Courage, Creativity, Community

More on Core

Hi again! To provide maximum transparency and help you make the right vote, here are the notes I made for the Core Candidate Town Hall on September 30th, 2020. I didn’t get to say all of this out of respect for time, so there’s some additional detail to these that may not be present in the Town Hall recording.

Opening Statement:

I’ll start with a thank you to all of you for coming out today, to the candidates (all of whom I am proud to call colleagues and friends), to everyone (and there’s a lot of you) who helped take Core from a great idea to a reality, to the ALA staff who are doing a ton of the heavy lifting on helping this new division reach one of its crucial goals, sustainability.

I’m Lindsay Cronk, a loud person who happens to be a collection librarian, a candidate for President Elect, I’ve been a member of ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA, though you’ll know me largely from my work with LITA where I was big on the blog and a member of the Board, or maybe from my efforts as a ALA Councilor at Large trying to open up and make transparent ALA’s governance, or maybe from my own blog where I’ve talked about my volunteer experiences and vision for moving ALA forward.  I care a great deal about defining a different path forward for Core.

 I care about it because I think that the key gap we need to overcome in library work at the aggregate is communicating the value of our work without falling into the trap of vocational awe or martyrdom, and I think Core as I envision it, is a key place we can do that, by which I mean swagger on the important work we do. These are dark and challenging times for everyone but I would say particularly for the most vulnerable within our profession, and the people who should be members of Core have traditionally been more vulnerable for not having their work made visible or understood. Core can and should be a place where we are LOUD on our own behalf, insistent on our value and our importance, not in a defensive way but in a truly transformative way.

Because I don’t want sustainability just for this division—I want it for all of us.

And I think I could do that really well—because I may well be the loudest librarian you know and I have unabashed confidence in the radical value of your work- which is why I am running for President-Elect.

Question 1: Imagine it’s five years from now and Core has been wildly successful. What’s it like?

This wildly successful Core is active and engaged, a powerful platform for and advocate of members who choose multiple roots to engagement, many of them short-term projects rather than standing committees. Sign-ups for opportunities are open, but Core will also be the first division to acknowledge that not all members want to work for the division, and that volunteer work isn’t the only channel for engagement or co-creation.

Core’s communications are legendary- proactive, candid, and concise. Members do not have cluttered inboxes, but they all know the priorities for the coming year.

Core’s connect communities are inclusive and active, spaces where no question is a dumb question and all answers are explicit. We are known as a division that actually enforces its code of conduct.

Core’s leadership will be diverse but universally accessible and responsive.

Core members are also pushing for the same kind of representation and change in ALA, and the association itself is adapting to the Core model.

Core is wildly successful because it is different from what division experience used to be, and it became the first truly member-centered division of ALA by acknowledging that member engagement is more than volunteer opportunities or course opportunities. Members of Core know and trust the division to provide a place for them to refer administrators, boards, and funders to learn more about the essential work of libraries.

Taking the powerful opportunity to right congenital wrongs embedded in ALA’s current structures (inequity, nepotism, whiteness), we modeled a transparent way forward that gave members the sometimes intangible benefits they actually wanted—a sense of true community and a sense that their professional institution was aware of the precarity of many library positions and communicated why precarious labor was bad for libraries and the communities they serve.

Question 2: You’ve all been very active in the merger process. What have you learned along the way that will help you represent all Core members, no matter what division or divisions you came from?

I think in retrospect I will always think of 2017-2019 as the merger years. So much of my professional involvement revolved around that work. I was on the Activities working group, the Core steering Committee, and led the Core Communications Working Group for the merge vote wind-up. These efforts taught me that being a good representative is making the time to listen and open up process wherever possible.

I am so much better at being a leader because of that work. I am a better writer because I helped on the Core communications, developing the We Hear You page, and particularly the Mission/Vision/Values documentation. I think about Kate Hall (she was a LLAMA rep) at least once every day when I go to type something. How do I get it as tight, as good as that vision statement: “Core members play a central role in every library, shaping the future of the profession by striking a balance between maintenance and innovation, process and progress, collaborating and leading.”

My practice is much more reflective because I worked with Chelcie Rowell of ALCTS, who taught me a lot about always making sure my bravery and courage has kindness and consideration. Or Lynn Hoffman of LLAMA who could/should/may have already written a book about project management.

In a top ten list of things I am proud of, and right at the top I’d put that we made working on the bylaws themselves a collective editing project, where anyone who participated could reasonably call themselves a co-author. And what an exercise in transparency/collective work! I’m thinking of my friend and colleague, Jill Emery of ALCTS, who made sure we included Metadata explicitly. Or the folks who went hard to get technical services areas added. You co-authored our documents. That is SO COOL. I hope I have the chance to do something that cool again, I bet I will since Core exists.

You know, I think people lose track of the fact that I wasn’t in love with the merger at first. I had just gotten elected to LITA Board and I had to set aside my own agenda. I wanted to be President of LITA one day. I know others across the divisions probably felt one dream die that way. What working with Core has given me is a renewed energy, a sense of home and purpose, and real and important changes to my practice that I can’t imagine myself without now.

What I’ll bring forward is all of that. Proven commitment, known ability to collaborate at a wide scale, responsive and open practice, and a person who wants to serve as president of this amazing division probably 10x as much as I wanted to be president of LITA. We are more powerful, we are better together.

Question 3: How can members participate in building this new division?

I am committed to creating different channels for participation. I’d want to continue town halls, Twitter chats, Connect threads, and every option for dialogue that defines a more constructive path forward. Lately, I’ve been thinking of how we might deploy informal polls and surveys to help influence our communication work and strategy. I’d love to a member project proposal framework (maybe stealing from Emerging Leaders) where members pick up the problems and opportunities they are excited about and build the things they need. I am interested above all in Core as a platform for member talent.

I’d like to expand our awards to make sure we’re leaning into recognition as an important tool we wield to trumpet the importance of maintenance work, unseen labor.

We’re more powerful and better together, and that energy is a powerful gift of its own, I sincerely invite you to build this with me in ways we haven’t defined yet. I think Core is open to models of engagement we have yet to define, and that is one of our strengths as an entirely new idea.






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