January 2023 - Rhonda Gould

How has being a member of WLA impacted you or your career?
Membership in WLA has provided me with MANY opportunities to learn, gain new skills, and grow professionally. Want experience presenting on what you know? Do a session sharing your expertise at a conference. Want leadership experience? Put your name out there for one of the boards (and if you aren't elected the first time, don't give up!). Want to discuss and evaluate books? See about getting on an awards committee. I can say with about 95% certainty that if there was anything I could do within WLA I gave it a try! I chaired YSS, OSRT, and WAPL, was on the board twice, LD&L twice, and finally president during a tumultuous year. I learned to FIUYMI (fake it until you make it) over and over until suddenly I wasn't! I took a chance and ran for president of the Washington Library Association (my "other" WLA) in 2019 - and won! I also learned to not be hesitant to try something new and to pivot when I needed to do that. Many of the colleagues I met through both WLA's have become close friends. Wisconsin supported me when I left ten years ago and I kept up my membership during the intervening years, and Washington supported me this past year when I realized it was time to come back.

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.
Do I have a limit on this?? Seriously I'm afraid I'll leave someone out!

The first person who comes to mind is my Lakeshores Library System director Bernie Bellin. He has mentored me for over 20 years and I feel like need a rubber bracelet stamped WWBBD! He can write the book on schmoozing and while I will never supplant the master I come very close to it some days. He has my unabashed gratitude for encouraging me to participate in WLA. Kate Laughlin, the former executive director of the Washington Library Association (now the ED for ARSL), for consistently demonstrating pure grace. My YSS peeps Marge, Shawn, Rob, Roxane, and so many others (you know who you are!) for their fierce love of children's services. Sherry Machones for comic relief during ALA Council. John DeBacher, who was director at Monona when I did my practicum there in the fall of 1996 (while also taking another SLIS class, working full time, and trying to juggle life with a six- month-old) who taught me that public library work was fun and I was well suited for it.

Do you have any advice for new WLA members?
Take a look those of us who have 25+ years in the association. We need you to love (or at least like) WLA as much as we did and get involved. And share what you're doing - I'm still having fun and loving what I do, and I want to keep learning from YOU.