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CLA Elections 2017 - Jamie Poirier
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Jamie Poirier, San Rafael Public Library


Jamie Poirier (née Finley) is the Technical Services Supervisor for the San Rafael Public Library, since November 2016. Prior to working for San Rafael, Jamie worked for the Roseville Public Library for over 10 years in positions ranging from page to Librarian. She excels at event planning and promotions; community relations; and, specifically for the California Library Association, member engagement. In addition to her work on the Membership and Conference Planning committees for the California Library Association, Jamie has also volunteered her time to other nonprofits and agencies. Jamie has a member-focused approach to CLA and believes that by assisting current and future members in leadership, networking, and experience sharing we will see California libraries lead the nation.



Candidate Statement

I’m Jamie Poirier (pronounced Pour-Yay!), but you may also know my alter-ego with the less complex last name: Jamie Finley. For the past few years I’ve been really active at organizing and advertising opportunities and swag from the California Library Association Membership Committee such as free professional headshots at conference and I currently hold (per Vanessa Christman) the title of Ignite! Tzar. Through conference Ignite Sessions I’ve worked with many CLA members and new conference presenters to put on some really engaging and well-received conference programing.

In my day job I’m the Technical Services Supervisor for the San Rafael Public Library and prior to this role I worked for the Roseville Public Library in a variety or roles- ending up as a Librarian II.

As the Chair of CLA’s Membership Committee, and a member for 2 years before I was the chair, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and listen to many members and non-members while working at the Conference Membership booth. I’m running for a spot on the Board of Directors in order to go beyond my current level of engagement and act on some of the amazing ideas I’ve heard from members over the years. I think adding a member-focused perspective to the California Library Association’s Board will be extremely valuable. 

Many of our current members don’t know how or when to get more involved. I’ve heard before that “CLA is only for directors, or those new to the profession,” but that’s just not true. If elected to the Board, I will work on creating opportunities that are inclusive to all types and all levels of membership. The organization is missing opportunities by not having more offerings for groups such as support staff, special and academic librarians, and new managers. I also believe strongly in the need for a stronger and more consistent mentoring program and I wholeheartedly support CLA’s efforts to build a name for itself in leadership development. 

I’ve had the absolute pleasure of meeting many of my friends and mentors through my work with CLA. My awesome network has helped me solve some complex and difficult professional challenges. As your Board Member I will work to formalize and strengthen what I feel is the best part of participation in the organization: networking, mentoring, and the exchange of exciting new ideas. 



  1. How do you define leadership?
    Leadership is inspiring others to do their best. It’s working to bring others on board and finding ways to give them opportunities to take on new projects and roles- for their own growth and for the good of the organization. Leadership is also about being open about both failures and successes, because I’m sure most of us have had a less-than-successful experience and I think there’s so much to be gained by talking openly about failure and how to creatively move forward.

  2. Why are you interested in this position?
    I am already an active member of the California Library Association, and I often find myself attending Board and Conference Committee meetings to present on new ideas from the Membership Committee- as I’ve been the chair of that committee for the past two years and I’m really excited about the ideas and services we’ve generated (like Headshots, and in bringing Ignite! Presentations to Conference). I really want to go beyond my current level of engagement to contribute a “member-focused” perspective to the California Library Association’s Board. Also, through the Membership Committee I often find myself advocating for front-line staff both in small/rural libraries and larger institutions – especially for prospective members who are unable to attend conference. I believe that CLA needs to find ways of providing enriching experiences for these members including networking opportunities, mentorship options, and other membership perks. I want to advocate at a different level that what I’ve currently experienced, and believe Board Member At-Large would afford me that opportunity.

  3. How would you describe your personal leadership/communication style?
    (My caveat here is that I’ve taken just about every leadership/communication style test/indicator there is.) I’m an energetic leader and communicator; one who likes to celebrate small and large successes. Direct and straight-forward communication is something that I’m known for. I don’t hesitate to speak up, but balance that by listening carefully to others’ ideas and solutions. I’m also upbeat, and not afraid to roll up my sleeves when a crisis arises and we all need to chip in to help get something done.

  4. What strengths would you bring to the position?
    First, I have experience working with many CLA Board Members through my work with the Membership Committee, and I’ve cultivated good relationships with Board Members and CLA staff. I would be able to “hit the ground running” with projects, too, because I’ve learned quite a bit already about the structure of the organization and its strengths and challenges. I’m eager to learn and want to contribute to projects - large and small. I’m also a great mediator (though I admit to playing devil’s advocate when needed) and like to make all members of the groups I work with feel appreciated and valued. I’m known for finding the silver lining of any situation, and consider myself a realist with an optimistic outlook (meaning I want things to always work out, but know that’s not always possible.)

  5. What experience do you bring to this position?
    I’ve been actively involved in the California Library Association for four years, and a personal member for ten years. I’ve chaired an interest group (Marketing & Public Relations), chaired a working committee (Membership Committee), and been an active member of a working committee (Membership.) I’ve held many different library positions - from library page, to library assistant, to library specialist, to librarian, to library supervisor – and know what the challenges are that many front-line staff face working in California libraries.

  6. What issues or trends are particularly informing your work at this time?
    I think one trend that is concerning to me, and most library staff members too, is the steady increase in demand for innovative library services and programs (and space) combined with general financial instability in government budgets- how do you balance that and find the best solution for your community? I’m especially concerned, too, with the proposed cuts to IMLS funding because that’s a great motivator for innovative new ideas in the State. Also, as someone with experience in marketing, I also believe in the importance of effective messaging for library advocacy and in adapting knowledge from other industries who do this really well.

  7. Who are the thought leaders (in libraries or in other fields) who interest you?
    There are many people and organizations that I try to follow. One of them, Sarah Houghton, I have the pleasure of working with but have followed for many years before starting work at the San Rafael Public Library. Sarah is a national leader in information/web privacy; she has worked diligently to strengthen library advocacy efforts to keep the internet neutral and to keep libraries open to all regardless of “origin, age, background, or views,” as stated by ALA in the Library Bill of Rights. Jessamyn West is another person in the library field that I pay more attention to these days. Although I had heard her name before, when she was a keynote speaker at the California Library Association conference in 2015, I’ll admit that really intrigued me. Jessamyn was the first person I heard of who speculated about the qualities needed in a Librarian of Congress; at the 2015 conference, during an Ignite: Hater’s Ball session, Jessamyn also spoke about how pornography leads to technology developments. These varied topics, and everything in between, are often discussed by Jessamyn in a frank and engaging manner. While working for the City of Roseville from 2006 - 2016, I had the pleasure of coordinating library programs and events that overlapped with what the parks and recreation department was working on. From day camps to special events, I formed partnerships and friendships with many people in the recreation industry; this lead to an increased knowledge and understanding of the science behind play, and improved the library programs that I oversaw. It was then that I was introduced to the California Parks and Recreation Society (CPRS). This professional organization is so different, yet so similar, to California Library Association that I’m quite interested in their work. I’ve attended CPRS workshops on programming, which has many overlaps with library programming, and look forward to attending their annual conference in the next few years. I believe that the partnerships and working relationship I found while in Roseville are repeatable in other communities, and that the statewide professional groups can also learn and share with each other. Another group that I’ve been following for about 10 years is California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO). This group focuses on dealing with the public and media in a fair and appropriate manner; their tagline of “because good government requires good communicators,” resonates with me. Most libraries in

    California are affiliated with a local government, whether public (city, county, or special district), law (county), or school (county/office of education). Most library staff interact with the public, but many dont have official training on working with media. As more emphasis is placed on telling our collective story, working with potential donors and sponsors, and keeping the library relevant to our communities - working with and learning from an organization like CAPIO becomes more vital than ever.

  8. Who are the regional and statewide stakeholders libraries need to be in communication with?
    There are many stakeholders that libraries should be in communication with, depending on the library type. For instance a public library, whether city, county, or special district, should be in regular communication with their respective boards, local media, Friends and Foundation groups, elected officials both local, regional, and statewide, all other regional libraries, and of course their local communities. A school library could copy many of these same stakeholders, but also include parent organizations, local public libraries, clubs and enrichment programs, teachers, etc. while a law library might add courtroom staff, judges, lawyers, other libraries, etc. A group like the California Library Association can help facilitate large regional and statewide conversations with elected officials and advocate for library funding, but I believe that advocacy efforts can also have deep impacts at a grassroots, local level. While CLA has many tools available and has done a great job working at the capitol, empowering all library staff across the state (regardless of library type) talk to their local, regional, and statewide stakeholders has the power to enact positive change. Developing a toolkit for working local media, talking to our stakeholders, and telling our libraries stories is needed now more than ever.

  9. What do you feel are the most critical challenges and opportunities facing California libraries right now?
    So many! The largest challenges I see facing California libraries are shrinking budgets with rising costs and demands, and getting our collective library stories out to the public and media. While these are huge challenges, they are also excellent opportunities. Libraries across California are finding ways to creatively use their funding, whether it’s working with their sponsors and support groups (i.e. Friends, Foundations, Boards), seeking and applying for grants, or tweaking existing programs and services to save money in one area while they try something new in another area. This is also true of getting our collective library story out to the public. While it can be challenging to get ourselves into traditional media markets, libraries across the state have launched successful campaigns, used social media, created yard signs, and found other ways to connect with our communities. I’m interested in what CLA can do to further support these grassroots campaigns, and create opportunities within the challenges that California libraries are facing.

    Board Member At-Large

  10. Describe your experience serving on Association committees and/or interest groups.
    Much of my experience with CLA begins with the Membership Committee. I joined this committee in 2014, and have been the chair for the last two years. When I joined this committee I volunteered to help with conference planning, particularly coordinating volunteers, staffing the booth, and helping to find new engagement tools (notably temporary tattoos and stickers, conference Bingo, CLA swag like pens/stylus’ and post-its, and official CLA account social media posts.) Outside of conference, I live tweeted all “Conversations with Robert Karatsu” in 2014, and helped continue this under Helen McAlary as a way to further engage CLA Members. As chair of this committee I’ve continued helping with conference planning, explored other membership perks and engagement tools, and have brought in new committee members of different backgrounds and interests. Most recently, our committee has been working on non-conference perks (in-person meetups around the state), creating promotional videos (still in progress but coming soon!), working with Interest Groups to increase their visibility. We’re getting started on coordinating booth activities and staffing for 2017’s conference in Riverside, and are excited to provide even more to CLA members.

    As I mentioned, Ive also taken an active role in conference planning for 2016 and 2017s conferences. In 2016.  I worked with Mary Abler of the Management Interest Group to coordinate the Career Centers volunteers, attendees, mock interview questions and processes. For 2017 Ill be helping to coordinate this again, as it ties in directly with membership perks. Additionally in 2016 and 2017 Ive been a program proposal evaluator, helping to rank program proposals, and have worked with Andrew Carlos (chair of conference programming) on the quality of programs offered at the conference. Ive also worked with Vanessa Christman, Jennifer Baker, and most recently Shawn Thrasher to continue one of the most popular sessions at the annual conference titled Haters Ball, which are Ignite-style micro-presentations during the Night Track.

    Another opportunity that I helped develop are Ignite sessions. Ignite sessions are quick, 5-minute presentations packed with information. These grew out of a need to give new conference presenters an opportunity to receive coaching, help with slide preparation and review, and a structured format to follow with the goal of making a first-time presenter feel more confident in their presentation. Now entering its third year, the Ignite sessions continue to be popular with audience members who want a variety of presentations and information, and with presenters who enjoy a challenging format and receiving coaching.

    Ive also been an active member of the PR Excellence Awards committee in 2017. I helped review and judge all entries submitted to the committee, and am looking forward to attending the Awards Gala to celebrate the winners. I am also on a few Interest Groups with CLA, including marketing and public relations and technical services. Ive provided some coaching to the newest chair of the marketing and public relations IG, Diane Cowen, including giving her the background of this group and some tips on getting others involved. I believe so much in the work that CLA does, and look forward to taking on even more projects and tasks as Board Member At-Large.

  11. Describe your network of connections with library professionals and library stakeholders in California.
    My networking of other library professionals and stakeholders originates with my job, first at the Roseville Public Library and now at the San Rafael Public Library. It’s through these careers that I’ve met such leaders as Rivkah Sass (Sacramento), Sarah Houghton and Henry Bankhead (San Rafael), and Vanessa Christman (we worked together in Roseville many years ago).

    In 2009 I had the pleasure of being one of the second group of Eureka! Fellows, and first expanded my connections to that years mentors including then-state librarian Stacey Aldrich, Kathy Gould, Jan Sanders, and Derek Wolfgram among others. I also formed connections with other Fellows like Amanda Jacobs Foust, Brian Geunther, Lyda Truick, Susan Baier, Jennifer Lawson, and Carey Gross Hall (now Jones) among so many other people. I didnt realize at the time that the Eureka! Institute would grow and develop as it did in future years; for me, it was one of the first professional development learning opportunities that Id had up to that point, and Im grateful to have been one of the first groups to have that experience. While the Eureka! experience was unique to many people, it helped me form connections with other library staff I may not have otherwise made.

    Through my work on behalf of the California Library Association, and by attending many annual conferences, Ive made connections with many other library professionals. Some of these professionals are in management roles like Erin Christmas, Morgan Pershing, Mary Abler (now in Louisiana), Robert Karatsu, and Nina Lindsey, and much of the current CLA Board like Jennifer Baker, Helen McAlary, Andrew Carlos, Genesis Hansen, and Kimberlee Wheeler.

    In addition to these library professionals, I also have connections with other related industries or that may be useful to CLA. These include: Mark Murphy, director of the Maidu Museum and Historic Site and a Sacramento area museum affiliate; Lon Peterson, communications director for Marin Municipal Water District; and Daniel Weitzman, recently elected as controller for the California Democratic Party.