President’s Report


Gerald Natal, Interim President and Vice President/President Elect

This fall has been a fickle season, one minute spring-like weather, the next falling snow. It is the traditional season for formally giving thanks, and I feel I have a lot for which to be thankful. I am thankful for the many blessings in my personal life. I am grateful for my career as a librarian, for the opportunity to have a positive impact on students, staff, and faculty, and for my library colleagues. I am appreciative of members of this year’s conference planning committee, my fellow ALAO Board members, and the many opportunities and experiences afforded to me as a member of ALAO. I wish everyone peace in the coming holiday and into the new year.

On to business…

ALAO Executive Board Meeting Report 10-21-22:

Minor changes were made to the Bylaws and Procedures Manual concerning the Continuing Education Grant and an update given on the mentoring and distinguished service awards selection in progress. Previously the revived Communications Committee met to review the charge and purpose of the committee and prepare a communications workflow for the ALAO Board; members of the committee presented to the board for comment a detailed document that addresses modes of communication, responsibilities for maintaining them, and a timeline for updates. The board was also informed about the revived process for updating the State Library of Ohio statewide calendar with ALAO events and received an update on the conference planning committee. The ALAO treasurer reported that an overall discontentment with the PayPal payment system has prompted a search for a more user-friendly system for ALAO events.

48th Annual Conference Update

This year’s conference “Tipping Point: Initiating Change in Academic Libraries” took place during two gorgeous days on November 3rd and 4th at Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in Lewis Center, north of Columbus. Attendance for the first in-person conference since 2019 was very respectable, with 27 pre-conference registrants and 217 registered for the day of the conference from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Attendees were offered 26 concurrent sessions, 5 lightening sessions, and 9 posters (abstracts and links to many of the presentations can be found here). There was opportunity to see old friends, network, interact with our wonderful group of exhibitors and sponsors, swap items at the Sustainability Interest Group’s swag swap table, and mingle at Thursday night’s low-key social event. Conference feedback was generally favorable, and many were pleased to be attending the conference in person.

The pre-conference workshop Beyond Being “Good Colleagues:” Implementing and Sustaining Active Allyship Practices Within Academic Libraries was conducted by Alexia Hudson-Ward, Associate Director of Research and Learning of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries and inaugural Editor-in-Chief of Towards Inclusive Leadership (TIE), a popular multimedia blog dedicated to diversity-centered research and discourse. Ms. Hudson-Ward also delivered an inspirational keynote for the conference, Active Allyship in Action. Both the workshop and keynote presentation addressed advanced active allyship practices, misconceptions surrounding allyship, and the systemic nature of bias and privilege, with a focus on data-driven and sustainable people-centered approaches. These themes are in keeping with ALAO’s strategic area Focus 1: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

As is the custom, each year the conference planning committee selects a cause to support. To help combat the current attacks on school curricula and the singling out of books for censorship, ALAO donated to The National Coalition Against Censorship. The coalition is made up of a diverse group of fifty-nine national not-for-profit organizations, representing the artistic, educational, religious, and labor communities, joined together in the interest of protecting First Amendment rights.

This year’s People’s Choice Poster Award was a tie, with the prize money going to three individuals. Hal Howard from Miami University received a $100.00 prize for the poster “Student Perspective on Strategic Project Engagement in the OhioLINK Luminaries Program.” Beth Anderson and Heather Back from Wright State University each received $50.00 for their poster “Remember: Building Displays to Promote a Prominent Collection in the Community.” Congratulations to you three!

While I am on the subject of awards, several of our library colleagues were recognized for having received ALAO grants and scholarships. Congratulations to the following individuals!

  • Cara Calabrese, Miami University – Research & Publications Committee Research Grant
  • Catherine Saavedra Pic, Columbus State Community College – Diversity Scholarship
  • Mike Monaco, The University of Akron – TEDdy Award (previous winners Ken Irwin and Derek Zoladz also received their TEDdy bears and certificates, having been denied receiving their awards in person due to the pandemic)
  • Madeline Gaiser, University of Cincinnati and Taryn Mirabello, Portsmouth Public Library – Professional Development Grant

I encourage everyone to visit ALAO’s web page to find out more about these opportunities, as well as the Support Staff Conference Grant and Student Presenter Grant.

The Kathryn Venditti Mentoring Award

A highlight of the annual conference is the announcement of The Kathryn Venditti Mentoring Award recipient. The award was established in 2016 to honor individuals who demonstrate excellence as a mentor. The award is named in memory of its first recipient, Kathryn Venditti, an exemplary librarian, and long-time ALAO member. This year’s award went to Paul Fehrmann, Emeritus Professor at Kent State University. Paul was described as having “Spent over 25 years welcoming and mentoring new librarians,” as “kind and supportive,” and as a “Strong advocate and ally of BIPOC librarians, demonstrating inclusive practices and behavior.” One nominator stated that Paul’s “support made a difference in my career and most importantly, in my life.” ALAO congratulates Paul on receiving this special honor.

The Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award

Another award that spotlights praiseworthy achievement at the conference is The Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award, named in honor of a former Ohio State University librarian who played a large part in the formation of ALAO. Recipients of this award must have broadly promoted academic libraries and librarianship and have a strong record of leadership. This year the award was presented to Krista McDonald, Director of the Rentschler Library at Miami University–Hamilton. Krista has a sustained record of service and was described as an “active and vocal member” of ALAO’s Diversity Committee, including her work on ALAO’s Diversity toolkit and Diversity Action Task Force. She is a former ALAO President and Board member and is active in OhioLINK. Krista’s nominator notes that while her work merits recognition, Krista is known for her “passion, creativity, good humor, and commitment to justice.” [I was urged to make mention of Krista’s passion for camels (the animal), an in-joke among her colleagues.] As a further distinction, Krista is only the second person besides Kathryn Venditti to receive both the mentoring award and the distinguished service award.

Congratulations to this year’s award recipients and to the other worthy nominees!

Before I sign off, it is a perfect time to publicly thank everyone who had a hand in making this year’s conference a success. Without support from the conference center, sponsors, exhibitors, and the many who attended, we don’t have an event. My thanks go out to the members of the board who assisted with presenter introductions, and especially to the planning committee who gave of their precious time and energy (and who put up with my many, many emails)—you all rocked it!

If you didn’t have a chance to fill out our post-event survey or have additional feedback about the conference, please feel free to reach out to the Conference Planning Committee at


Dear ALAO Colleagues,

Are you looking for a leadership opportunity? Would you like to get involved in professional service for an ACRL chapter?  If so, please consider nominating yourself for the ALAO Board — or encourage a colleague to consider nomination! Elections will take place in spring 2023, and successful candidates will take office at the ALAO Board Retreat this summer.  Come join a fantastic group of Ohio library workers!

*A diverse board membership benefits the organization—all are encouraged to apply*

 In-person attendees of the 2022-2023 ALAO Executive Board Retreat

What does the ALAO Board do?

As the Ohio chapter of ACRL, we have a mission of advancing academic library services in our state and providing opportunities for education and growth for library personnel at all levels and at every career stage. We sponsor an annual conference and spring workshops that focus on innovative topics and showcase Ohio academic librarians; we provide scholarships and awards; and we maintain several active, diverse interest groups and committees. In addition, we have a mentoring program that pairs up Ohio academic librarians for peer-to-peer, inter-generational, leadership, or student mentoring relationships.

What is my role as a Board member?

  • Perform the duties described for your elected position – see the Procedures Manual for the specific duties and responsibilities of each position
  • Attend the annual retreat in July of each year
  • Attend scheduled Board meetings (announced at Board Retreat–these have been virtual through Zoom)

This year, we will be electing the following officers:

  • Vice President/President Elect
  • Public Relations Coordinator
  • Board Member-at-Large (3 positions)

Remember that you must be an ALAO member to run for office, so this is a perfect time to join or renew.

Submit the online nomination form by Monday, February 17, 2023, to be considered as a candidate!

If you have questions, please contact

Thank you from the Nomination Committee!

Gerald Natal, ALAO President/Acting Past President and Nominating Committee Co-Chair

Laura Birkenhauer, Miami University, Nominating Committee Co-Chair

Gwen Short, Ohio State University

Clayton Hayes, Kenyon College

Alison Ricker, Oberlin College & Conservatory

Lynn Warner, University of Cincinnati

This entry was posted in Vol. 40 no. 4 (Dec. 2022) and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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