September 2020 | Emily Sanders
We are proud to highlight our members who commit their time and resources to helping Wisconsin libraries and librarians thrive through their work with the Wisconsin Library Association. Each month, we will be sharing their stories and hope you will be inspired to learn more about our programs or get involved! 
Fill out the Lead with WLA form and be connected with other change agents, leaders, and committees that can use what you have to offer.

September 2020 | Emily Sanders

For which library, institution, or organization are you currently employed? If you are retired, what was your former organization?
Barrett Memorial Library 

How many year(s) have you been a member of Wisconsin Library Association?

What has been your favorite or most impactful function or event of WLA?
I have never had an experience with a Wisconsin Library Association function that didn't leave a lasting impression of my understanding of libraries and my role as a library worker. The last two WLA conferences however left an outstanding impression on my job performance and my heart. Both conferences focused on social equity in libraries and invited attendees to ask hard questions. In 2018 I attended a panel about biological sex and gender identity which allowed us to make all of our single stall restrooms gender neutral. Then in 2019 I attended the WLA Pre-conference with Ijeoma Oluo who invited us to identify our role in systemic oppression. This was an opportunity that has continued to influence my work both professionally but personally. 

How has being a member of WLA impacted you or your career?
Being a WLA member has granted me more opportunities than I ever thought possible. Through my membership I have met the most amazing people who have served to mentor me through the ups and down of my budding career. I have been afforded the opportunity to present at conferences and share my successes, teachable moments, and heart with my peers. Being a WLA member has helped fill my resume and open doors that never would have been available to me otherwise. 

Do you have a library role model (in Wisconsin or elsewhere) that has provided you with inspiration or guidance? Please share a little bit about it.
Part of being a member of WLA is having unlimited access to amazing people who invest and inspire. I have been particularly lucky to have a list of people who serve as role models. Leah Langby who inspires and encourages everyone she meets. She pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and take risks. She is the first person I send an email to when seeking professional guidance. It is my hope to as warm, inviting, and encouraging as Leah is. Vince Mussehl who was quite literally my teacher while I was getting my Associates Degree in Library & Information Services while at CVTC and continues to serve that role even post-graduation. He never fails to see the potential in his students and inspires the same kind of faith in all those he influences. Sue Abrahamson who eliminated my impostor syndrome when I felt like I wasn't a real librarian because I didn't have an MLS. She inspired me to forge ahead and try new things without doubting myself. And finally, Katherine Schoofs who I met at WLA and quickly became my closest library confidant. She offers partnership, guidance, inspiration and friendship. Without all of these people I would be lost. They all are WLA rockstars and have influenced my journey. 

Do you have any advice for new WLA members?
Take every opportunity offered to you and share your stories. There are so many people within the Wisconsin Library Association that want to see you succeed and thrive. This is a community that cares about the success of its members. Your voice has value within this community, and we are all waiting to learn from you. If my place within the WLA community has taught me anything it's that I am both a student and a teacher, and so are you.