When I saw the call for candidates for this position, I was sad. I thought, what is happening to our association? I am the first to admit that the last couple of years I didn’t renew my membership as I felt my association abandoned me and my colleagues. I knew it was time for me to step up and help our association rise to its former glory once again. I am excited about our future and I am calling out to all of you to come back and be a part of our new vision. It’s a new day to join AzLA!
A little History
Now bear with me. I’m trying to make a point about how AzLA played a part in the development of my career. I had my first taste of AzLA back in 1999. I was working at Peoria Public Library as a para-professional, and our Director at the time, Brenda Brown-a former AzLA President, Legislative Committee Chair, and retired Community Services Director for the City of Chandler, encouraged staff to attend. I had never attended a professional conference and was giddy to have the opportunity. I really don’t remember what sessions I attended, but I loved learning about service trends and connecting with other libraries and staff across the state.
When I was rehired at Glendale Public Library in March of 2001, Louise Stephens was my department manager. Those of you who are not familiar with Louise, may at least recognize the Louise Stephens Memorial Scholarship. Louise was very active in our association. She served as President of the Public Library Division in 1993-94 and President of AzLA in 1997-98. In 2001 she received the esteemed professional honor of being named AzLA Librarian of the Year and in 2007 received the Rosenzweig Award for distinguished service. Louise pushed for professional development and membership in AzLA for staff. I adored Louise and she was very influential in my decision to become a leader and librarian.
In 2008, our Adult Services Supervisor for Glendale, Cyndee Landrum, now Deputy Director, Office of Library Services at Institute of Museum and Library Services, was President-Elect and I won the Library Support Staff Scholarship Award to continue my education. What was even more amazing, Cyndee was the catalyst for most of the Glendale Public Library staff to jump aboard AzLA and be active committee members.
I volunteered for my first AzLA committee in 2012, the Membership Committee. We were dealing with the same issue back in 2012, to increase membership in our association. I was able to work alongside some great people and get to understand the association, technology for connecting many people across the state and understanding parliamentary meeting procedures. At the wrap up of the conference, President-elect Ann Boles, recruited me along with Claudia Leon, now a regional manager with the Phoenix Public Library, to be the co-chairs for the 2014 conference. I cannot tell you the whirlwind year that we had! I learned so much about project management, team work, major organizational skills, flexibility and communication, communication and more communication. This conference hooked me. What an experience! I now had the ability to negotiate with vendors, plan large scale events and get to know my library colleagues across the state.
Because I started graduate school in 2014 and was working full time, I needed to step back from being actively involved in the association, but I was still a member. Once I graduated, I was able to put in for conference sessions and co-presented about grants and community assessment plans. I am a big extrovert so it was a great opportunity to network with everyone, go to fabulous sessions and make new connections. I love my conferences!
While doing some research on AzLA and those who were so influential to me to join, I found a quote by Cyndee way back in 2008 that she wrote in her personal statement;
“ To preserve the life and future of Arizona through its libraries, it takes a proactive organization poised to respond to the issues facing not only the profession but those that we serve. The Arizona Library Association (AzLA) and its members have worked to ensure that the contributions of libraries are acknowledged at all levels of governance. It is critical that AzLA continue and enhance this tradition by creating collaborative and reciprocal opportunities with community-based organizations aligned with our service and legislative objectives. By doing so, we increase our ability to meet users needs at a grassroots level while creating new voices of advocacy for Arizona libraries.”
This statement still holds true more than ever. We need to work together as an association to become strong again and support our members, advocate, and preserve the future of our association. The women and men I connected with through AzLA have been the driving force behind me becoming a librarian, leader and mentor for others. I believe in AzLA and all the opportunities it provides for professional development of staff, lobbying for libraries and networking. We have a lot of hard work a head of us. You will be hearing more shortly about all the opportunities to help your association. It’s a new day to volunteer for AzLA!
CASEY VAN HAREN, MLIS
Community Services Director
Phone 928-759-3061 Web prescottvalley-az.gov