2021 ARSL Candidate Statements

Vice President/President Elect - Treasurer - Secretary
Regional Board Director, Northeast - Regional Board Director, South

Vice President/President Elect

John Clexton

"When I graduated from Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science, I was unsure what type of Librarian I wanted to be. I was lucky to serve in a variety of library settings - from academic to urban to suburban, and even online (WAY before COVID). Where I currently am serving is as Director for Gladwin County District Library, a rural library district with two small libraries in our county. Having been here a little over a year, I have to say nothing has felt more right then where I am at.

Throughout my career I have served on many boards and committees, really too many to list all of them here. But some of my highlights are as follow.

  • Executive committees for Strategic Planning
  • Library construction projects which included building two new libraries from concept/design to grand opening.
  • President of our local library union, as well as participation in labor negotiations, policy relations, etc.
  • Emergency Hurricane committee during my time as Regional Director of St. Croix.
Currently I sit on the following boards
  • Gladwin County Economic Development Board
  • Beaverton Activity Center Board
  • Valley Library Consortium

I think my greatest skill is the ability to communicate and work with other members on any subject. From my experience with labor negotiations I feel one of my strengths is separating personal and professional politics from a subject matter and focusing on the real issue. I also feel I am strong at bringing groups of people together to work at solving problems collectively rather than as a splintered faction.

I feel passionately about the ARSL mission because it speaks for the unheard in the library community. Too many times I have seen large libraries or those in economically wealthy communities take center stage in achievement based on their geographic or economic position. It is through collaborations among libraries such as ours that serve rural and small-town libraries that we can achieve great things. After all, strength and unity come in numbers, and in that we can be the spoken voice of the unheard.

In my experience from transferring from a large suburban library to a rural library, I took great comfort in the resources and support that ARSL gave me. The connection with libraries like mine across the United States affords cooperation and a spirit of comradery which were incredibly helpful to me and something I would like to pay back by contributing to the success and the mission of ARSL.

Bailee Hutchinson

My name is Bailee Hutchinson and I love rural libraries, the communities they serve, and sharing these passions with others. I am from a very rural area of Oklahoma, so small communities matter to me. Though I consider myself an accidental librarian, I have found my true calling. Upon moving to a small town in West Tennessee, I saw that the library was searching for a director. My initial thought was, “Working at a library can’t be that hard, right?”

I had never worked in a library; my previous experience was in the mental health field, yet I knew I had discovered my true passion in this tiny library in Tennessee. Fast forward to 2017 when my director shared an email about the ARSL conference to be held in St. George, Utah. After researching the organization and past annual conferences, I decided to apply for one of the scholarships provided by ARSL. I was absolutely stunned and excited to find out I was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2017 conference. Leading up to the conference, I became heavily involved in the amazing ARSL listserv. It truly carried me through my first two years as a first time director and continues to enrich my professional life on a daily basis.

Upon returning from the conference, I knew I had found my people in the ARSL membership and community. I volunteered to serve on the Marketing Committee and soon became the committee chair. The following year I ran for a board position and was selected to serve a three year term. I have since moved back to my home state of Oklahoma and am managing the Altus Public Library within the Southern Prairie Library System and currently working on my MLIS through Oklahoma University. I am also involved in my state library association, ALA, and YALSA.

I am passionate about community engagement, accessibility, diversity, and people. These experiences and my passion to serve will assist me to lead the ARSL membership in the role of president-elect. I am committed to continuing to bring forward the diverse voices in our small, rural and tribal libraries. This includes advocacy at a national level, increasing our diversity initiatives and member benefits. Thank you for your consideration and I truly look forward to working with all of you.

Mary Soucie

I am very passionate about small and rural libraries and have spent my 20 plus years as a librarian working in or with small libraries from my time as a Youth Services Librarian and a Public Library Director to my time as a consultant at a Regional Library System serving school and youth services librarians to my current position as State Librarian.

Through my time serving on the Board of ARSL, I have learned so much about why this organization is so impactful and important to the members across the country and I would be honored to continue the work that the Board has accomplished. The most important part of my job is to advocate for libraries at the local, state, regional and national levels and I would be able to use those skills as the Vice President/President Elect of ARSL.

ARSL is one of the most impactful Library Associations that I have been part of and I have seen firsthand the impact that ARSL has on its members and the important role that ARSL serves in representing small and rural libraries at the national level. In addition to serving as a Board member, I also served as the Advocacy Committee Chair for two years. I am currently serving as chair of the Governance Committee. I was on conference committee for two years and was one of the primary people working at registration desk for the last two national conferences. Working the registration desk at conference has given me the chance to get to know many ARSL members and I continue to be so impressed with the amazing things that ARSL members accomplish.

I have served as a board member for state, regional and library associations and have a combined 14 years serving on boards. I have served as a mentor for multiple library associations and it has been so rewarding. I believe that my experience serving on boards and the many roles that I have served in as a librarian have given me the skillset needed to serve as President of ARSL.


 

Treasurer

Becky Heil 

I would be honored to serve again on the Association for Rural & Small Libraries Board of Directors. I began my career as a children’s librarian at a county library system in rural Iowa. After the former director retired, I moved into the director’s role. Over the 20 years I served as director, I worked to repair relationships with the cities I served, doubling the budget and the staff in a few years. The largest community we served had a population of 4,000 people, the smallest had 310. I planned three new branches, built and renovated several buildings and managed many grants. It was during that time that I was asked to participate in a summit in Clarion Pennsylvania, to form the beginnings of ARSL. We dreamed some very large goals at that time, including having 1,000 members (we started with 79) and having a seat at the national library table. I was thrilled to hear last year, that we cracked that goal and I have watched with delight the impact ARSL is having on the national stage.

I am currently working as a consultant for The State Library of Iowa, where I work with 93 public libraries. While I always understood the relationship between a library and its community, working with these libraries has really driven home to me the value that an outstanding library adds to their community. I believe strongly that every citizen deserves equal access to information and all the services libraries provide, particularly in small and rural communities. I admire the many librarians I have gotten to know and their dedication to that ideal. ARSL is the perfect place for librarians to get support, share their knowledge, and ask for help. I have promoted this organization for years to librarians statewide and have enjoyed watching them become leaders in the association and in their local communities.

I have been off the board since 2013 and feel the time is right to rejoin the board as treasurer. I have time to devote to ARSL and have extensive experience with budgeting, having served as treasurer for several years, as well as conference treasurer. I would like to be part of the process guiding the association as it moves to the next level. As ARSL turns a new page, it would be my privilege to serve this organization as treasurer.

Lisa Lewis

I am currently serving on the ARSL board as the Immediate Past President and the interim Treasurer.  I am interested in continuing on as the treasurer based on my current involvement in our transition from a working board to a governing board.  Because I have been involved in this process from the conception, I feel a strong responsibility to this work and feel that I need to see it through.   

Just like many of my fellow librarians across the country, I am in charge of my library budget that includes creating a yearly budget to present to our city council and making necessary adjustments.  I am responsible for  payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable.  I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and since I have been a member of this organization for 11+ years, I have seen the tremendous growth and feel that accountability is critical as we continue to grow. 

I believe that I would be a great asset in this position based on my budget experience and my experience being on the board at the start of this adventure.  I am extremely dedicated to this association and have been since my first conference that was held in Tennessee.  I feel strongly that the direction this association is headed is the right direction and I know that the changes that are happening are necessary and needed.  ARSL has been more than just a library association to me. 

Many decisions I have made, programs, activities, polices, etc.,  that I have put into place at my library have been as a direct result from listserv discussions, break-out sessions at the annual conferences, or networking opportunities with fellow ARSL members.  ARSL is my main support group.  The benefits I have received through my membership are priceless!  I have made life long friends that I treasure and it means so much to know that I am not alone in this very unique job as a library director in a rural and small library!


 

Secretary

Victoria Mironenko

My name is Victoria and currently I am a graduate student pursuing Master’s of Library and Information Science at the University of Arizona. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Arizona, as well. I am also a page at Nanini Library, one of Pima County Public Library Branches’ here in Tucson. I would love to pursue a career in Public Librarianship which is why I am pursuing Library and Information Science at the University of Arizona, and why serving on the ASRL Board would be a great opportunity for me to learn and grow on my path to becoming a librarian one day.

Having the experience working as a page at Nanini Public Library gave me not only hands on vital job skills, but also the technological and communicational aspects which helped me tremendously all throughout my college years and led me to this point. While working at the library, I realized that I love helping and connecting people with information. Being able to be creative in organization of children’s library events, maintenance of library material, performing minor clerical tasks, providing customer service, and implementing technology to help patrons are just a few of the most rewarding experiences and accomplishments of my time in the library.

Besides being a member of ARSL, I am also a member of American Library Association which increased my understanding of issues surrounding the library world. I am also proud to say that at the 2019 AZLA Annual Conference and Service Awards, I was awarded with the “Friends of the Oro Valley Public Library Support Staff Scholarship” which helped me so much with my tuition and gave me an immense encouragement towards following my dream.

Of course, every year the volumes of important informative information grow exponentially. Humanity strives for a world of new discoveries and the latest achievements and developments obtained and in need of a worthy storage. Then modern engineering developments come to the rescue, which not only increase the storage and space of information, but also help specialists from different countries to exchange their data online. No matter how our society develops and what means of information storage mankind does not use, next to this knowledge should always be a specialist, a librarian, who will be sensitive to this world of wealth. I would like to engage in useful activities for the whole society. I want to make my own efforts to create the greatest wealth of mankind – growth, development, and equity of libraries. Being a Russian female and part of ASRL Board would allow me to show that ASRL is all about equity, diversity and library community.

Krist Obrist

I have experience working in a variety of library settings including academic, school, special and public libraries in both technical and public services. I have worked in a large library system (Multnomah County Library) and currently work in a smaller, more rural library. I have been at the Monmouth Public Library for 16 years; 9 years as the Youth Services Librarian and the past 7 years as the Library Director.

I have a variety of Board experiences. My library has an Advisory Board which meets monthly and I report to and support it in an ex-officio capacity. I also served as the Summer Reading Chair and as the Chair of the Children's Services Division of the Oregon Library Association (OLA); am a past Board member of the Public Library Division of OLA; and have served on the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce Board, the Monmouth Business Association Board and the Central Lions Board. I am currently a member of the ARSL Marketing & Communication Committee and served on the ARSL conference program selection committee this year.

My experience in a variety of library types and sizes has given me a broad overview of the library profession. I strongly believe in the role of a public library as the center of a community and am an avid supporter of lifelong learning. Small and rural libraries do so much for their communities, often with few resources. ARSL is one of the best resources available for small and rural libraries. I have attended the past two conferences and both were by far the best library conferences I have attended. I consider serving on the ARSL Board as a way to give back, to learn and to grow. I am a good listener and strive to be responsive rather than reactive to situations and issues. As a leader I enjoy motivating and empowering others to become successful in their endeavors.


 

Regional Board Director, Northeast

Kristi Chadwick

I am honored to be running for the Regional Board Representative-Northeast for ARSL. I have been a member of ARSL since 2017 and have been inspired in my continued work with small libraries in my own state of Massachusetts. Since 2014, I have been a Consultant with the Massachusetts library System (MLS), a multi-type non-profit that provides essential library services throughout the entire Commonwealth, including advisory and continuing education. My initial position title was Advisor - Small Libraries, placed to serve the numerous public libraries in communities of less than 10,000 population.

During my tenure at MLS I have worked to create a Small Library Forum for small libraries to learn and network together, assisted with the initial mentoring cohort of Project SET (Skills, Experience, Talent), and have presented at state, regional, and national conferences. This year I assisted the MA Board of Library Commissioners to create new grants to attend the ARSL Annual Conference, and these attendees will become the next working group for our Small Library Forum in 2021. I am a member of ALA Rainbow Round Table, currently serve on the ARSL Governance Committee, and will be presenting on a panel at the 2020 ARSL Virtual Conference on policies.

As a previous library director, I know that it is not the size of the library that determines its place in the community, it is the staff, their services, and their continued work in the community. As ARSL continues to raise up underrepresented voices, I want to work towards assisting libraries with highlighting and advocating for underserved groups in their communities. Small and rural libraries have unique experiences and challenges that need support and provide inspiration, and I believe that serving as the Northeast Regional Board Representative will cultivate a stronger network in the New England and North Atlantic states, further promoting what ARSL has to offer.

C.L. Quillen

I have worked in a variety of libraries including academic, special and public libraries since 1999 and for the past 6 years, I have been the director of the Spotswood Public Library, a small public library in central NJ. My work in libraries has made me acutely aware of the importance of libraries to communities, especially small and rural communities, and how greatly libraries, their staff, and the people they serve are threatened by budget issues. I believe this will be especially true throughout the rest of the pandemic and in the years to follow.

I believe that libraries need to continue to be places for the community to come together. Library users are the heart of the library and as librarians we must continually strive for better ways to connect people with the resources, services and information that they need. An effective library must provide programs and services that respond to ever changing community needs and must not only provide traditional services, but branch out and find new ways to serve their communities, and work together with local government and organizations to ensure that the library plays a dynamic role in the community.

I pride myself on being a consensus-builder who listens first. If elected to the ARSL board, I will strive to make sure that we engage with, and listen to the ARSL membership as we work to empower and support small and rural libraries across the United States and advocate for them and the important work that they do on a national level. I will encourage ARSL to continue to cultivate diversity and promote inclusion in the profession. In the face of uncertainty and change, an increased focus on advocacy and inclusion will strengthen our professional association as a valuable resource for libraries, library staff, and the communities that we serve.

I hold a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Stockton University. I have been a member of ARSL’s marketing committee and finance committee. I am also a member of the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) and am the President of the NJLA Small Libraries Committee and the chair of the NJLA Readers Advisory Round Table.

Nancy Tusinski

My name is Nancy Tusinski. I am currently the Library Director at the Hartland Library, in Hartland, VT (pop. 3860). I started as a circulation clerk in 2000 in Massachusetts and have worked as a library director for the past 12 years, but the circ desk will always be my first love. My favorite part of library work is the ability to remove obstacles between people and the book, movie, article, information, or skill they want. The second-best thing is making people aware of library services they didn’t know about. My life has led me to small town and rural libraries from day one in Topsfield, MA to my current position.

I served as the Vermont Representative for the New England Library Association (2012-2014). For the past 5 years, I have served as the Volunteer Substitute Pool Coordinator for the Vermont Library Association.

One of my best skills is that of listener. I have had some formal training in listening skills and this has served me very well both in my personal and professional life. I have excellent customer service skills, and as any person who has worked in a one-person library can probably say – excellent troubleshooting/problem solving skills.

It was in this one-person library that I discovered ARSL. This organization and the listserv became a lifeline, as this was also my first library director position. Even though I was alone, I felt like I had many colleagues who were willing to help me with resources, guidance, and support. I’ve decided to step forward as a candidate for Northeast Regional Representative partly to give back to this organization which has served me so well over the past few years. I would like to help create resources that will serve libraries in rural communities.

I am also sensitive to the needs of people who can feel like outsiders or unwelcome in certain public spaces. I experienced some difficulties coming out and letting co-workers know I’m a lesbian at my first small town library job in 2000. And although the culture of a small town can be very different from neighboring towns, I knew that when I was in a position of power I would make every effort to have the public library be a welcoming space for all people and especially LGBTQ+ youth.

As the Northeast Regional Representative for ARSL I would endeavor to truly represent all people from the northeast.


 

Regional Board Director, South

Phillip Carter

I'm a bad librarian. I tell people this all the time. I didn't get into working in libraries because I love to read (although I do). I was a musician and my plan was to teach music at the university level. My hometown is called the ""Birthplace of the Blues"" and I wanted to study, learn, and teach that beautiful musical history. My hometown is also where I got my first full-time job in a public library and it was where I had the revelation that public libraries were where I wanted to devote my working life. I came to that conclusion because I have always believed in building communities and thus improving life for everyone involved and in public libraries I saw a very real and tangible area in which I could affect communities.

Since that time I have earned my Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi. I have served the Mississippi Library Association as committee chair for the Web Committee, the Outreach Committee, and as Public Library Section Chairperson. I was honored to be chosen in 2018 as an ALA Emerging Leader - selected from the membership of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries. I currently hold a seat on an ALA: Libraries Transform Communities Advisory Council as a representative of small & rural libraries.

I love visiting, working in, and serving small libraries. The roles that small libraries play in their individual communities is as varied as the wonderful personalities working and serving in those libraries across the country and I want to learn even more about all of those libraries and help them serve their communities to the best of their abilities.

Chantele Hancock

The Texas Library Association has given me many wonderful opportunities for networking, training and leadership, most recently as a part of the 2019 Conference Program Planning Committee. Helping to plan and coordinate this event, attended by over 6,000 librarians from all over the US, I had the opportunity to cultivate professional relationships and work closely with other librarians of all types. I have also gained invaluable experience serving TLA as Chair and Chair-Elect of the Programming for Adults Round Table, through the TALL Texan Leadership program and as a member of the Rainbow (LGBTQ+) Round Table.

As a Director of a small library with previous experience in a large library, I am sensitive to the unique strengths and challenges of small and rural libraries. I look forward to the opportunity to serve ARSL and to expand my network and knowledge beyond Texas. I believe that passion is my greatest leadership skill and I am very enthusiastic about library programs and service to the community. I have big ideas, strive to do new things, use creative problem solving, and am not afraid to take risks. I do my best to make my team members feel included in my commitment so that they are a key part of making important things happen. I want to inspire the people I work with to develop solid ideas and suggestions to move projects forward.

Jennifer Johnson-Spence

Since 2005, I’ve been the Director at the Cooke County Library, which is located in a rural area in north Texas. Until this position my experience with rural/small libraries was a personal one. Growing up I moved from town to town and my one constant was the public library. It always made me feel welcomed, and like I was home.

We know that libraries are an integral part of their community. Well ARSL is an important part of “our” library community. Being a member of ARSL is a great way to meet colleagues and educate ourselves on priorities for our libraries. The safe place that is created through ARSL gives folks a sense of support, power, hope, and distills the fear of the “I’m not alone” syndrome that so many of us feel in our jobs, especially nowadays. Being an ARSL member is like winning the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I have served on a variety of organizational boards/committees. Some of them are: Butterfield Stage Players, Texas Libraries Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, Cooke County AgriLife Leadership Advisory Board, Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission Grant Review Panel. I have served on several ARSL committees and am currently on the marketing one. On these boards I’ve been: a general member, secretary, vice-president and president. What I love about being a member is learning more about the organization, my community, the community being served and lastly myself.

Some of my strongest skills are my outgoing personality – I’ve never met a stranger; public speaking – I love to educate others about what my library and other libraries are doing for their communities; thinking out of the box - creating library services that aren’t the “usual” ones; supporting my community in any way possible – printing ear savers for masks during COVID-19; very organized – this was very important when I was on the state library grant review panel. But what I found are my greatest skills are ones that I learned when serving on a board for several years - listening and compromising. By using both skills, you are able to notice others strengths which allow the board to work well and hopefully become a cohesive unit. These skills have helped me in all areas of my professional and personal life.

If elected as ARSL’s Regional Board Representative – South, I will promise to server the members to the best of my ability.

Gail Sheldon

I have been a member of ARSL since 2009. During my career, I have had the pleasure of being the director of two small/rural libraries – Oneonta (AL) Public Library, and Somerset County (MD) Public Library – before moving back to Alabama to work for Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) as the Children’s and Youth Services Consultant. Working for APLS allows me to maintain contact with a variety of library professionals across the state and nation because of my work with CSLP summer reading programs and YALSA. I am lucky that, due to Alabama demographics, my position allows me to work with so many small and rural libraries. These libraries, where the real work happens, are my passion. Libraries with limited staff and more limited funds do whatever it takes to serve their entire community. I love that I get to help those most in need of additional resources.

I have experience dealing with boards of all types. Working with boards in different states has taught me that it takes effort to learn differences in charters, laws, and regulations. I have served on non-library boards, also, including local non-profits, Rotary, Emergency Management, and others. I have worked to build successful partnerships with local governments, organizations, and businesses, even when those relationships had been broken previously. The accomplishment I am most proud of is serving a three-year term on the ARSL board (2013-2016) and later being asked to return to fill six months of an unexpired term. Afterwards, I spent time adjusting to a new town and position. I am ready to get back to work on behalf of this amazing organization.

I would love the opportunity to represent the Southern Region, making it my mission to bring voices of this region to the board, and to advocate nationally for small and rural libraries. Voices of members have made ARSL the tremendous organization it has become. ARSL has grown and continues to grow significantly, bringing growing pains. Our challenge is to keep ARSL’s tight-knit community feel throughout growth. My previous board experience brings a unique perspective for ensuring we grow without losing what made us special from the start. I bring passion for the organization, dedication to building inclusive communities, support for those who do in-the-field work, and openness in listening to members’ input. This, I believe, will help us sustain organizational growth, while keeping our unique and special qualities intact.