I completed my MLIS in 2009 working the first five years of my library career in academic libraries, and two years ago, started my tenure as a public library director for a brand new public library. As an academic librarian I had the comfort of colleagues and a built in support network that helped mentor my career choices and provide important guidance.
Making the transition away from academic libraries and the move to a small town in Spanish Fort, Alabama to become a public library director has not been without its challenges. I am always up for a challenge, but there have been many lonely days, and this was never something that I anticipated. The first 18 months of the job there wasn’t even a library yet, and it was just me, creating all the behind the scenes “magic” and foundation.
I discovered ARSL at a spring ALLA (Alabama Library Association) conference in April of 2014 and I felt that I had found my people. I became a member as soon as I could and have benefited greatly from the listserv. Being a staff of 1 for that first year and then finally a staff of 2, starting a new library from scratch comes with many questions. The devil really is in the details. I have found nothing but support and energy from the ARSL listserv where I have posted many questions these last two years and read and found many of the questions posted by others also on my mind. What a wealth of information not to mention support and guidance.
Thank you ARSL members! You all have helped me make better decisions for our new City library. Thank you for your guidance and your energy and for always having an answer and never once making me feel silly for asking, what might seem to some, obvious. At least three directors in my state and one a state over have reached out to me personally reminding me that they are there if I need anything. I have truly met friends on the ARSL listserv, people that understand and appreciate the sometimes thankless job librarians do and understand that sometimes just someone to talk to can mean a world of difference.
I am a proud member of ARSL and can’t imagine not having this resource. Thank you for what you do and for making the Association of Small and Rural Libraries a real thing. There is a need out there and you have helped fill it.
My goal now……to eventually get to an ARSL conference! Maybe in 2017!
Thank you and have a wonderful and empowering year.
Tracy M. Cole, MLIS
Spanish Fort Public Library (SFPL)