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2021 Core Candidates Interview

2021 Core Candidates Interview

The Core election is well underway, and our staff asked the 2021 President-Elect candidates, Margaret Heller and Maurini Strub to share their perspectives with us in this brief three-question interview.

We asked Margaret Heller:

  1. How can Core work to amplify and include diverse voices within the division and the wider profession?

First, let the people who have those diverse voices lead the way in describing what inclusion looks like to them. That might mean supporting communities that exist outside of Core rather than trying to replicate what they have and partnering for programming and cross-pollination of resources and expertise. Building Core into an organization with an inclusive culture allowing people who are new or unsure of their welcome to find and/or build a supportive space. The danger in an organizational structure that is less hierarchical, and more fluid is that it becomes unwelcoming to people who don’t have a clear idea of where they fit in, and therefore can reinforce existing systemic problems. I think we’ve made a good start with this, but as we get underway, we must continuously examine structures and ensure that people who make up diverse communities have real power in the organization, which will have an effect on the profession. The experience and professional connections that people make in ALA and Core (and other library organizations) give them professional mobility and a platform that others who are more isolated do not have.

2. What is the most pressing issue facing Core?

The connections already forming across types of library workers who would formerly be siloed in divisions has been inspiring to see. That is a benefit of intentionally creating communities with broad interests, but the downside is that it makes it harder for people to understand the specific benefits of membership. Given how much of a shakeup everyone’s professional lives have had, we have to adapt the division to those new realities that didn’t exist when we planned the first few years.

3. Advocacy is an important component of the new division. How do you see Core developing its advocacy role within the profession?

People who have done advocacy work in libraries and library organizations know there are a variety of groups that do this work, and ways of effecting change at many levels. But for people outside of libraries, the American Library Association is a recognizable organization that carries some weight. Core itself is now large enough to make an impact on all kinds of issues, whether political issues or the standards and technologies we use. Working together across a wide variety of libraries and skillsets, we can effectively identify important issues, craft messages, and move them through ALA channels. The recent resolution to Condemn White Supremacism and Fascism as Antithetical to Library Work is a great example of how an idea can turn into action. Core can empower members to make real change in critical issues through providing camaraderie, navigating ALA, and connecting people across libraries to find help and support.

We asked Maurini Strub:

  1. How can Core work to amplify and include diverse voices within the division and the wider profession?

    I think of this as a 3 part cycle.  Internally, we would continue to prioritize the concept of windows and frames – looking through frames to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see our own reality reflected.  Secondly, amplification requires allies throughout the division that promotes unheard/lesser known voices.  Those with seats at the table taking the extra step to turn beyond the typical channels (that do a great job of promoting and amplifying established voices) to lesser known channels and communities.  In short, expanding our social networks to have wider bridges where there are multiple overlapping connections between communities.  Lastly, once we diversify the pipeline of voices, exploring nontraditional avenues of engagement, we explore peer-to-peer models as a way to continue building and reinforcing wider bridges between communities. 
  1. What is the most pressing issue facing Core?

    Layering pandemic economic impact and pandemic induced attention deficits upon a new division whose path is still being shaped, makes an easy recipe for reversion to old division mental models and recreation of the same structures and groups.  This would inevitably lead to silo-ing that would result in defeating one of the central tenets behind the emergence of Core – that we are stronger together and working together by utilizing cross domain experience improves our understanding and application of that knowledge.  This is where Core’s efforts to build on amplify and include diverse voices comes into play – by prioritizing these new voices, we can have an influx of new ideas and new ways of thinking.  Simultaneously, it is just as essential for us to create structures that allow for project/pilot based approaches to new ideas that improve our community.  Coupled with efforts to grow our member engagement, we can create highly engaged communities that are committed to trying new approaches to solving thornier professional challenges.  In so doing, we can disrupt using old (and sometimes failed!) models to solve today’s problems.
  1. Advocacy is an important component of the new division. How do you see Core developing its advocacy role within the profession?

    I believe that membership engagement is the linchpin to successful advocacy.  As a fan of Seth Godin’s Tribes, membership engagement is tribe building 101.  Before we can even begin the work of advocacy, internally, we need to ensure that what Core’s priorities are aligned with our members’ priorities. While it is absolutely crucial for advocacy to be member driven, there’s a divisional watchman responsibility to identify when the need for advocacy isn’t immediately apparent, as well as ignite membership’s understanding of how and why the issue matters and how it iis aligned with member interests.  To do this, we’ll need a few heretics – members who are ready to describe a compelling future and build the coalitions to get us there; members who are willing to go through the discomfort; and, members willing to be part of the movement by talking to one another spreading the idea within the community, and to enlist our peers to do their part in the advocacy landscape.

If you have questions for the candidates, and you want to submit them before the March 23 town hall meeting, please post them to this thread on Core Connect. Register now and you’ll receive the meeting link to participate.

You can learn more about the 2021 candidates on the Core Elections page.