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).
Miranda Bennett is the Director of Shared Collections at the California Digital Library (Oakland, CA).
- What has Core brought to your career, and what would you bring to Core were you elected to this position?
Core has given me opportunities to learn and grow as a professional, through service activities such as chairing the Budget and Finance Committee and facilitating the Core Reading Club; to build relationships with colleagues through participating in the Core Mentoring Program; and to stay current with developments and trends through engagement in Core Connect. Because I have been involved with Core in a variety of ways, both formal and informal, I believe I am well prepared to help others find their professional home in the division.
- What does equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) mean to you personally and what should it mean for the Core division professionally?
Equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility are among my personal professional values, and they encourage and challenge me to make choices in my work that attend to differences among my colleagues. In practicing these values, I strive to learn about and understand systemic inequities, in order to work toward deep and lasting change. Core also champions these values and must keep them at the forefront of the division’s work, both with and on behalf of its members.
- Member engagement is critical for the life and health of the Core division. How do you plan to sustain and grow Core’s membership?
Members and prospective members come to Core with a wide array of needs and interests, and Core leadership should continue to make every effort to learn about what kind of engagement people are looking for. The ALA Member Relations & Services Office can be an excellent source of information, ideas, and support for encouraging member engagement, and I believe my four years of service on the ALA Membership Committee, including two years as chair, have helped me understand member needs and build a strong connection with the staff of this office. Core is well positioned to be a leader in areas of known member interest, such as professional development, and can potentially partner with other ALA units to appeal to new and longtime members who are looking for engagement opportunities in areas like advocacy.
- What is one thing you will do to make Core more welcoming to new members?
Welcoming new members has been an important topic for the ALA Membership Promotion Task Force, which I currently chair, and I have heard many good ideas from across the association. If elected, I would continue to work with the ALA Member Relations & Services Office to improve communication between the office and divisions, so Core would have the necessary information to contact new division members with a personal message and an immediate connection to a Core member who can help them find their place.
- 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?
I was present at the establishment of Core and participated in some of the planning for the new division. I tried to think of the founding of Core less as a merger and more as the creation of something new, but there certainly were, and still are, opportunities to incorporate the best of the three former divisions into Core. For example, as a member of the Core Fundraising and Sponsorships Committee, I see how the different approaches to these activities that were taken by ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA are sometimes in tension, and the committee is striving to turn the legacy of the former divisions’ work into a strong program for Core’s future. To help ease these practical challenges, I would encourage patience and perseverance, understanding that change takes time, while focusing on concrete progress that will help Core members see what is possible.
- What’s one thing you think Core is doing particularly well and that you would intend to support or enhance?
Core is leading ALA in demonstrating that big change is possible, and the results can be great. I want Core to be a place where members who seek to make a difference are empowered and equipped to do so, and I think Core leadership and staff have done a great job of being accessible and responsive to members. I would like to continue to build a strong culture of member engagement, beginning with prospective Core members, all the way through members who have been part of ALA and its divisions for decades.
- What’s one thing that you think the Core division should change?
I would like Core to focus more effort on recruiting new members and engaging them quickly in the activities that best suit their needs and interests.
- What do you believe would benefit most from active state/national/international advocacy from the Core division specifically?
Core’s focus on “leadership, infrastructure, futures” makes it a natural fit for advocacy for national and international technology and information standards. Although the importance of standards is not always recognized (since they tend to fall into the category of “if they do what they’re supposed to, no one will notice them”), they are vital to the interoperability of systems and the day-to-day functioning of libraries and other information organizations. Core could also be a strong advocate for the value of the work of its members, which can go unnoticed and unappreciated.
- What is one thing you want to make happen while on the Core Board?
Because of my extensive background in budget and finance work, both within and beyond Core and ALA, I am eager to help Core manage its budget effectively during a time of significant challenge and change for ALA. Especially if the Operating Agreement (the terms that define the relationship, especially the financial relationship, between ALA and the divisions) changes significantly, Core will have a great opportunity to rethink how it structures, strategizes for, and communicates about its finances, and I would welcome the opportunity to help bring about positive change in this area.
- How will you pursue collaboration between sections of Core, and perhaps even with other ALA divisions?
As a Core Board Member-at-Large, I would seek out opportunities to incentivize cross-sectional collaboration and highlight programming that addresses topics and themes relevant to multiple sections. I would also use my ALA-level committee service and the network of relationships I have established in ALA to identify and pursue common interests and goals with other divisions by, for example, co-sponsoring conference and other professional development programs.
Miranda’s Personal Statement
As a Core Director-at-Large, I would focus my attention on two areas: member engagement and financial sustainability. As ALA’s newest division, Core is well positioned to invest in the needs and interests of its members, providing opportunities for them to learn, collaborate, and serve, as their careers and the profession evolve. As a member of the Core Board, I would be eager to learn about what Core members want from their association and how Core leaders, members, and staff can work together to respond to those interests. At the same time, my many years of professional service as a member and leader of finance-focused committees and working groups have made me keenly aware of the importance of structures and systems that ensure adequate resources and strategically allocate them to support Core’s mission. I believe I am well qualified to help Core balance its ambitious aspirations and its fiscal realities.
Thank you, Miranda!
The other candidates running for Director-at-Large are: