June 2021 | Beth Kucera

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.

Beth Kucera | June 2021

For which library, institution, or organization are you currently employed? If you are retired, what was your former organization?
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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?
There are a couple of things that stand out. I always look forward to the annual WAAL conference. It’s always amazing and I consistently learn something from one of the many sessions offered. It never fails that I can bring back some nugget of information to my library and try to incorporate it into my own work. Not to mention all the cool people I get to talk to that I normally only get to see once a year. Networking is a big part of the conference, so being able to develop bonds with your colleagues from various intuitions across the state is great. Another function of WLA was that I was also fortunate to be able to attend the WLA Leadership Development Institute, where I was exposed to new concepts for assessing my own leadership skills.

How has being a member of WLA impacted you or your career?
By volunteering for the WAAL conference planning committee for several years in a row (and the WLA conference committee simultaneously), I learned to step out of my comfort zone. These opportunities have enabled me to become more comfortable and confident with trying new things, like presenting at conferences and leading a group. I have been very grateful to have connected with some awesome librarians who have big ideas and are willing to share them. 

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.
I’ve met many librarians who have boundless enthusiasm in what they do and you can’t help but have it rub off on you. But I would say my library role model would be Sylvia Rortvedt, my supervisor from my very first library job as a library assistant at a community college in Virginia. Sylvia was someone you could always approach and was receptive to whatever ideas or suggestions for the library you had. She valued all employees, whether you were a librarian or a para-professional, and she would encourage everyone equally. She was supportive when it came to attending conferences or taking classes for professional development. No idea was too big or small. If you could develop a plan for it, you could form a team and run with it. She was a big proponent of saying YES. If there was a policy in place or an instance where you might have to say no to a patron, she reinforced that the staff could come up with a way to say yes, like “No, we can’t waive that fine, but how about a one-time cut in half?” Her passion for the library was clearly visible and was felt by both the employees and patrons and I always try to emulate her devotion.

Do you have any advice for new WLA members?
Get involved! Try volunteering for a committee, whether it’s for planning a WAAL/WLA/WAPL conference, participating in a division or section committee, or getting involved with one of the many Special Interest Groups. There’s always some way to be more active in WLA. You may learn something new, meet innovative colleagues from around the state, and just have fun doing it all. Think about presenting at a WLA conference. Sharing your knowledge and experience of a program you have done, whether it was successful or not, is a way to step out of your comfort zone and meet your colleagues from around the state. Conferences are a great way to learn something new and to build relationships.