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Cara Calabrese: Candidate for Core Director-at-Large

Cara Calabrese: 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.

Cara is the Acquisitions & Access Librarian at Miami University in Oxford, OH.

  1. What has Core brought to your career, and what would you bring to Core were you elected to this position?
    Core has given me the chance to actively engage in discussions with other librarians who do similar work to me and contribute to the profession beyond the confines of my job. Core also helped me gain skills and confidence in my abilities through web courses and webinars, especially when I all of a sudden had new job responsibilities. Core gave me a space within ALA to have big picture conversations and feel like I belong and can bring value.
    I hope to be able to continue to help mold Core into a space current and potential members look to for professional development needs and to connect to colleagues beyond their institutions by supporting programming and initiatives our members want and need. ALA is a large organization and helping our members to find pathways to the resources and training they need while being able to connect them to colleagues in their areas of specialization and from other areas of the library world makes Core great. 
  2. What does equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) mean to you personally and what should it mean for the Core division professionally?
    EDIA to me means that a person should continue to learn, grow, and explore ways they can further these topics in their lives and work over the course of their life. In my role at work, part of my job is to supervise staff and see it as part of my job to ensure they have a welcoming environment, feel confident in their work, have space and opportunity to grow their skills, and that they can come to me and know that I will have their back and support them with personal and professional needs. 
    For Core, EDIA needs to be incorporated throughout. It can’t just be a top down push or one committee on its own. We need to create an inclusive space that invites members, experts, and library personnel in to share knowledge and learn from each other to ensure our libraries are providing access and services to our communities. Core is well situated to identify member needs and locate internal or ALA experts or groups who can work on addressing or providing spaces to discuss and learn. Core does well at providing professional development to build members’ confidence in their skills and can work on doing that within the bounds of our expertise while centering 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?
    I believe connecting to new ALA members and having not just Core, but members of Core, talk directly to new members about the strengths and value Core can provide and has provided to them individually can aid new members in figuring out sooner if Core can meet their career and professional needs. As a Member of the NMRT Executive Board and President-Elect, I have been interested in connecting with Core (along with other Divisions and Roundtables) to develop a place or series inside NMRT to introduce new members to different areas of ALA. I think Core would be a great partner for NMRT to work on such a venture. 
  4. What is one thing you will do to make Core more welcoming to new members?
    Personally, I think attending Core 101, Virtual IG week, and other similar events, being present, and willing to share information and what being involved in Core is like and how it has been useful would be a way I would help to make Core welcoming to a new member. When I was new to ALA, it was hard to make connections as the organization was so large, but when I was able to talk to those who were active and hear about how ALCTS or Core impacted them I had a better sense of how I could get involved and what might work best for me. The more individualized or smaller group conversations I know made me feel more connected.
  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?
    Being Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and working closely with the Executive Director, I have seen how fundraising has had a large impact on Core and had been slow to build back up after the merger. I think this is an area where we need a more cohesive strategy. That being said, this answer feels a little like a cop out as I know Julie Reese and Wendy Tressler have been working on just that for the coming year. Seeing the plan in action and assessing impact over the next year with the Fundraising and Sponsorship Committee will show us if we are on the right track. 
  6. What’s one thing you think Core is doing particularly well and that you would intend to support or enhance?
    Core has consistently been strong with Continuing Education (CE). The addition of new web courses has been valuable and continuing to be strategic about what is added is important. Along similar lines, the “Best of” webinars bring highly rated programs to larger audiences especially when in-person conferencing can be out of reach for many. The committee and staff are working to stay on top of topics and discern short and long term trends. I’m happy to share what I encounter on the local and regional scenes. With all of CE, Core needs to continue to find the balance of output and staffing that results in not only good content for members but sustainability for committees and Core staff.
  7. What’s one thing that you think the Core division should change?
    This is not a change, but I think it is more realistic than changing something completely. I would like to see Core utilizing its internal strength, like the Leadership and Management section being able to participate in developing leaders within Core more, since getting Chairs or Co-Chairs can be challenging for many organizations. Without leaders, our organization will cease to be. I know the mentorship program actively in process had questions regarding mentor and mentee experience and interest in developing leadership. So again, it looks like Core members are already working to fill a need!
  8. What do you believe would benefit most from active state/national/international advocacy from the Core division specifically?
    The expertise held within Core I think can continue to improve the accessibility of libraries. We have members specializing in facilities, metadata, acquisitions, electronic resources, and many other areas. Our members’ knowledge can help the profession advocate for increased accessibility of physical spaces, more accurate and up to date subject headings, ensure libraries are providing diverse collections, acquiring materials from a variety of sources, and work with vendors to push for better user interfaces and improve publishing models. The expertise and passion of our members is a strength Core possesses, and we can work together to benefit the profession and our patrons.
  9. What is one thing you want to make happen while on the Core Board?
    I want to see Core consistently end our year with more than we spent. So we can look to increase awards and have more room for Sections, Committees, and IGs to develop programs or new initiatives that Core and ALA members can benefit from. We are on the cusp, and the leadership that the Board and the Core Staff continue to provide is crucial, especially as ALA makes decisions about how Divisions and Roundtables contribute toward shared services and other expenses.
  10. How will you pursue collaboration between sections of Core, and perhaps even with other ALA divisions?
    One of the duties of Directors-at-Large is to be liaisons between Committees and the Board. Attending meetings and ensuring chairs and committee members have the information they need as well as connecting and providing support to groups that are pursuing similar goals or topics can aid increased collaboration opportunities, especially connecting groups across sections as they may not normally have chances to interact before or during goal setting or planning processes.

Cara’s Personal Statement

I want to be a member of the Core Board so I can help guide how the Division is continuing to grow. I want to ensure the Division’s financial health as well as make sure there are pathways for other Divisions and Roundtables to partner with Core. ALA is a large organization and helping our members to find pathways to the resources and training they need while being able to connect them to colleagues in their areas of specialization and from other areas of the library world makes Core great. Being able to see the work the Board does as an Ex Officio member has made me want to be able to engage and contribute more. Now that I’ve got Core as my ALA home, I want to make sure it thrives so others can continue to feel welcomed, supported, and that they are actively contributing to the profession like I have in our Division.

Thank you, Cara!