ALA 2009: Tamela Chambers' Take on the Professional Options Fair

Tamela Chambers - chicago public libraryTamela Chambers (left), of the Chicago Public Library’s new Beverly Branch Library, and a new LJ book reviewer (here’s her recent LJ review of Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges—and Find Themselves), has sent us a quick take on this year’s Professional Options Fair, which she attended yesterday evening. The fair, presented by the OCLC Inclusion Initiative, offered current American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum and LAMP (LIS Access Midwest Program) scholars the opportunity to discuss careers in librarianship. Tamela says:

"There were over 60 professionals representing various libraries and library organizations on-hand to dispense career advice and information about their areas of expertise to the Spectrum Scholars. It was part reunion, part social networking, and served as an educational opportunity for all involved. I attended as one of the "professionals" representing public libraries but left with a refreshed appreciation of the many facets of librarianship and some new ‘friends’ as well." 

Tamela has her M.S. in library & information science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and has been at the Chicago Public Library for eight years, five as a paraprofessional and three now as a librarian. She says that she felt a mood of interest and optimism at the meeting, and although there were some questions about housing costs and library salaries in Chicago, the scholars chiefly wanted feedback about "the specifics of qualities needed to work in public librarianship."  Those qualities, for all that is changing in the world of library service, remain fundamentally the same.  Tamela told the scholars she spoke with that the qualities are: a genuine love for people; the desire to help; excellent listening skills; excellent communication skills (written and oral); adaptability/flexibility; and a sense of humor. 

Tamela will be back at ALA on Monday and Tuesday. I look forward to hearing more from her then. Library Journal ALA Annual Conference News

Click here for more ALA 2009 Conference News coverage from Library Journal and School Library Journal.

Margaret Heilbrun About Margaret Heilbrun

Margaret Heilbrun is a former Senior Editor, Library Journal Book Review.