Amigos Member Conference - Next Steps: Create and Cultivate a Career That Matters

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The 2020 Amigos Member Conference, "Next Steps: Create and Cultivate a Career That Matters", will focus on beginning, middle and even retirement phases of a successful, fulfilling library career.

How do you win a race with no definitive finish line? Planning, of course. You’ve found your calling in libraries and now it's time to plan that career, move it past the middle stages or step out to a new adventure. Actively cultivating your career can allow you to go farther, find more fulfillment and create work that matters. Manage your career from start to finish with sessions focused on setting career goals and vision, assuming a leadership role, succession planning and much more.

Join us Wednesday, May 13, 2020 as we examine all those stages to help you set your own pace and win your career journey!

Open to members and non-members, the Amigos Annual Online Conference will consist of a keynote speaker and concurrent break-out sessions. Members are invited to also attend the annual Amigos Member Business Meeting carried out by our leadership during conference.

For more information about this conference, contact Tracy Byerly at or 800-843-8482, ext. 2893.

Candidates for Board of Directors (Librarian) – three to be elected for a three-year term:

portrait: Dr. Lea BriggsDr. Lea Briggs
Library Director, Northwest Missouri State University

   Read nomination acceptance form

   Listen to a short message (305 KB .wav)

portrait: Ms. Tracey MendozaMs. Tracey Mendoza
Dean of Libraries, University of the Incarnate Word (TX)

   Read nomination acceptance form

   Listen to a short message (195 KB .wav)

portrait: Ms. Mary MoroneyMs. Mary Moroney
Executive Director, Eastern Oklahoma District Library System

   Read nomination acceptance form

   Listen to a short message (281 KB .wav)

Candidate for Board of Directors (Independent) – one to be elected for a three-year term:

portrait: Ms. Kathleen LutherMs. Kathleen Luther
Executive Director, Seminary Support, Concordia Seminary (MO)

   Read nomination acceptance form

   Listen to a short message (362 KB .wav)

Times - CDT
Session Links
9:00 am
Welcome and Opening Keynote - Envisioning What's Next: Growth and Excellence from Chaos
Julie Todaro
10:00 am
10:15 am
Amigos Member Business Meeting including update from CEO
Tracy Byerly/Amigos Board of Directors
11:00 am
11:15 am
Voices from Library School
Chris Benner - University of Illinois - Urbana/Champagne, Celenia Graves - University of Texas, and Alyssa Eller - Harding University
11:15 am
Make the Path by Walking: Creating or Recreating Your Job
Lisa Martin, Hannah Lee Park, Jill Cirasella and Melody Rood
11:15 am
Advocating for Ourselves: Optimizing our Professional Journeys
Jami Yazdani
12:00 pm
Lunch Break
1:00 pm
Making the Jump: From Staff to Faculty
Bridgit McCafferty
1:00 pm
PIVOT: Transitioning First Career Skills into a Library-centric Second Career
Kelly Drifmeyer
1:00 pm
Practical Strategies for Transitioning
Jennifer A Keach
1:45 pm
2:00 pm
Amigos Update: Continuing Education and AskAcademic
CES/AskAcademic staff
2:00 pm
A Single App for Ebooks & Audiobooks: SimplyE @ Amigos
Christine Peterson
2:00 pm
Amigos Update: Courier and Member Discount Services
Courier/MDS staff
2:30 pm
2:45 pm
Closing Keynote - The Omega and the Alpha: Succession Planning and Documentation from the End to the Beginning
Elizabeth Szkirpan

Julie Todaro portrait

Keynote Speaker: Julie Todaro -

Session Time: 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. CDT

Keynote Session Title: Welcome and Opening Keynote - Envisioning What's Next: Growth and Excellence from Chaos

Session Description: Is it imaginable or even reasonable to think about your future today? Yes, in fact there is no better time to revisit your values, understand the concepts inherent in "transferable skills," identify your strengths, and articulate your expertise. Join Julie to learn how to assess the market place of your profession to find out what organizations and institutions want and need in management, leadership and 21st century competencies; how to determine what you want; how to chart your future course for growth in place or moving to other environments; and, understand how to represent who you are so you are able to take critical next steps for what’s ahead.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Julie Todaro is the Dean of Austin Community College (ACC) Library Services. Her professional career includes academic library manager; library educator (management, public libraries,) and public librarian. At the ACC, she manages 200 employees who provide library resources and services throughout eleven campus libraries in 7 counties.

Julie is the author of the 2020 2nd edition of Emergency Preparedness for Libraries, Government Institutes; the 2015 Mentoring A-Z, ALA Edition and the 2014 Library Management for the Digital Age: A New Paradigm, Rowman & Littlefield. She co-authored the 2006 Training Library Staff and Volunteers to Provide Extraordinary Customer Service, Neal-Schuman. Julie is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics across all types of libraries, library settings and non-profit management. She is a library consultant, serving as an advisor and project lead with expertise in all aspects of management, leadership and library operations.

Julie's association activities and leadership focus on all types of libraries and librarians. On the national leadership level Julie was the 2016-2017 President of the American Library Association (ALA) with an initiative focus on librarians titled Libraries Transform: the Expert in the Library and was the 2007-2008 past-president of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL.) On the state leadership level, Julie was the 2000-2001 President of the Texas Library Association (TLA) with an initiative focus "Libraries: Unique and Unlimited."

Julie earned her DLS from Columbia University's School of Library Service, a MLS from The University of Texas at Austin ISchool (including a school librarian all-level certification). She was TLA's 1996 Librarian of the Year award-winner and received TLA's 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chris Benner (University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign) -
Celenia Graves (University of North Texas) -
Alyssa Eller (University of Missouri - Columbia) -

Session Time: 11:15 - 12:00 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Voices from Library School

Session Description: Curious about what library school students currently study? Considering becoming one of those students yourself? Come to this session to hear the latest happenings with library school students.

Their voices. Their stories. Your burning questions. Conducted in an interview style, this session will feature a recent graduate and two current students who will speak about their choice to pursue an MLS, what it's like in school now, and other things you've been wondering about library school.

Chris Benner Bio: Chris Benner is about to finish his first semester in the MLIS program at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is especially interested in art libraries and has interned at the Ryerson Library at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. Before attending UIUC, he graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor's degree in English and worked as a paralegal.

Alysa Eller Bio: Alyssa Eller is the Print Resources Librarian at Harding University's Brackett Library, and she is currently halfway through her online MLIS program from the University of Missouri. Alyssa has worked in libraries for the past 5 years, holding reference and circulation assistant positions at the Germantown and Collierville Public Libraries and Arkansas State University’s Mountain Home library. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Harding in 2016 while she worked as a library student worker. Alyssa loves being back at her alma mater as a professional librarian. She considers libraries a vital community need and resource and is excited for her future in the field of librarianship.

Celenia Graves Bio: I am a graduate student from the University of North Texas (UNT), studying in the M.S. General program for Library Science with a certification in Archival Management. I work at the Lewisville Public Library as a Library Technician II for Youth Services and as a Metadata Student Assistant for UNT's Special Collections department. I am also the Fall 2019 - Spring 2020 President of UNT's Library and Information Science Student Association and have contributed to my university's student events by planning, organizing, and managing a variety of events and webinars. I earned the 2019 UNT Outstanding Student Award for the College of Information and assisted in volunteer efforts for the 2019 DFW Archives Bazaar.
Alyssa Eller portrait Chris Benner portrait Celenia Graves portrait
Alyssa Eller Chris Benner Celenia Graves
Lisa Martin -
Hannah Lee Park -
Jill Cirasella -
Melody Rood -

Session Time: 11:15 - 12:00 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Make the Path by Walking: Creating or Recreating Your Job

Session Description: Many jobs in the library world come with detailed job descriptions, long-standing responsibilities, and clear expectations. But sometimes we are the first person to hold a certain position and must ourselves define, develop, and breathe life into it. In other words, our first and most important responsibility is figuring out what the job actually is — a feat of analysis and creativity we must accomplish in our first days, weeks, and months on the job.

Alternatively, sometimes we hold an established position but need or want to redefine it, either a little or a lot. We might seek to do this because it would improve resources or services for patrons, prepare our library for trends or technologies on the horizon or perhaps even boost our own job satisfaction or career trajectory.

This session will feature four panelists who have created or recreated their jobs. They will share their experiences, both successes and lessons learned.

Lisa Martin Bio: Lisa Martin is the coordinator of outreach as well as a business librarian at the University of Houston. As Coordinator of Outreach, she works with a team of librarians who focus on relationship building and messaging, with the goal of increasing awareness of library services across campus and in the community. She also works closely with faculty in her liaison areas. Her research interests include emotional intelligence and leadership; effective library outreach efforts; and the post-graduation information skills of business students. Lisa received her MLIS from the University of California at Los Angeles and her BA from the University of Redlands.

Jill Cirasella Bio: Jill Cirasella is Associate Librarian for Scholarly Communication & Digital Scholarship at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In this position, she oversees scholarly communication initiatives, thesis/dissertation services, and digital scholarship and preservation services. Her research focus is scholarly communication, broadly construed: recent and current projects examine anxieties surrounding open access dissertations, benefits of transforming dissertation deposit into a scholarly communication consultation, attitudes about practice-based library literature, and the professional experiences of hard-of-hearing librarians.

Hannah Lee Park Bio: Hannah Lee Park is the Education and School of Professional & Extended Studies Librarian at American University in Washington, D.C. She works with students, faculty, and staff on their research and instructional needs. She also oversees the Curriculum Materials Center, which contains children’s and young adult literature and K-12 teaching materials. Her research interests include digital and information literacy, multimodal composing practices, and equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Melody Rood Bio: Melody Rood is the Student Success Librarian at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She works closely with student success stakeholders across campus to serve the information needs of non-traditional students. She also serves as a liaison in the Research, Outreach, and Instruction Department where she offers support for the International and Global Studies Program. In addition, Melody was one of two librarians who recently took over running the library's Open Education Mini Grant and related OER initiatives. Her research interests include open education, open pedagogy, EDI efforts, and bridging the gaps between academia and community.

Lisa Martin portrait Hannah Lee Park portrait Jill Cirasella portrait Melody Rood portrait
Lisa Martin Hannah Lee Park Jill Cirasella Melody Rood


Jami Yazdani portrait

Speaker: Jami Yazdani -

Session Time: 11:15 - 12:00 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Advocating for Ourselves: Optimizing our Professional Journeys

Session Description: When was the last time you advocated for yourself as an individual professional? While most information professionals have experience advocating for their libraries and organizations, less time and attention is paid to the often-uncomfortable skill of advocating for ourselves. Personal advocacy is a critical skill that can help you optimize your professional journey and promote our profession. Participants will learn about the importance of personal advocacy for professional goals and be introduced to techniques for articulating their strengths and value, and actionable strategies for advocacy and optimizing their careers.

Speaker Bio: Over more than 15 years working in academic libraries, Jami Yazdani led innovative projects and planning initiatives, coached and encouraged staff through successes and failures, and guided (sometimes reluctant) groups of diverse colleagues and stakeholders towards consensus and positive outcomes. She holds an MLIS from Louisiana State University, a Masters in Technology Management from University of Maryland University College, and a Project Management Professional Certification from the Project Management Institute. Jami's volunteer work with professional organizations allowed her to develop a deeper understanding of the strategies that best support leadership development. She is the founder of Yazdani Consulting and Facilitation, where she helps leaders at all levels solve management problems, achieve project success, and amplify the strengths of their team.

Bridgit McCafferty portrait

Speaker: Bridgit McCafferty -

Session Time: 1:00 - 1:45 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Making the Jump: From Staff to Faculty

Session Description: Many librarians aspire to fill roles at academic institutions where librarians are considered faculty, but what does this transition entail, and how do you prepare for it? I will provide an overview of what it means to be faculty, how this transition changes the job of the librarian, and the process we followed at my institution when we changed status. This will give common sense suggestions for those thinking about becoming faculty, as well as the positive and negative outcomes of this transition for my staff. I will draw from my experience transitioning librarians at my institution to faculty and guiding several of these librarians through the promotion in rank process, including former public and school librarians. I will address those who want to secure jobs at institutions where librarians are faculty, and those who want to transition their institution to faculty status.

Speaker Bio: Bridgit McCafferty is the Dean of the University Library at Texas A&M University-Central Texas and has led the library for seven years. Prior to this, she oversaw reference and instruction for the library. She has taken on major administrative projects for her university, including recently chairing the SACSCOC Accreditation Reaffirmation Compliance Committee. She coauthored "British Postmodernism: Strategies and Sources" and has written several book chapters about library assessment and library support for nontraditional students.

 Kelly Drifmeyer portrait

Speaker: Kelly Drifmeyer -

Session Time: 1:00 - 1:45 p.m. CDT

Session Title: PIVOT: Transitioning First Career Skills into a Library-centric Second Career

Session Description: There's an abundance of newly-minted library professionals who experienced success in a first career but were led to pivot to a second one - librarianship. I'm one of those professionals, and I found out – often through trial and error - that there are challenges unique to pursuing success a second time around.

I'd like to share my journey and the lessons learned as I lived this transition. In this session I'll share tips and advice – from translating skills and experience in one field to another; surviving the jolt of starting from scratch in areas I already had expertise, to the surprising ways potential employers viewed my strengths (and weaknesses), and how I successfully responded. My adventure helped me to discover a different, more evolved perspective of who I was and what kind of librarian I wanted to become. Come laugh a little and be reassured that, while some of us might have to learn these lessons the hard way, I hope these tips on moving into a library career make your own path a little easier.

Speaker Bio: An Assistant Professor and Research and Instruction Librarian at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU), Kelly Drifmeyer teaches in the areas of research methods and information literacy. Her current research work is supported by a 2018 Carnegie Whitney Grant from the American Library Association (ALA) on the use of positive reinforcement training to enhance learning outcomes in both the classroom and individual instruction. Her published grant project, an annotated bibliography on the principles of positive reinforcement training for both animal and human learners, can be found at She is published in the Spring 2020 volume of ALA's Public Services Quarterly Journal and recently developed the inaugural issue of the OLLU library's Splash newsletter,

Jennifer A. Keach portrait

Speaker: Jennifer A. Keach -

Session Time: 1:00 - 1:45 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Practical Strategies for Transitioning

Session Description: When it comes to transitioning to a new phase in our careers, we may be unsure about how to set the change gears into motion. Why not start with discovering strategies for transitioning to a new job from where you are now? Attend this session to explore how your personality preferences can influence how you approach your transition. Discover a range of strategies based on common scenarios including stretch assignments, job sculpting, informational interviews, shadowing, and volunteering. Don't wait for the next opportunity to come to you. Instead, keep moving closer to where you'd like to be in the future with strategic steps you can start today.

Speaker Bio: Jennifer Keach is the Coordinator of Organizational Learning & Development at James Madison University Libraries. In this role, she supports individuals and teams with a focus on career development, leadership & management, onboarding new employees, and organizational culture. She has a master’s degree in Education with a focus on Adult Education/Human Resource Development from James Madison University as well as a master's degree in Library Science from the University of Alabama. Jennifer is certified as a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) facilitator and as an Appreciative Inquiry facilitator. Her experience includes more than 25 years as an academic librarian working in public services, technical services, systems, and administration.

Jodie Borgerding portrait

Jodie Borgerding -
Erin Gray -

Session Time: 2:00 - 2:30 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Amigos Update: Continuing Education and AskAcademic

Session Description: Unlock the training your organization needs with Amigos’ Continuing Education Services (CES). Our professional library trainers bring the most up to date sessions right to your computer screen and on request. We develop learning opportunities year round for both members and non-members around the world. Get an inside look at our tailored AskAcademic service. This unique CES service provides 24/7 chat reference support designed specifically for small academic libraries.

Jodie Borgerding Bio: As the Continuing Education Services Manager, Jodie Borgerding oversees the development of training opportunities for Amigos members and is the coordinator for the Missouri Libraries 2 Go (MOLIB2GO) consortium. Jodie has experience in academic libraries, reference, information and media literacy, and library marketing and communications.

Erin Gray portraitPrior to joining Amigos, Jodie served as the Instruction Librarian for Webster University in St. Louis, MO. She is a past-president of the Missouri Library Association, and serves as an active member of the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries. Jodie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Missouri State University and a Master of Library Science degree from University of Missouri-Columbia.

Erin Gray Bio: After earning her master’s degree in library science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Erin went on to work in Branch Management, Collection Development and Youth Services for over a decade with Springfield-Greene County Library. She is an advocate for all libraries and recently served as President of the Missouri Library Association. Erin resides in Springfield, MO with her husband and daughter.

Christine Peterson portrait

Speaker: Christine Peterson -

Session Time: 2:00 - 2:30 p.m. CDT

Session Title: A Single App for Ebooks & Audiobooks: SimplyE @ Amigos

Session Description: For the past 3 years, staff at Amigos Library Services have been aiding in the development of SimplyE, an open source app that brings together ebooks and audiobooks from multiple vendors into a single interface for your patrons. Focused primarily on public libraries for now, development on academic patron functionality is in the works. We'll do a live demo, discuss how the implementation works, and what the future holds.

Speaker Bio: As the Engagement & Emerging Technologies Coordinator, Christine works with members to make the best use of Amigos services, identify member needs and create services to assist them. She also closely follows technology trends to discover how Amigos can promote and support these projects/services and possibly provide them as a member benefit. Currently, she guides the implementation of the SimplyE service, an open source app that brings multiple ebook feeds into a single, easy-to-use interface for patrons.

Christine has long been known for her technology training throughout the Southwest, using her unique approach to making complicated topics easy for librarians to understand. Prior to joining Amigos, she was the Manager for Continuing Education & Consulting at the Texas State Library & Archives Commission, where she guided and supported libraries statewide. She also worked for both San Antonio College and the Florida Institute of Technology as a systems librarian, converting physical library catalogs to their first automated systems.

Laurence Zuercher portrait

Bea Ramirez -
Laurence Zuercher -

Session Time: 2:00 - 2:30 p.m. CDT

Session Title: Learn What’s New in the Amigos Member Discount (MDS) and Courier Service (TAE) Programs

Session Description: The Amigos Member Discount Services (MDS) program provides savings to Amigos members when products or services are ordered via Amigos. With over 70+ vendor partners offering electronic resources and another 16 vendor partners in our Discount Direct program, Amigos members can save on a variety of products and services. Learn about our new vendor partners joining the MDS program this Spring and other special offers open to Amigos members.

The second portion of this session will provide an update on the Trans-Amigos Express (TAE) courier service in the TAE region and an update on service with our three courier partners in Kansas and Missouri.

Join us for the MDS/TAE session and learn how your library can save through these two important programs.

Laurence Zuercher Bio: Laurence currently lives in Arlington, Texas, with his wife and 8-month-old daughter. Over the years, he has worked in several different positions at the Arlington Public Library, centered around the multi-service circulation desk. With an emphasis in Psychology, Laurence earned his Bachelor of Science from The University of Texas at Arlington.

Elizabeth Szkirpan  portrait

Closing Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Szkirpan -

Session Time: 2:45 - 3:30 p.m. CDT

Session Title: The Omega and the Alpha: Succession Planning and Documentation from the End to the Beginning

Session Description: Whether you are stepping into a new role, in the middle of a job well done, or preparing for departure, the importance of thinking ahead cannot be overstated. Many libraries are seeing an increasing trend with the departure of long-time employees resulting in panicked efforts to fill big shoes and regather lost institutional knowledge. Yet, succession planning and thorough documentation appear to be a relatively new trend in libraries.

Beginning in 2016, Tulsa Community College (TCC) began a bench strength and succession planning project to prepare for unexpected departures of long-time or critical employees. This recognition of need resulted in a framework for evaluating the bench strength, or the ability for team members to fill one and other's roles in the event of an emergency or temporary absence. Through a series of team exercises, essential documentation was created to ensure that those filling in temporarily or stepping into a role permanently had a better understanding of not only the tools and tasks necessary to complete a job, but also the contacts, training, and pre-identified support networks they may need. This same framework is now being implemented at the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library to document critical tasks and important information while helping to prepare for future decision-making regarding tasks, team projects, and the library’s bibliographic services going forward.

This presentation will cover key concepts in succession planning, such as why all library employees should take part in cross-training, how to get started with your own documentation project, and a discussion of what different versions of what succession planning may look like in action. The presenter will share examples of evaluation and planning documents, and will speak to the similarities or differences between their first succession planning process and the current succession planning process. Examples of good documentation with the idea of succession planning in mind will be shared, as well as ideas of how to measure adequate preparation for succession planning within your own library.

Speaker Bio: Elizabeth, previously of Tulsa Community College (TCC), is a double-graduate of the University of Oklahoma, completing a Bachelors of Journalism with a focus on Professional Writing in 2014, and completing a Masters of Library and Information Studies with a focus on Academic Librarianship and Information Theory in 2017. She has recently been hired as the Director of Bibliographic Services at the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library where she oversees acquisitions, cataloging, and electronic resources.

Elizabeth has completed a variety of certificates, including a Certificate in Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS) and a Certificate in Disaster Information Specialization (DIS) from the Medical Library Association (MLA), and a Certificate in Project Management from TCC. Future education plans include obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Studies with a focus on Technical Services history and changing roles.