Emerging Leader Spotlight: Casey McCoy

woman with light brown hair, glasses, wearing a patterned shirt and pink sweater. The GLBTRT is proud to highlight some of our past Emerging Leaders (ELs). Including people who are members of and/or sponsored by our round table, these spotlights will let you get to know some of the incredible people in our field and learn about the work that they’ve accomplished through the EL Program. Donate today to the GLBTRT’s Emerging Leader fund and continue supporting amazing new librarians!

Name and Organization: Casey McCoy, STEAM Librarian at San José Public Library

EL year and project: 2017 PLA project: “More than Your MLIS: Experience and Continuing Education Recommendations for Emerging Public Library Leaders”

GLBTRT appointments:

  • Stonewall Youth Award Committee Administrative Assistant 2015-16
  • Stonewall Youth Award Committee Chair 2016-17
  • Fundraising Committee 2016-18

Q: How did you first get involved with GLBTRT? What impact has the Round Table had on your life and/or profession?

I was mostly a lurker in ALA when I joined in 2013, but after going to my first Annual as a student to staff member in 2014 I knew I wanted to get more involved in the organization. I was already a member of GLBTRT at the time and was really drawn to writing for the news blog and/or doing book reviews. I more or less became that annoying new librarian emailing various roundtable leaders about how I could get involved while also applying to every open committee appointment. I’d like to think my persistence paid off because emails about starting as a book reviewer turned into being a non-voting admin assistant for the Stonewall Book Award, which ultimately turned into an offer to be a full member.

Being part of the Stonewall Book Award Committee these past two years has definitely made a big impact on my career, especially since I am still very new to the library profession. Through this committee I worked with some absolutely awesome and passionate librarians from across the country, who taught me how to be a better reader, reviewer and all around better librarian. I was also able to work with various GLBTRT leaders and our ALA staff liaisons who were very supportive throughout the whole experience.

Q: What opportunities or experiences have you discovered by being in the Emerging Leader program?

Since at the time of this interview I’m in the middle of the EL program I don’t believe I have reached that reflective stage yet, but as with any program the best experience so far has been meeting all the people! At our initial EL workshop meeting at Midwinter in Atlanta I was in awe of the collective experiences and knowledge in the room. Within a few hours I not only bonded with my project team spread across four time zones, but also met a fellow makerspace librarian in my state to collaborate with outside of ALA.

Q: What advice would you share with new librarians and library students about getting involved in ALA and other professional organizations?

When I was applying for my first library job near the end of graduate school I met with my advisor where I freaked out about the lack of job offers I’d received so close to my graduation date. Since I wasn’t really set on what I wanted to do (besides receive a stable income and health insurance) she gave me the best advice: throw everything you have at the fan and see where it lands. Now this may not be the best advice for everyone, but for me that is more or less what I have done in the first couple years of my career. Does that job description sound interesting? Apply for it. Could I add a different perspective to that panel presentation? Apply for it. See an email call out for committee volunteers? Apply for it. You don’t have to say “yes” to every offer, but you definitely won’t get an opportunity if no one knows you want it.

Q: What is your most memorable moment from the Emerging Leaders program?

Midwinter 2017 was a whirlwind of activities and emotions with the presidential inauguration, women’s march and even an NFL playoff game next door to the convention center. On top of it all I was leading a book award committee honoring children’s and teen books displaying “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience” — which felt more important now than ever. Placing the seals on our award and honor books after hours of deliberation followed by stifling nervous giggles when calling these authors and publishers felt so rewarding as our little group of librarians ended our committee term.

I also may have shed a few happy tears publicly that weekend (so not my style). Whether I can blame it on stress, lack of sleep and/or the over excitement of the weekend, I meant every incoherent word I said.

Q: How has the Emerging Leaders program impacted your career and professional involvement?

Did I mention how many great people I’ve met and worked with yet? The personal and professional connections I have made by being involved in ALA and through the EL program have provided a very important support system outside of my daily library life. Meaning I can reach out to a colleague in Rhode Island or New Orleans with an email to vent to or ask for advice I may not otherwise get (or feel comfortable getting) from my local network. This support system has been instrumental in building my own career while also building personal relationships with friends I wouldn’t normally have met.

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