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Angie Ohler: Candidate for Core Board Director-at-Large

Angie Ohler: Candidate for Core Board Director-at-Large

We asked candidates for Core Board Director-at-Large to answer some questions before the spring election opens on March 13. Voting will close on April 5, with results announced on April 12.

Two directors-at-large will be elected to serve 3-year terms (2023-26).

Angie Ohler is the Associate University Librarian for Collections and Content Strategy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (MN).

  1. What has Core brought to your career, and what would you bring to Core were you elected to this position?
    I’ve been active in ALA, including the former LLAMA and ALCTS, since I was a student in library science. Librarianship is my second career and it greatly impressed me how committed librarians are to continuing education and sharing our expertise as widely as possible across every sector of our profession and within the wider communities that we serve. When asked to serve in a leadership role for the Metadata and Collections Section, I did not hesitate and was happy to join my fellow section leaders who also shared my commitment to ensuring our newly merged division found its feet. At this time in my career, giving back is more important than ever. I want this new division to succeed and I’m willing to put my time into working with likeminded colleagues to achieve that. There should always be a place in which those of us involved in library leadership, collections and technical services, and technology can come together to learn from each other, advocate for ourselves and the value of what we do, and find mentoring, networking, and leadership opportunities.
  2. What does equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) mean to you personally and what should it mean for the Core division professionally?
    My family background is working class. As a first-generation college graduate, I know what it is like to feel like you do not belong. As the white daughter of a BIPOC mother, I also understand what it means to be an ally for underrepresented groups. A lot of organizations want to make commitments to EDIA right now. While formal organizational initiatives are important and signal EDIA as a priority, it has to be more than just a volunteer committee, organizing training, or hiring someone as a change agent for EDIA. You fund what is important to you as an organization. You commit resources to it. In my experience, that is where equity starts.. The daily actions that each of us take to enact EDIA and commit resources to it is what produces change. My hope is that for Core, EDIA will be by design, baked into everything we do, and that it’s something we fight for and fund.
  3. Member engagement is critical for the life and health of the Core division. How do you plan to sustain and grow Core’s membership?
    Member engagement is about building relationships. It does not happen by itself and it is something that looks different depending on where members are on that path. Understanding what our members value and need at each stage of their membership in Core is important, and something we should try to understand and value ourselves as leaders. I was delighted to see our current board leadership draft a new strategic plan that highlights membership and value to members, particularly those around marketing our value with existing membership and strong recruitment strategies for new membership. I would also like to see our division invest as well in identifying more clearly what would inspire more member retention, an area in which existing members have anecdotally told us we have not done enough.
  4. What is one thing you will do to make Core more welcoming to new members?
    Investing in the strategies we have outlined in our strategic plan for recruiting new members is a good start, especially those that link us to LIS programs and students in those programs. That said, we know that the largest recruitment of new professionals into librarianship are among those already working in libraries as support staff. We also know that for many support staff, engagement might be limited either because of proximity or lack of funding to local or state library associations or local consortia. Perhaps there is an opportunity here to partner with those organizations in building and marketing new membership in the profession and specifically in our division.
  5. Core is the product of a recent merger of multiple divisions. Is there one aspect of the division you believe could benefit from better cohesion, and how might you go about fostering improvement in that area?
    This goes back to member engagement. One area in which we have seen friction is understanding and embracing the differences in how each section and membership might wish to work together. It can be challenging to honor the past while also crafting the future, and in this respect, perhaps we haven’t ensured that everyone across our newly merged division can see themselves and the professional engagement they wish to pursue as part of our community. We can, and should, do better.
  6. What’s one thing you think Core is doing particularly well and that you would intend to support or enhance?
    We are relearning our own value to each other and to our organizations. There is value in talking to each other, sharing experiences, sharing problems, and sharing solutions. We need more of that.
  7. What’s one thing that you think the Core division should change?
    I’m not so sure there is only one thing that should change. We are in a time of experimentation. Sure, we have past practices that can inform the future. But we also have the opportunity to try things differently, see how they work out, and change course if those new things don’t work the way we thought they would. I am excited about the possibilities.
  8. What do you believe would benefit most from active state/national/international advocacy from the Core division specifically?
    We’ve seen a lot of institutions interested in EDIA initiatives across management and hiring practices, collection development and metadata practices, and confronting technological practices that reinforce structural inequities. But one area in which we have not done enough is in identifying best practices for institutions in responding to and supporting practitioners who are experiencing doxxing, canceling, and other kinds of harassment simply because the focus of their work is on expanding EDIA. This is bigger than Core, and extends across all library organizations no matter what type they are, and is something I would be interested to see ALA as a whole work toward.
  9. What is one thing you want to make happen while on the Core Board?
    We need flexibility. For instance, a sticking point for the Metadata and Collections section has been holding elections for our section leadership, something we very much wanted to see on the official ALA ballot. Working with the Core leadership, we’ve agreed to one more year of holding an election via ALA Connect with the following year seeing a return to the official ALA ballot. I appreciate the flexibility of the board in making it possible for our section to stage formal elections since this was important to our membership. Another example is to consider how we might form groups more flexibly. We have some areas of our division in which people are anxious for a way to connect with colleagues differently than our current definitions of what constitutes a committee or an interest group. Perhaps it’s time for us to consider a third option, maybe something similar to ACRL’s discussion groups.
  10. How will you pursue collaboration between sections of Core, and perhaps even with other ALA divisions?
    I would love to see us connect with each other, both internally and across other ALA divisions, on any number of topics. For instance, perhaps we should pursue collaborative programming with ACRL, PLA, RUSA and others at ALA. There are a myriad of ways in which technology, collections and technical services, and library management might connect to those other divisions. Not to mention common concerns and priorities we may all share around EDIA, as I mentioned above. We should be more deliberate about finding those connections.

Angie’s Personal Statement

As the past Chair of the ALA Core Metadata and Collections Section Leadership Team, I was honored to work with my fellow Core section leaders to help our new division reengage and build its membership. Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard from many Core members about what they hope our new division will represent, how we might work together to create a new shared community, and what it means to advocate for ourselves and the value of what we do as a profession. We share a passion for libraries and the good work our libraries do for our communities. If elected, I will work to ensure that Core remains an organization that offers everyone an opportunity to connect that passion to continued learning, advocacy, and professional growth.

Thank you, Angie!

The other candidates running for Director-at-Large are: