Emerging Leader Spotlight: Anna Mattonen

woman with long brown hair and bangs, wearing a dark knit sweaterThe 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, Organization: Anna Mattonen, Mid-Continent Public Library

Emerging Leader year and project: 2016 / Assessing MLIS Preparation for Emerging Public Library Leaders (for the Public Library Association)

GLBTRT appointments:

  • Membership Promotion Committee 2015-2017
  • Stonewall Book Awards (Youth) Committee 2018

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

I first got involved with the GLBTRT before I really knew how to get involved in ALA. I was young and hadn’t even started my MLIS degree at the time, but I knew early on that I wanted to be involved at the national level. When it came time for the annual call for volunteers, I filled out the form and promptly forgot about it. Forgot, that is, until I was offered a two-year spot on the Membership Promotion Committee! Being involved in Membership Promotion has been a great experience. Not only did it make me feel valuable and important to the Round Table, I was able to help make some great improvements to our committee processes. The impact GLBTRT has made in my life is very personal for me as a bisexual woman in the profession. It has given me a professional space where I can truly be accepted for everything I am, both as an individual and a librarian.

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

The Emerging Leader program really makes you feel “special.” From a special reception at Midwinter, to meeting the ALA President, to getting a special badge ribbon, being an Emerging Leader really puts participants on the “front lines” of getting to know ALA and the association’s leaders. Outside of learning a lot about the organization, the EL program also introduced me to colleagues from all over the United States (even from Barrow, Alaska! This librarian literally sees polar bears outside of her office window, I mean how cool is that?) I am confident I made several life long friends by being involved in EL.

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

I just want to encourage any new librarian or library student who is even a little bit curious about getting involved at a national level to get out there and start exploring the ALA. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the size of the organization, but I promise, if you hang in there and find one or two smaller round tables or divisions to get involved in, it will pay off big time–both professionally and personally.

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

Being involved in the Emerging Leaders program really ushered me into the world of traveling for my profession. I always wanted to travel as a librarian, but until EL I didn’t really have a reason to. I wasn’t involved in committee work as deeply as I am post-EL, and I know it was that very involvement in the program that has opened doors for me to be as involved as I am today. I’d say my most memorable moment was being in (then) ALA President Sari Feldman’s suite at the top of a fancy hotel overlooking the Boston skyline. The view was breathtaking, especially for a girl from the Midwest. I remember looking around the crowded room at all of my fellow ELs, and feeling like I really “belonged” in the organization. It truly inspired me to get even more involved and fight for the good of the association as I grow older.

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

The Emerging Leaders program allows you to instantly stand out among fellow applicants for volunteer positions on committees within the organization. It truly is a huge jumpstart for becoming much more involved at every level of ALA. I also feel being an EL has given me a foot-in-the-door to leadership roles I’ve wanted within my own local and state organizations. Also worth noting: this is the digital age! So much of our work as librarians is done virtually, so the skills you learn while working with your EL team on a six month project are invaluable. Not to mention while working on teams you have to learn a lot of compromise–something that you’ll need for the rest of your career no matter what library environment you end up in.


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