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Amy Swartz: Candidate for Core Director-at-Large

Amy Swartz: 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.

Amy is the Head of Library Technology at Columbia Law School in New York, NY.

  1. What has Core brought to your career, and what would you bring to Core were you elected to this position?
    In the short time since it was founded, Core has been incredibly important to my career. I was able to be one of the early co-chairs for the Technology Section and put together our first section event. This has let me work with more people across the division, connecting them across different parts of technology librarianship and at different points in their careers. It also significantly expanded my skill set, allowing me to take on a new management role in my current role as head of library technology. If elected to this position, I would bring my years of experience with the Technology Section leadership to the Board of Directors, and will focus on broadening other members’ professional connections.
  2. What does equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) mean to you personally and what should it mean for the Core division professionally?
    EDIA is a central value in the library profession. Our profession needs to grow and diversify to match the populations that we serve. I’ve served for two years on my institution’s Diversity Committee, and I know that the work to change our deeply-ingrained culture is difficult and slow, but it is lifelong work that we must undertake for the long-term health of our profession. Over time, it will pay dividends with Core, because I truly believe it leads to a longer lasting organization.
  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 retention has been a struggle for all of ALA. I hear this particularly at my ALA committee meetings, which frequently demand a large and exhausting time commitment for little professional benefit. We need to grow members beyond committee work that they feel is obligatory or self-sacrificial. Members need to feel like they belong in Core, and that they are getting professional development, tools, training, and networking from our Division. I think Core Forum is one of the best library conferences, and I’d love to expand it to be more affordable to more members and hope that would bring in more members.
  4. What is one thing you will do to make Core more welcoming to new members?
    Core has already significantly improved the quality of its communication with the newsletter and website detailing ways for new members to get involved. I particularly like the volunteer fair each January, and I would love to do more to promote it as a way to get new members involved in the work of the division. I think there are also ways to introduce new members at Core Forum, like having a special new members gathering and perhaps pairing them with a conference mentor. Across my career, I’ve been a member of Music Libraries Association and the American Association of Law Libraries in addition to ALA, and I benefited from first-time attendee benefits like this.  
  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?
    It has been a few years since the merger, but I believe cohesion is still a struggle within Core. Many people still identify with their previous division, and it has been difficult to rebuild as a new division while still trying to keep some traditions from previous groups. I think Core would benefit from a more even distribution of committees and more partnerships between sections. I know Metadata and Collections has many committees, but perhaps some could move to the new Preservation section. At the same time, Metadata, and formerly ALCTS, had the best continuing education classes, and I would love to see their model for CE be shared more widely and hopefully motivate other sections to create more continuing education classes like expanding the fundamentals series to more sections.
  6. What’s one thing you think Core is doing particularly well and that you would intend to support or enhance?
    The monthly newsletter has been a wonderful and positive change from the early days where communication was probably the complaint I heard about most as a section leader. It really showcases all the activity happening in the division, and I would love to increase our members’ presence in the newsletter, especially if their Interest Groups or Committees hold regular meetings that the newsletter doesn’t currently cover.
  7. What’s one thing that you think the Core division should change?
    Core has improved so much in the past few years, from increased and focused communication, to responsively adding and removing sections and committees, all to meet the needs of members. As long as Core continues to pivot quickly to respond to members’ interests, Core is already changing at the right pace. There isn’t anything specifically I would change, but Core should continue to demonstrate flexibility about structure and openness to change.
  8. What do you believe would benefit most from active state/national/international advocacy from the Core division specifically?
    Core excels in advocacy for topics outside of ALA’s focus around intellectual freedom. There are smaller issues that Core has had a big impact on, like the fact that Core has the NISO representative for ALA—and in conjunction with that has been working with Seamless Access through the Federated Authentication Committee. Standards play an important role in the infrastructure of information services, and Core can continue to advocate for international standards around data sharing and privacy. With the increase in AI, I believe we will also need more advocacy around this issue as we struggle to create standards for AI use.
  9. What is one thing you want to make happen while on the Core Board?
    I’m on the Bylaws and Organization Committee, and we have been discussing the informal and formal liaisons that exist within and outside of Core. It is clear from that work that there are more structural changes that will probably need to happen with Core to accommodate more than just the traditional committees and IGs that make up the division. I’d also like to see us update the strategic plan for the next five years, so I’d hope to be a part of that process as well.
  10. How will you pursue collaboration between sections of Core, and perhaps even with other ALA divisions?
    I would look to create committee collaborations or programming between sections. When I was the co-chair for the Technology Section, we worked with the Access and Equity section leaders to create a charge for a joint committee on Digital Accessibility and Usability. It was hard to create a space for joint section committees in the current Core structure, and the committee work got folded into another one, but I think there are important collaborations that can be made between sections. Many aspects of infrastructure and management touch on multiple sections, providing many opportunities for cross-section work like the ever-popular ILS migration topic, or new focuses like how AI can be used across the library and not just in public services.

Amy’s Personal Statement

Core is my home in ALA. I want to foster growth for Core, and help it become the community where others feel most welcome within the larger professional organization. Since Core’s formation, I have worked on various committees that focus on professional growth and member engagement, mostly within the technology section. This culminated in a year spent as Co‐chair of the Technology Section Leadership team. Today I serve on the Bylaws and Organization Committee, because I believe that having solid policies is an important foundation—and I enjoy the unglamorous work that any organization needs to have done to move people and projects forward. I would be honored to continue working to strengthen this division as a member of the Board of Directors.

Thank you, Amy!