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Kerry Walton: Candidate for Core Director-at-Large

Kerry Walton: Candidate for Core Director-at-Large

We asked candidates for Core Director-at-Large to answer some questions before the spring election opens on March 11. Voting will close on April 3, with results announced on April 8.

The Directors-at-Large are elected to three-year terms, 2024–2027.

Kerry is the Associate Dean for Academic Services (Interim) and Electronic Resources Librarian at West Chester University in Phoenixville, PA.

  1. What has Core brought to your career, and what would you bring to Core were you elected to this position?
    As a member of ALCTS through the transition to Core, I have learned about the importance of transparency, planning, and engagement. To be successful, Core leaders had to find ways to demonstrate careful planning while remaining transparent about changes and continue to engage their members in blended work. My core leadership values are transparency, authenticity, and inclusivity. I am successful at this by engaging others in planning strategically, while consistently centering the work around the values and mission of the organization. I would bring the same value system and commitment to collaboratively lead the work of Core while continuing to engage members. I also believe in being flexible, nimble, and responsive, all qualities that demonstrate thoughtfulness and desire to accomplish the work of Core.
  2. 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 (EDIA) are at the forefront of the personal & professional work I engage in daily. To engage in meaningful work, I believe in approaching all conversations and decisions with a lens of EDIA. Challenging implicit bias and raising self-awareness are fundamental values so that I can engage in leadership work meaningfully, considering all perspectives. I bring this work to all of my roles, including if I was elected to the Core board. Core’s mission is to “amplify the collective expertise” and within this collective are diverse voices, experiences, libraries, and communities. Engaging in critical conversations to advance DEI is an essential piece of leadership and blending my personal & professional work with the work of Core would mean centering conversations and decisions around EDIA.
  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?
    My commitment to sustaining and growing Core’s membership is best demonstrated through my commitment to sustaining and growing the Electronic Resources Interest Group (ERIG). As co-chair, I continued in my role to ensure continuity for the IG during the transition from ALCTS to Core. In 2023, it came to my attention that the ERIG was going to be sunset since the group was not active. Again, through my commitment to the work of Core and the ERIG, I reached out to offer co-chairing and reinvigorating the group. Demonstrating my personal commitment is one of the best ways to engage members in the work of Core. The same passion and commitment I brought as co-chair, I would also bring to my role as Director-at-Large, continuing to demonstrate the value to others to sustain and increase membership across Core.
  4. What is one thing you will do to make Core more welcoming to new members?
    First and foremost, I believe in listening. Hearing the stories and experiences of members and how Core is both successful and also has areas for improvement in welcoming membership is an essential way to make Core more welcoming. Understanding that large organizations can be overwhelming for new members is important as well. Finding opportunities for new members to get to know leadership, other members, and providing opportunities for engagement will enhance a welcoming environment. Finally, I believe recognition is an effective way to welcome new members. Valuing the work of others and demonstrating the ways in which their membership and work can be of value to the organization will continue to make Core a welcome place for library professionals. Further, identifying areas where there are gaps in membership or where individuals are looking for an inclusive space and creating opportunities for members can also help in advancing a welcoming environment.
  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?
    There are several Core interest groups that have overlapping foci and most likely compete for members and sustained interest in the work of the interest group. It can be overwhelming to determine which IG’s are active, their primary focus area, and methods for involvement. One of Core’s strategic priorities is to “ensure that groups at all levels of Core are functioning efficiently regarding size, membership, areas of focus, and projects.” Offering multiple opportunities for involvement is important but can also come at the detriment of sustained interest or membership if there are competing interests. Conducting an analysis of the interest groups and strategically developing a way to coordinate priorities and work across interest groups could enhance learning and increase membership. Brainstorming ways to collaborate between interest group chairs and their work might also help advance overall efforts.
  6. What’s one thing you think Core is doing particularly well and that you would intend to support or enhance?
    Communication is an essential component to success. Developing communication structures that are timely and effective is important to the work of an organization. I have seen tremendous growth in Core’s communication structures and have been impressed with the individual attention provided to those engaged in the work of Core. I would like to continue to support and enhance planning and development of communication structures across Core units and members, in particular for our members so that we can improve and increase engagement throughout the year, and in between major programs such as ALA Annual and Core Forum.
  7. What’s one thing that you think the Core division should change?
    I do not believe in change for the sake of change and hesitate to recommend change prior to learning more about Core’s current changing priorities. I do believe in a regular cycle of review and analysis that informs decisions for adapting, enhancing, or changing existing structures or programs. I would bring this same core belief to my work as Core Director-at-Large, taking the opportunity to first learn what is working well, identifying areas for improvement, and identifying potential areas for change.
  8. What do you believe would benefit most from active state/national/international advocacy from the Core division specifically?
    Since Core represents all libraries, I would want to see equitable consideration for advocacy dependent on issues that affect public, academic, school, and special libraries. There are external forces (political, social, economic, etc.) that impact each of these libraries in different ways. Further, libraires exist in different geographical environments that affect them differently. As leaders for Core, I would like to see the board consider the current impacts on different types of libraries, and advance achievable advocacy priorities for each. Disseminating advocacy ideas across Core’s units would assist in advocacy work. My focus would be on collaborative efforts across Core interest groups as well as collaborating across ALA divisions to increase the impact of advocacy work.
  9. What is one thing you want to make happen while on the Core Board?
    One of Core’s strategic priorities is career building and recognition. It can be difficult to break into organizational structures to advance and grow professional knowledge and expertise. I can attribute much of my professional growth to strong mentors throughout my career and believe in the power of mentoring others and providing the space and opportunity for personal and professional growth. I would like to see Core develop and offer equitable opportunities for individuals to advance their professional expertise and knowledge through Core’s work, whether through an organized mentorship program or a speaker and workshop series that provides opportunities to advance mobility and experience within the library profession.
  10. How will you pursue collaboration between sections of Core, and perhaps even with other ALA divisions?
    I am driven to learn and feel I do this best by engaging others in conversation. I believe that collaboration is a driver for accomplishing important work. Bringing together diverse voices and ideas from various backgrounds and divisions advances the work of the profession and expands our ability to do more together. Coordinating work across divisions or units can be overwhelming, but one of my strengths is collaborative work through conversations, engaging in strategic mapping, and identifying and communicating needs. I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to use my skills and strengths alongside others to advance the work of Core collaboratively across other ALA divisions.

Kerry’s Personal Statement

Alleviating concerns and identifying solutions are areas of strength I will rely on in the role of Core Director-at-Large. I believe in the power of dialogue and transparent communication to resolve problems, identify areas for improvement or change, and to offer space for individuals to contribute. I will bring my values of transparency, inclusivity, and responsiveness to the role of engaging the Board and members of Core in accomplishing work across all areas. The innovative work Core addresses involves constant change. It will be important to address continued areas of change for Core and its members but also be responsive to evolving and emergent needs. Supporting libraries and professionals through change is work I am passionate about, and I am eager to contribute through this role in Core by cultivating relationships, building knowledge and expertise, and being a champion for all libraries as they engage in the important work Core supports.

Thank you, Kerry!