Being President of the Library and Information Science Student Association

April 19, 2017

lissapres2017

We chatted with current LISSA President, Christine Abram, who shared the nitty gritty of what the role entails

When were you elected LISSA President?

I was elected at the end of the Spring 2016 semester, however the majority of my work began in the Fall of 2016. Everything that I have accomplished this semester has been a direct result of the work of my LISSA board. Their enthusiasm, trust, and guidance have meant the world to me. 

What has been your proudest accomplishment since you took on this role?

The Fall 2016 semester began with a student leadership election due to low amounts of interest during the previous Spring 2016 election. We have 74 student leadership positions, and 32 positions were not filled. With the help of our student leaders, and a bit of prompting and encouragement, we had great success recruiting. Today, I oversee 70 filled positions, and I will continue to encourage students to become active in our student associations.

Another project was a training and reference manual for newly elected student leaders. Once a student has been elected to a student leadership position, it’s the responsibility of the student association to train the new leaders. However, LISSA realized that a lot of useful information (how to book rooms, order food, request refunds, and etc.) is not general knowledge for students. To assure that accurate information was passed from leader to leader, we decided to create a reference manual. LISSA has had materials in the past, but they were scattered or not up to date. LISSA's creation of the guide ensures the information remains updated, consolidated, and accessible. All new student leaders receive a copy at the beginning of their term, and I hope the guide continues to be distributed and updated by LISSA. There is also a copy available on the LISSA website (slis.simmons.edu/blogs/lissa) under Resources for Student Associations.

Can you share some examples of your general responsibilities?

My most important responsibility is to conduct student leadership elections at SLIS. I research which roles are available, create a nomination form, then create an election form, consult the final results, and then determine who has been elected dependent upon the LISSA election rules. I conclude the elections with notifying the people who were elected, and those who were not. Nominations can be difficult to obtain because these positions take a great deal of time and dedication to occupy. We can post on the listserv, Facebook, and make posters, but they’re easy to ignore. I’ve had the most success from taking time to acknowledge and invite individuals who are active on campus, but may not be involved in a student association. Sometimes a person may just need a bit of encouragement. 

In addition, the LISSA President

  • Assures the student associations have access to emails and listservs
  • Attends Alumni Board Meetings
  • Holds monthly meetings with Assistant Dean Dr. Em Claire Knowles
  • Prepares agendas and plans monthly LISSA meetings, where we discuss any changes on campus, prepare events, and discuss any necessary actions or changes in procedure
  • Creates a list of the weekly SLIS events, and submits the email "This Week at SLIS" 
  • Helps conduct student leadership meetings
  • Listens to student suggestions and concerns
  • Acts as a liaison to ensure that our student leadership is provided the resources they need to continue to be active here at SLIS
  • Before the end of my term this spring I would like to make it procedure for the LISSA president to meet with each student association individually at least once a semester. Because there are 74 leadership positions, it can be difficult to keep tabs on how everyone is doing. I hope LISSA can avoid oversights and facilitate discussion on how we can better serve our SLIS community.

What has this role taught you about leadership?

This position has reinforced my feeling that being a leader is bigger than one individual.  This concept is often overlooked. Leadership is not about superiority or bending arms. Leadership is leading by example. Leadership helps foster a community that is willing to work together and create something larger than themselves, to which everyone can benefit. As I mentioned previously, I owe everything to my LISSA board.

Also, leadership isn't easy for anyone. It takes time, energy, patience, enthusiasm and more. At the end of the day, those qualities are what need to shine through, and that can be difficult when you're trying to work through the chaos that is grad school life. Leadership challenges you to be at your best, and when you take a step back from all you’ve accomplished, you’ll never regret it. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish. 

How has this role shaped your time at SLIS? 

I have interacted and connected with many students, faculty, and LIS professionals who I may never have met otherwise, from whom I have learned a great deal about our field. Participating in student leadership has given me a great support system of peers and advisors. Additionally, I have learned about management, and how to apply management skills with an emphasis on how it will affect a community of users. This role has been invaluable to me.