Tuesday, July 9, 2013

So You Want to be an ALA Emerging Leader

So I'm back from ALA Annual, everyone!

I've had this post in the hopper for awhile but I figured I'd wait until after the poster session to put it up, in case it turned out I really hated everything. There were a few weeks in there that were pretty hectic, and I wasn't sure if we could pull it off, but we rallied and got everything done on time! Here's a link to my finished product that is part of a four-part series of adult learning tutorials, a project proposed by LIRT. This year we were able to pick our own projects to work on, and this one was my second choice. You wouldn't believe how many people were like, "What does adult learning have to do with being a children's librarian?" And I'm just like, well, everything, actually.
Grumpy Cat looking grumpy. Meme-style texts reads,
"Apply for Emerging Leaders? Fine. Maybe I will."

My real reason for writing this post is the lack of help I found in my first stages of applying for Emerging Leaders. As I mentioned before, when I searched for terms like, "I applied for Emerging Leaders and was rejected how will I ever get over myself" I'd get results that were written by the Done-Emerged about whether or not I should apply.


So okay, the following isn't a do-all end all, but they are things that I believe may have helped my application. Not to say that anyone who didn't get accepted did not do any of these things, but I was just so surprised that I was actually picked I rationalized a few reasons.

1. Recommendations: I am lucky enough to directly work for the Wisconsin Chapter Councilor to ALA, and she was awesome enough to write me a recommendation. Having navigated multiple Good Ol' Boys networks in my nine years of professional work, I've learned that having a well-respected name on my side is always a good plan. My second recommendation came from a colleague at FSU who has used some of my programming at her library, furthering the rhetoric of my application in which I mentioned this blog, and that's it's helpful to people. I hounded both of these people until they successfully submitted their letters, as the application is not complete without them, even when someone thought they uploaded their letter and turns out the upload failed.

2. Match your application's theme to an ALA section: I'm living proof that it's a myth that you have to be a member of a sponsoring unit to be sponsored. I joined NMRT and ALSC, and chose them as potential sponsors. At the last minute, I also decided to pick ASCLA. When I went to their page I saw they're all about accessibility in all its forms, and that pretty much was what my entire application was about. Oh, also they work for services for patrons with disabilities, and I have a disability myself. I'm not sure which of these things matched me to ASCLA in the end, but if it was the latter, screw it. But I really do hope it was the former.

3. Get a Cheerleader: I don't think I would have survived without the several freak-out emails I sent to Ingrid. She was wonderful throughout the whole process. 

You're welcome to contact me at brycekozla at gmail dot come or get at me on Twitter to be your cheerleader, but understand our communication will be less cheering and more animated GIFs (if you like those).

A few things to remember before I let you go:
--You may not want to apply if you're in school, or if you're not ready to be seen. I'm not sure how I would've handled Emerging Leaders if I were in school still, because it's essentially another long-distance group project. It can get a bit overwhelming. Also, you won't have much national notoriety but if you weren't on the radar of everyone at your library before, you sure will be now. If you're not ready for that; for instance, if you're just starting out, wait a year or two.

--You'll still be you. I'm now Done-Emerged. I still spray perfume on my blazer when it really should have been washed at least once a month; I still wear sweat socks with dress clothes or, on the occasion that I'm wearing black socks, they don't match. I still can't make it three days without my kitchen counter filling up with trash from God Knows Where. All the things that may or may not make me feel loser-like on a daily basis are still there. Just, a few more people might be paying attention now. I'm self-aware and I own my flaws, and you might have to, too. It would be so exhausting otherwise.

--If you're not accepted, you'll still rock. For every great person I've met because of Emerging Leaders, there's someone who's equally awesome who has not been an Emerging Leader. In addition, there are library hiring managers who have said that they would not consider someone a viable candidate if they had been in the program, whether for their perceived dedication to national endeavors over their local libraries, or for the assumed hubris that comes with being recognized at all. Nothing that I would suggest NOT applying over, but something to consider. The latter  isn't me because of my aforementioned loser-dom, and I'm looking to mostly do stuff within my state the next few years to dispel the first misconception.

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