December 2021 | Lee Wagner

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! 

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Lee Wagner | December 2021

For which library, institution, or organization are you currently employed? If you are retired, what was your former organization?
Gateway Technical College, Kenosha Campus

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 think my first conference was WAAL in Manitowoc in 2015 and after that I was hooked. Since then up until 2020 I have gone to as many conferences as I could get approved. I love the energy and optimism and new ideas that come from conferences. When I was at the UW-Colleges, conferences offered coworkers scattered across the state an opportunity to gather that we didn’t often get. Then, as the WAAL Chapter Representative to ACRL I got to represent us in the Chapters Council at the ALA National Conference. Which was an incredible opportunity I am very grateful for. 

How has being a member of WLA impacted you or your career?
Being on the WAAL Board very early in my career gave me a confidence in myself that I don't think I could have gained without it. It put me in a room with Deans and Directors and people who had been around for decades and we all worked together on a level playing field to accomplish our goals without the hierarchy or power dynamics that exist at work. Early in my career when I was unsure of myself, having the experience of working with directors and having them validate my ideas made me more confident to go back to work and speak up, volunteer, or take charge in ways I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing before. 

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.
The Wisconsin Technical College System libraries are doing amazing work on OER and I am constantly impressed with the work that is happening and when I need inspiration I don't have to look far to find it. 

Do you have any advice for new WLA members?
Everybody says “get involved” right? Well, I’m going to say get involved early in your career if you can. If you are going to be in libraries in Wisconsin for the rest of your career, you are going to participate in WLA at some point, and it really does you the most benefit if you do it early in your career. Getting to know people right off the bat, getting experience, and building up your resume will be invaluable in the long run.