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CLA Elections 2015 - Vanessa Christman
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Vanessa Christman, County of Los Angeles Public Library

Board of Directors

Candidate Statement

Around three years ago I rejoined the California Library Association after a long-ish hiatus, and the reason I rejoined is uninspiring and simple: because my new employer offered to pay.

During that hiatus I never felt compelled to join CLA on my own. First, it didn’t make financial sense to me as someone working a series of part-time and underpaying jobs. However, I also felt that CLA only represented the interests of the professionals who had the most support and security in their jobs, and it didn’t do enough to help those of us who were struggling to make ends meet and looking for (cheap and accessible) opportunities to advance ourselves and our careers.  

Once I rejoined the organization I was offered the opportunity to “put my money where my mouth is” and do something to bring about change-  so I joined CLA committees in areas that seemed the most in need of help: finance and membership.

As a member of CLA’s Finance Committee during some pretty hairy financial crises over the past two years, I’m satisfied to say that we have achieved a greater measure of financial stability for the organization- but we're not anywhere close to where we need to be in order to fund a successful organization.

I took over as the Chair of CLA’s Membership Committee around two years ago, and instead of continuing with the traditional focus on things like postcard membership drives, we decided to refocus on adding actual member benefits that people will be proud of such as: headshots, Ignite Sessions, and professional networking opportunities.

While I'm proud of my accomplishments with the Finance and Membership Committees, it still seems like small potatoes compared to how much more we should be doing for members and for the California Library community in general.  

If elected to CLA’s Board of Directors, here’s what I will advocate for:

  • Turning fiscal stability into fiscal success by looking for more ways that the organization can generate revenue.
  • Diversifying the types of professionals who are engaged in the organization, including (but not limited to) adding more programs and opportunities for library support staff, library students, academic, law, and special librarians
  • Lobbying for CLA to take on a more active role in providing statewide professional development
  • Reevaluating the dues structure for individual members as well as a reevaluating conference fees- with a focus on removing financial barriers to participation for un- and underemployed library professionals
  • Transparency: Taking advantage of all avenues possible to solicit input and let members know what changes the Board is considering.  
  • A more sustainable and consistent mentoring program.
  • And last but not least: Fun. More informal opportunities to hang out with colleagues outside of the confines of our jobs.

I believe that we can remake the organization in an inclusive and sustainable way that reflects the modern realities of our profession.  Your vote will provide me with a greater ability to bring about positive change in the California Library Association.

Thank You!



Vanessa Christman is an Assistant Library Administrator with the County of Los Angeles Public Library and was formerly the Assistant Director of the San Rafael Public Library system. She got her start in an elementary school library and has worked in a variety of library contexts: from teeny and rural to suburban to incredibly giant.