Assistant Director, Chesapeake (VA) Public Library
PLA Member for 4 Years
How did you first become involved with PLA?
PLA’s publications, programs, and online learning opportunities have been vital resources throughout my career. However, I became most active with PLA following a stinging disappointment at work. I registered for ALA Midwinter 2015 to re-charge my batteries and to seek fulfillment through professional organizations. I sat in on committee meetings for a variety of ALA subdivisions. After a PLA meeting, I felt compelled to hear more and went alone to the PLA Happy Hour that evening. I was greeted by smiling faces and immediately felt at home when I recognized a library school classmate. I called her name and threw my arms around her for a hug. She sweetly accepted the hug but informed me that she was on the PLA Staff–not my former classmate. Once my embarrassment subsided, I shared my interest in getting more involved with PLA. Within days of returning to work, I had an email from her inviting me to write for PL Online, beginning my transformational experience serving and growing with PLA.
I wrote for PL Online on assigned topics but they also gave me a platform to write about subjects I loved. “Who are the Jon Stewarts of Libraries? Call out your Super Bosses,” highlighted my passions for leadership. Being published online boosted my confidence as I received comments and shares on social media. Next, I was tapped to write a piece on a pre-conference for the print newsletter. It gave me important work to do for PLA, a sense of belonging, a great keepsake, and an even more meaningful conference experience.
What committee do you currently volunteer with? What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Currently, I am serving on the PLA 2020 Conference Program Subcommittee. In the past I served on the PLA at ALA Program Subcommittee. Both have been an eye-opening, learning experiences, allowing me to see the great things happening at public libraries around the nation and beyond. Also, I represented PLA through introducing speakers at conference, presented on a webinar, and worked the Information Booth at PLA 2018. I wrote a program proposal and co-wrote an article for PLA magazine while on the PLA Leadership Development Committee. For each volunteer experience, I’ve enjoyed contributing to our profession, learning new skills, and expanding my professional network. Volunteering with PLA consistently reinvigorates my zeal for public librarianship.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that PLA does?
I think the laser-focused professional development opportunities, marketing, and advocacy are the most important work PLA does for public librarians and public libraries.
How has PLA helped you in your career path?
Attending the PLA Leadership Academy in 2017 was an unforgettable, transformational experience. It was nearly a week of unique learning opportunities, self-discovery, and networking. Within 12 months of completing the Academy, I received two career promotional opportunities!
Also, I attended the PLA Results Boot Camp in 2015 to strengthen my knowledge of strategic planning. Thanks to the resources and mentors I met at boot-camp, I am now leading my first Strategic Planning effort in my current position as Assistant Director of the Chesapeake Public Library.
How has PLA changed you?
PLA has inspired, fed my knowledge, and transformed my career. Since joining PLA I have served in exciting and unexpected ways. I’ve grown my professional network with colleagues, mentors, and friends. Involvement with PLA has made conferences seem smaller and more meaningful to me. Thank you for continually reigniting and sustaining my passion for public libraries. Happy 75th Anniversary to PLA!