Our May Instructor Spotlight is Jennifer Bielewski. Jenn is teaching My First ALA: Registration Confirmation to ALA Annual on Tuesday, June 6, from 2 - 3 p.m. EST.

Jenn Bielewski is a marketing campaign manager on the Lyrasis Member Communications team. She has held many positions throughout the years at Lyrasis including instructor, open source implementation manager and membership manager. She has coordinated, exhibited at and attended over 150+ library and archives conferences. She holds a MLIS from Florida State University and a Digital Marketing Specialist certification from Digital Marketing Institute.

We recently chatted with Jenn as part of our Instructor Spotlight Series to learn more about ALA and her upcoming class. 

What is your background with the ALA Conference?

JB: I have been going to ALA as an attendee and as an exhibitor for over 15 years. As a librarian, it’s one of the conferences that I feel is a must for the profession at any level—paraprofessional, curious about becoming a librarian, senior staff. If you have the travel funds or if ALA comes to your city,  try to go! As an attendee, it can be very daunting which is why I decided to offer this webinar. There’s so much to do, to see, and there’s always new people to meet.  As an exhibitor, it’s a great way to meet members, potential customers, and make new connections.

What sets ALA apart from other library conferences? Is it simply the size, or are there other factors? 

JB: Size certainly helps but it’s all about the people you will meet. Everyone is so passionate about their library, their role within the library, and about the services we as profession can provide to our communities. ALA feels like one huge family reunion or coming home to meet a partner’s family for the first time. You are nervous and unsure for a moment but as soon as you place the ALA badge on, you are part of the family. At ALA, you meet people at all levels, serving libraries small and large and we all share the same tenacity of service. You meet people who share your interests and like some of us, some of us became a part of the library community because it is a safe place. You can be you, whoever you are, at ALA.

Do you have a memorable ALA moment you would like to share? 

JB: Oh, so many! Probably one of my favorite moments is hearing Michelle Obama at the opening session a few years ago. She is as tall as you think and simply amazing. Meeting Library of Congress Librarian Carla Hayden was definitely a memorable moment. We bonded over Wonder Woman.

For fun, what are you reading, listening to, or watching these days?

JB: Tough question. For reading, I read a lot of non-fiction. I have developed an interest in all things relating to roads trips--probably stemming from the days of the COVID where we all had to be a bit more creative with vacations and our free time. I recently read a fiction oldie but a goodie, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" which is still within the same theme, road tripping. I have been listening to a lot of Tina Turner since her passing and trying to follow The Cure’s North American tour as much as possible whether streaming online, reviewing setlists or seeing them live!