce a ton of great leaders and we want to show ALA that. In return for these very simple qualifications, ARLA will pay you $1000 per conference to represent us and you’ll get to be an Emerging Leader, which is pretty awesome in and of itself.
Interested in applying to be an Emerging Leader or just want to know about the program? http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/leadership/emergingleaders
From Arkansas and curious about our new committee or interested in applying? Please get in touch with me, either on INALJ, the @INALJArkansas twitter account, or by emailing me at Fallon.Bleich@gmail.com. I’m also happy to talk to you about my EL experience or answer any questions you may have, whether you are from Arkansas or not.