[Series] Hack ALA: Library History Round Table (LHRT)

12/06/2011 § Leave a comment

LHRT is an awesome organization for students to join because it’s fun, vibrant, and a great way to explore libraries of the past and see how they intersect with issues faced by libraries today. Best of all, there are so many ways for students to get involved that include running for office, publishing in the newsletter, or connecting with us via social media.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carnegie_Library.jpg

Carnegie Library image from Wikimedia Commons

A lot of you already know that I have a slight obsession with library history. That’s why, when I joined ALA, the first sub-group I looked at joining was LHRT (Library History Round Table.) I love LHRT because it’s a nice mix of researchers, faculty, students, and practicing librarians. LHRT hosts a few ALA sessions each year (see the bottom of this post for a list), along with a library history conference every few years. The people who are in elected positions are incredibly welcoming, as are all the members I’ve met. LHRT is an awesome organization for students to join because it’s fun, vibrant, and a great way to explore libraries of the past and see how they intersect with issues faced by libraries today. Best of all, there are so many ways for students to get involved that include running for office, publishing in the newsletter, or connecting with us via social media. LHRT folks are very approachable, so if you can think of another way you want to be involved, don’t be afraid to ask!

LHRT has an executive committee that oversees the group. We meet twice yearly and have our own listserv used to share meeting minutes and such (in addition to the one for all members.) Executive committee meetings are open to LHRT members, and the Midwinter meeting is held via Skype so more folks can attend. I highly recommend these meetings because it gives you a sense of how a ALA roundtable meeting is run, and while they have some formal activities that happen during the meeting (reading and approving old minutes, etc.) the atmosphere is laid back and the committee is interested in hearing from members about the group and its activities. The committee is made up of a handful of folks including Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, Member-at-Large, and ALA Staff Liaison. When you look at the list of names, you’ll notice there are multiple people in each position. That’s because the past office holder stays on after their replacement is elected. This helps with training for the position, but also provides support and assistance for new electees. There are also a number of committees that oversee publications prizes, nominating, membership and outreach, etc.

So, how can students get involved? First of all, tacking LHRT membership onto your ALA student membership only adds about $5, and gets you on the LHRT listserv (where folks post all sorts of relevant goodies, including new blog posts, funding opportunities, and upcoming talks and conferences.) You’ll also get the LHRT newsletter, which is always filled with great stories and reviews. Members are encouraged to submit their own work for the newsletter, so it gives you the opportunity to put your ideas out there or review a library history-related book (and add that to your resume, if you’re so inclined.) Students are also eligible to run for elected positions (I’ve been told that Member-at-Large is a great place to start for those new to ALA elected office.) You can also see about getting involved in different committees in LHRT: there are 4 award committees and 6 other committees. Committees are a great way to get involved if you have a particular interest you’re hoping to pursue; for example, I’m on the Membership & Outreach Committee, which allows me to work with social media to connect to current and potential LHRT members.

Other big news on the LHRT front is our new Facebook page and new Twitter account, both of which are managed by yours truly. Following both of those accounts will keep you up on what’s happening in the world of library history, even if you aren’t an ALA member. ALA is also transitioning to Drupal, which means LHRT’s homepage will be getting a new look (and hopefully will be a little more exciting to look at.) FYI, I’m the new LHRT webmaster, so if there’s something that you think would really help add interest to the site or would provide some useful information, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Also, make sure to go to the LHRT-hosted sessions if you attend ALA this year. FYI for future years, LHRT puts out calls for papers for research sessions, and it’s a great opportunity for you to get a speaking engagement under your belt (at a national conference, no less) and share your work with a passionate group of professionals. I’ve spoken at the LHRT session at ALA last year, and loved how engaged the audience were and how many questions I was asked that both allowed me to expand on my talk and pointed me toward different directions in which I could take my work. I had a similar positive experience speaking at the Library History Seminar XII last September. LHRT talks (and conferences) are great because you not only learn about different aspects of library history, but you get to draw connections between library history and libraries today, both in terms of how past actions have informed current policies/practice and in terms of why we look at history as a relevant and vital part of our field. All in all, I’ve had a stellar experience with this group, and I look forward to working with them more as time goes on!

LHRT events at ALA Annual:

LHRT Committee Meeting. Sunday, June 26 8:00 AM-10:00 AM at the Hilton Riverside, Pelican rm.

LHRT Invited Speakers Panel. Sunday, June 26 1:30-3:30 at Marriott at Convention Center, New Levee rm.

LHRT Research Forum. Sunday, June 26 4:00-5:30 at the Doubletree, Rosedown A.

LHRT Ed Holley Lecture. Monday, June 27 10:30-12:00 at the Convention Center, rm 333.

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