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Letter from Lisa R. Varga: Membership Structure Changes at VLA, 2019

Hello, VLA Supporters!

I suppose you are wondering a bit about this new Affiliate Membership that VLA is launching, and how it will impact you. Here is the background.

Each year, VLA evaluates its budget as part of our annual Executive Committee Retreat in December, as we prepare for the coming year. Each year, we do everything we can to prevent a dues increase for Individual Members of the association. The last time VLA had a dues increase was 2007. It is our belief, that in a decade in which library staff have not received much (if any) increases, it would be unfair to ask for more money out of your pockets to operate the Association. We have been able to sustain the Association with other increases (such as an increase for Jobline postings or increased costs for vendor booths at our annual conference.) The cost of running the association has also increased, but we don’t want to pass the cost on to each Individual Member.

Last year, the VLA Executive Committee created an Ad Hoc Committee – consisting of myself, Cori Biddle of Bridgewater College (VLA Treasurer), Past VLA Presidents Lisa Lee Broughman (Randolph College) and Matt Todd (Northern Virginia Community College), as well as Dr. Nan B. Carmack of the Library of Virginia.  This group began researching alternative membership structures, looking at other library associations in the U.S., and other associations in VA. What we have created – the Affiliate Membership – is meant to support VLA and encourage participation in the association.

When we have presented this concept to library leaders, we’ve said: “VLA doesn’t have a membership problem, we have a participation issue. And the barrier to participation is financial. If we can take down the financial barrier, we hope to see increased participation in Committees, Forums, Elections, Conferences, Networking and Continuing Education events.”

We believe that association memberships are like gym memberships – you have to use them to get stronger. In my 7 years as your Executive Director, I have seen many people reach their professional goals – and one of the ways they have done that is through the networks they have made by participating in VLA.

VLA members come from all over the Commonwealth, and work at academic, public, special, school, government, law and other libraries. They work in museums, at corporations, in rural and urban settings. They work in small libraries and large regional systems, or for universities and colleges with multiple locations in the state. We want them all to network. We want them all to advocate. But to do that, you have to connect with one another. Affiliate Membership brings us there.

When library becomes an Affiliate, every single staff person at that library is eligible to create a member profile on and can take advantage of events at VLA member rates. They can also vote in VLA elections and participate in Committees and Forums. This is true for full-time and part-time staff, whether they are librarians or library associates. This also includes members of your library’s Board or leadership of your Friends group.

Affiliate Membership runs from January 1-December 31 and is based on the budget of the library. (See chart.)  Each organization will have one Key Contact at your library who can add and delete staff from their membership list. (And, we hope, be able to register everyone at an organization for a conference in bulk. Fingers crossed. We are working out the details.)

This is a big change for many organizations, and it is a big change for us. So we ask for your patience as we transition in December/January – consolidating member records may take us a little time behind the scenes – making sure that you, as an Individual member, still have access to your VLA profile if your organization creates an Affiliate Membership. As you know from working in libraries, sometimes the back end needs a little human touch to work.

We recognize that not every library in the state will be able to participate. Or may not be able to participate immediately. We still have Individual Membership if your organization can’t create an Affiliate Membership.

Related to the Affiliate Membership program is another change we have made this year with the VLA Professional Associates Conference. After 28+ years, we are skipping the conference this year and are putting Focus Groups in its place. At those Focus Groups (held around Virginia in 2019), we will be asking library support staff YOUR opinion on the future of the VLAPAF Conference. It is important that library support staff have their own conference each year in Virginia, and Affiliate Membership will help bring down that financial barrier to membership and increase participation.

VLA will launch the Affiliate Membership form on our website during the week of December 3. If your library takes part in this program, we will begin the process of transitioning your account from Individual to Affiliate. If your organization cannot take part, Individual Members will receive their renewal invoices in January 2019.

As always, thank you for support of the Virginia Library Association. Please let me know if you have any questions,

Lisa R. Varga, MLS
Executive Director, Virginia Library Association


Letter from VLA President Jessica Scalph: November 2018

Hello VLA colleagues!

For me, November is a month to focus on gratefulness.  I am very grateful for the career I have enjoyed in librarianship (most of it being in Virginia for the last twenty years).  I am especially grateful, that I will have the opportunity to lead VLA this year.

In order to go full circle with gratefulness we should give back to our profession.  The following are ideas that I feel are admirable and achievable by most of us:

  1. Mentoring someone in your library that is interested in furthering his or her career in libraries.  The New Members Round Table of VLA, will be asking for mentors and mentees starting in February 2019.  Look for information on Facebook (VLA NMRT) or the VLA website and consider volunteering. (If you would like to learn more on this topic, I would recommend this book, The Elements of Mentoring by W. Brad Johnson and Charles R. Ridley.)
  2. Attending local career fairs for middle or high schools to interest young people in our career field.   As part of this initiative, we should consider reaching out to schools in diverse neighborhoods.
  3. Planning and offering VLA workshops in your area.
  4. Joining a local service organization to give back to your community. 

Looking ahead to December, the conference committee will be meeting in early December to start the process of planning an engaging and relevant conference.  The conference committee  will be meeting in Norfolk where the conference will be held, Hilton Norfolk the Main, October 23-25, 2019.  Our executive committee will also be meeting in December to go over the designated agenda for the upcoming year in Roanoke.  I look forward to updating you all on our December activities in our December newsletter.
Please feel out to me by email if you have comments, questions, etc. [email protected]


Regina Carter: Virginia's 2019 ALA Emerging Leader

The American Library Association (ALA) has selected fifty (50) people to participate in its 2019 class of Emerging Leaders. The program is designed to enable library staff and information workers to participate in project planning work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity early in their careers. Each year, the Virginia Library Association supports one Emerging Leader from the Commonwealth. Regina Sierra Carter is VLA's Emerging Leader for 2019.

Regina Sierra Carter is a Teaching and Learning Librarian at the University of Virginia (UVA). She is passionate about providing outreach and services to all students, especially those from underserved and minority populations.

Carter joined the UVA Library in June 2016 and served as the Program Coordinator for the library’s inaugural high school internship program. This effort provided local youth from underrepresented groups with work experience within an academic library.

She served on the planning and selection committees for the UVA Library’s ACRL Diversity Alliance Resident Librarian Program and participated in the 2018 Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians.

Additionally, she is a member of the Global Initiatives Group, which is comprised of librarians who are dedicated to social justice and ensuring that the library’s collections and programming are diverse, inclusive, and timely. Carter strives to ensure that the UVA Libraries are spaces where all students are welcome and can receive the information, tools, and support that they need to succeed at UVA and beyond.

Carter earned her B.A. in English from the University of South Carolina-Columbia, an Ed.M. in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from UIUC. She is a former Fulbright English Teaching Assistant whose research interests include: the history of Black librarianship in North America, multicultural children's literature, and storytelling.

For more information about the American Library Association's Emerging Leader Program, please read this news release and visit the Emerging Leaders Program website.


Perspective from Clint Rudy, 2018 VLA Conference Chair

Hello everyone!

I wanted to start by thanking everyone who participated in this year’s conference.  Special thanks to Todd Elliott, VLA Past President, Lisa Varga, VLA Executive Director, and the entire Conference Committee as well as all of the volunteers.  It is truly a team effort to make something like this successful.

One of my priorities for this year’s conference was to solicit feedback about the entire conference experience.  This involved several surveys (online and in person), thought boards, and small group discussions.   Now that we have had time to review and analyze the information, I wanted to take the time to share a few things about the conference planning process.  I had no idea how many details, decisions, and “no win” situations were involved.  

Things I learned as Conference Chair:   
Conference Venue:  There are very, very few locations in Virginia that are able to accommodate an event our size.   This means that the conference experience will almost always involve limited parking, lodging spread across several hotels, limited meal options, crowded rooms, limited seating/tables, and lots of distance between all of the above.   

Sessions:  This year’s theme was “revolution” and the committee was very strict about selecting sessions that met the defined selection criteria.  The committee is generally limited to the proposals submitted, but did make an effort to try to recruit additional proposals from outside Virginia and outside “library land.”  Once a session is selected, the committee has no control over the actual content of the session or presentation style.                  

Food:  As mentioned above, there are very, very few venues that offer the desired number of dining options in a very close proximity.  The food options from the venue itself are often much costlier than most people expect.  VLA subsidizes the difference between the cost of your meal ticket at the actual hotel cost.

Options:  With almost 600 attendees, it is super challenging to try to meet the needs of so many people with diverse interests and needs.   Each option considered comes with risks of conflicting with other things, associated costs, marketing, etc.  The philosophy is to try and provide as much as possible to as many people as possible while also being inclusive to everyone.     

So, my take-aways from my own experience:
Expect lots of walking, arrive early (if you can) to account for parking, plan food/dining options ahead of time, submit session proposals and aggressively encourage colleagues to do the same, research the hotel/conference center/surrounding area ahead of time, force meaningful interactions with new people, choose the options that meet my needs and ignore the rest, and, most importantly, LEARN AND GROW.      

I hope you will also consider volunteering to be part of a VLA Committee or Forum, or a future Conference Committee I learned so much about the conference planning process and have even more respect for anyone involved in planning large events.

Thank you!




Letter from VLA President Jessica Scalph: October 2018

Hello VLA colleagues,

We returned from a wonderful conference at the end of September and we are starting the process of planning next year’s conference (Oct 23-25, 2019 in Norfolk at The Main).  The conference committee for the 2019 conference will be meeting soon to plan and work out many logistical issues.  

The poem below is by, Lao Tze.  To me, this poem expresses a picture of climbing up a mountain to reach the summit of peace in our world.  As you can see, there are quite a few steps to get to reach that peak.  

“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”

In my opinion, libraries can promote peace in our communities by offering a safe place for discussion, communication, and listening.  How can we achieve these qualities?  We offer programming that exposes attendees to viewpoints different from their own; we create displays of items visitors might not come across by themselves. We educate ourselves with professional development and bring those lessons back to our communities. People of diverse views and backgrounds may not have many opportunities to express their ideas in an open forum and we can – and do -- offer that.  Some libraries in Virginia have hosted events to discuss controversial issues (such as, “ten foot pole conversations”) but within the framework of respect and civility. If this is something you are interested in hosting, please reach out to me to discuss a possible partnership with VLA. The American Library Association encourages these events and provides information about dialogue and toolkits to assist you with the process.

There are so many ways we support our communities every day. When you have a successful event, teachable moment, or lesson you want to share with others, we encourage you to consider submitting a conference session proposal when our call goes early next year. We need your voice.

Please feel free to reach out to me throughout this year at my email: [email protected]

Thank you!

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