Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.
Questions or suggestions for this column? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 2022 Spotlight: New England Library Association (NELA)
For this issue, we asked Kelly Parlin to tell us about her role as RILA Representative to NELA. Kelly is a Teen Librarian at Rochambeau Library in Providence, Rhode Island.
What is the mission or purpose of NELA?
The mission of the New England Library Association is to provide educational and leadership opportunities for library staff in support of improved library services for the people of New England. To that end, the association (1) engages regionally in important discussions in the library profession, (2) encourages the exchange of ideas through a variety of formal and informal events and (3) collaborates regionally and nationally with allied organizations. NELA is a chapter of the American Library Association.
When was NELA formed?
Officially chartered in 1963, the New England Library Association is a regional organization whose membership represents a wide range of library-related interests. Its objectives are to initiate, plan, and support regional activities; to encourage the exchange of ideas; and to cooperate with regional and national agencies having related interests.
What made you personally interested in being involved with this program?
Having attended the NELA-sponsored New England Library Leadership Symposium (NELLS) in 2019, I knew I wanted to further my leadership skills by getting more involved in the big picture of libraries. I was excited to participate in the behind-the-scenes efforts of RILA and NELA, as well as network with library professionals across the region. I also looked forward to visiting other libraries across New England; although, sadly the pandemic prevented me from enjoying this aspect of the position. Hopefully the next representative will get to travel to beautiful libraries throughout New England!
What is NELA’s proudest achievement?
In my opinion, I think NELA has done great work in providing career development and leadership training opportunities. My NELLS experience in 2019 was a highlight of my career, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested! I describe NELLS as a summer camp/therapy retreat for librarians who not only want to better themselves, but also their individual institutions. I made powerful connections with the other participants, and I’m excited to run into them at future conferences! I’m glad NELLS exists, and I hope to participate in NELLS II when I’m qualified.
What ongoing challenges does this program face?
NELA is composed of volunteers, so it’s a challenge to recruit new board members due to the time commitment and effort involved. That said, it can be a worthwhile investment to build skills, make connections, and add to your resume.
If money and time were not an issue, what is NELA’s number one wishlist item to support its mission or purpose?
I wasn’t sure how to answer this question, but when I asked other board members what they think, one said that being able to expand the NELLS leadership program so it can be for anyone (rather than having certain year requirements) would be ideal. I also believe that without the constraints of time or money, NELA could execute more grants on a larger scale due to its ideal positioning as a regional organization.
What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for NELA to meet its goals or objectives?
NELA has many committees and also works directly with the state library organizations of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. This has been very beneficial in leveraging grant opportunities, comparing statistics, keeping informed of happenings in the region, and connecting professionals across state boundaries.
Is NELA looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?
NELA is currently recruiting a vice president, a member-at-large, and a secretary for the Executive Board. There are also openings on the Conference, Educational Assistance, Membership, and Public Relations Committees. For sections, the Information Technology Section (ITS) is accepting new members including a member-at-large position, and the Academic Librarians Section (ALS) needs a new chair. Interested parties may contact Faithe Miller Lakowicz, the Volunteer Coordinator, at email@example.com. Alternatively, they may fill out the 'Get Involved' form on the NELA website.
What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?
I recently finished the middle grade graphic novel Snapdragon by Kat Leyh, and I loved it! The story content was wonderful, the plot easy to follow, and the art so expressive that it perfectly captured the characters' thoughts and feelings. I highly recommend it!