Two Syracuse University alumni have been selected to participate in the American Library Association Emerging Leaders program. This annual networking and leadership development program is designed to launch newer library workers’ participation in the ALA and other professional organizations. Participants meet at the ALA Midwinter Meeting to form into workgroups, which tackle specific projects throughout the next six months and present their results at the ALA Annual Conference. Participants may then be offered appointments to ALA committees, task forces, or workgroups.

Alumni Amanda Ingalls G’12 and Beau Bradley G’14 are among 50 people participating in the program this year. Amanda is a library media specialist in the Stockbridge Valley Central School District, and Beau is the branch manager of the Williamsport Memorial Library in the Washington County Free

Amanda Ingalls

Amanda Ingalls, G’12

Library system. Here is what they had to say about their work, the Emerging Leaders program, and their advice for MLIS students starting out in the profession.

What do you love about your job?

Amanda: I go into work not knowing what the day is going to bring, really. Working in a K-12 district, I see everybody. So I love working with the elementary kids, but I also love working with our middle school and high school teachers, collaborating with them on various research projects and introducing various resources.

Beau: So far, I have had many opportunities to serve as an advocate for my library and to represent my entire system. From PTA meetings to county government sessions, the opportunity to represent my library and spread the word about our work is always enriching. When I present to these groups, I always try to tell them something about the library that they didn’t know before. It is extremely satisfying to see their eyes light up with surprise, excitement, and possibility.

Why did you decide to apply for the ALA Emerging Leaders program?

Amanda: For the past three years, I’ve seen the bios of all the Emerging Leaders in the American Libraries magazine and I’ve said to myself, wow, these are amazing people working in the field and I want to be one of them. So that’s what first got me interested in looking into the program more. And then, I consider myself a leader in the building, but I also want to be a greater leader within the ALA organization or the AASL organization, so I applied for the program just to sort of broaden outside of the building and get more involved in these other organizations.

Beau: I had known several other people who had been through the Emerging Leaders program, and I had seen how enriching their experience had been…Beyond this, the Emerging Leaders program is an excellent introduction to the library field at its broadest levels, and is an excellent starting point for those looking to be active in the field at its broadest level.

Tell me about your experience at the Emerging Leaders program orientation at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago. What project will you be working on in the coming months?

Beau Bradley, G'14

Beau Bradley, G’14

Amanda: I’m working with four other people…we’re taking a look at this website that the Government Documents Round Table (GODART) has created…that educators and students can use to access government documents. They’re looking to edit, revise, and organize the website a little bit more and make it more user friendly. The other part of the project is to create a marketing strategy [for the website]…So the orientation in Chicago was meeting our group for the first time face to face…and also having the ALA leaders in the program discuss what it means to be a leader, and introducing those aspects as well.

Beau: First, I will say that Midwinter ’15 was my first national conference, an experience that can be bewildering in entirely unexpected ways. Luckily, the Emerging Leaders orientation sessions did an excellent job of keeping me busy during my stay. I appreciated how much time I had to get to know my fellow Emerging Leaders and to network with those already heavily involved with the ALA. Between now and the June conference, my team is working on revitalizing a peer-reviewed journal called Endnotes for the New Members Round Table.

As alumni, do you have any advice for current MLIS students at Syracuse?

Amanda: One thing I have to really recommend to people…is staying in contact with your institution. Because when people hear the Syracuse name, it’s like lightbulbs go off in their heads and they want to know more about you. But it’s important to stay in contact with your professors and other people that you’ve gone through the program with…Don’t just go out there and graduate and find a job and that’s it. Really take advantage of your education and people that are there to help you and that are around you. Look into programs like the Emerging Leaders and really put your name out there.

Beau: I believe that one of the most important things that Syracuse stressed for its students was to focus on the world into which we would be entering and working. When I graduated, I felt as if I was right on the cutting edge in my field. My advice to other students is to…find a job or an internship working in whatever type of library you think you would like to build a career in. It was very useful for me to be learning about something in one of my classes, and then go work in an environment where I was able to see it in action. Beyond this…you will gain invaluable contacts and professional skills. This can also help you decide if a certain type of library is really where you want to devote your efforts…

…And one last thing to think about for those starting to apply for jobs. Your skill-set and achievements are vitally important in the process, so do whatever you can to diversify and improve them. However, those only get you to the point of the interview. There are tons of highly trained librarians out there, but what gets you the position is your own personality. A mind-blowing toolbox of skills with no personality or spirit is not going to lead to a great librarian. Be brilliant, be passionate, and be yourself.

Is leadership something you are passionate about? Would you consider applying to the Emerging Leaders program? Tell us what you think in the comments!