Interviews with ALCTS Leaders: Alison M. Armstrong, Continuing Education Committee Co-Chair

Headshot of Alison ArmstrongWhat is your full time position?

I am the Collection Management Librarian at Radford University (RU) in southwest Virginia, a position I have had since 2011. Prior to that I was the Collection Development and Cataloging Specialist at RU starting in 2007.

What are some interesting things you’re working on?

We always have at least one collection assessment project we are working on each year. Last year, we checked to see if there was a relationship between firm order spending per FTE (full time employees) on monographs and graduation or retention rates at the department level. We found that there were too many other variables to draw any conclusions. This year, we will have had our DDA (demand-driven acquisitions) program for 5 years, and we plan to do an assessment of the program.

How did you come to serve in the leadership role with ALCTS? What prepared you, and how did you get the position?

I volunteered for the first time in 2012 and started my service in 2013. Since then, I have served on 2 committees, and in 2016, I was asked to co-chair the ALCTS Continuing Education Committee (CEC). I had been serving on the CEC Webinar Production Committee subcommittee, and I teach two of the ALCTS “Fundamentals” courses. Serving as co-chair of the CEC has been very rewarding.

What do you do in your leadership role with ALCTS?

As co-chair of the Continuing Education Committee, along with my co-chair (Ginger Williams 2016–2017 and Andrea Wirth 2017–2019), I help to guide the committee, hold meetings to allow for conversations across the committee, and collect and submit reports to communicate what we are doing to ALCTS and ALA as a whole.

What accomplishments in this role are you most proud of?

To me, the biggest thing is that we are improving each year, and we hope we have organized ourselves in such a way to sustain our great work into the future. We were very happy to see the “Fundamentals of Metadata” course begin this year. Everyone has done a great job in their role to help make the CEC successful.

What are the committee’s future plans?

For the most part, we will keep doing what we are doing in terms of “Fundamentals” courses, webinars, and e-forums. The changes will be in webinar and e-forum content as we have requests and ideas and find new presenters who are interested in sharing what they know with others.

What other professional activities do you participate in that you haven’t already mentioned?

I am the current chair of the Board of Trustees for my local public library system. It gives me insight into how things can be different at a public library versus an academic library, and that perspective can help when I teach “Fundamentals” courses.

Tell us a little bit about your family or pets.

My husband and I love spending time outdoors together. Since we don’t have children, we enjoy taking long vacations which usually includes national parks and a concert or two. We love dogs and are sadly between dogs at the moment.

What do you do in your spare time?

My husband and I have taken so many pictures on our trips, we started a photography company, Muddy Marmots Photography, in 2015 to showcase and sell some of our work.

What is something unique or intriguing about you that you’d like to share?

My mom said I should be a librarian. I had worked in special collections as an undergrad and loved it. I worked as a page in a public library and….I found things to enjoy, but after being a key holder in previous position, it felt stifling just to shelve books. I went on and worked in spas, retail, and offices and finally had a “what do you want to be?” conversation at the age of 28 and realized that the happiest I had ever been at a job was as a student working in special collections at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I applied for the specialist position at RU and got it. I got my MSLS as soon as I could and applied for the Collection Management Librarian position until I got it. Apparently, my mom is right about some things.

What is your favorite book?

Just one? I guess it would have to be “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris because it always makes me laugh.

What is your professional or personal philosophy?

Working in customer service is great training for any position. It doesn’t matter if our positions in the library or frontline or not; we should all remember who we are serving.

Is there anything else that you’d like readers to know about you?

I have met a lot of wonderful people though ALCTS and am grateful to have found such a great group to be a part of.

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