Lina Bertinelli, Madeline Jarvis, Kathy Kosinski, and Tess Wilson | Movers & Shakers 2020–Community Builders

Millennials like public libraries. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, 53 percent of them visited a public library in the previous year—higher than Gen Xers (45 percent) or Boomers (43 percent). But that doesn’t mean they’re participating in library governance at a comparable rate. To find out, Lina Bertinelli, Madeline Jarvis, Kathy Kosinski, and Tess Wilson, selected as Emerging Leaders by the American Library Association (ALA), conducted a national survey about identifying barriers to serving on a library board under the mentorship of United for Libraries board members David Paige and Veronda Pitchford (a 2005 Mover & Shaker).

 
Janet Hollingsworth
LINA BERTINELLI

CURRENT POSITION

Workforce Librarian, Enoch Pratt Free Library & Maryland State Library Resource Center, Baltimore

DEGREE

MLIS, University of Iowa, 2015  

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@yourfriendlina

Adam Watts
MADELINE JARVIS

CURRENT POSITION

Adult and Information Services Manager, Marion Public Library, IA

DEGREE

MLIS, University of Iowa, 2015  

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@jadeline_marvis

Zack Weaver

KATHY KOSINSKI

CURRENT POSITION

Member Services and Outreach Manager, Califa, San Francisco

DEGREE

MSI, University of Michigan School of Information, 2016 

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@kkosinsk

Zack Weaver

TESS WILSON

CURRENT POSITION

Community Engagement Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region, Pittsburgh

DEGREE

MLIS, University of Pittsburgh, 2017 

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@tesskwg;
tesskwilson.wixsite.com/portfolio

ALL

All Ages Welcome: Recruiting and Retaining Younger Generations for Library Boards, Friends Groups, and Foundations (ALA Editions, summer 2020)

Photos by Bob Schatz

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The Power Of Four

Millennials like public libraries. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, 53 percent of them visited a public library in the previous year—higher than Gen Xers (45 percent) or Boomers (43 percent). But that doesn’t mean they’re participating in library governance at a comparable rate. To find out, Lina Bertinelli, Madeline Jarvis, Kathy Kosinski, and Tess Wilson, selected as Emerging Leaders by the American Library Association (ALA), conducted a national survey about identifying barriers to serving on a library board under the mentorship of United for Libraries board members David Paige and Veronda Pitchford (a 2005 Mover & Shaker).

The 866 responses revealed some intriguing findings.

The number one barrier to millennials serving on library boards? They simply weren’t asked. Those who do participate are often the only millennials involved in their local organizations—and they feel like token youth representatives whose perspective is ignored.

"Many of the challenges we’ve identified are unique to this stage of life, not the generation’s characteristics," notes Jarvis.

Unlike most Emerging Leaders’ groups, the quartet continued to work together after they shared their findings at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference. "We were able to continue…because we developed such a strong working relationship, but also because of the endless support and meaningful opportunities [from] the United for Libraries team," says Bertinelli.

They began giving presentations at library conferences around the country that included "actionable, compelling, and dynamic tips and advice," says nominator Pitchford, assistant director at Califa, a consortium of 230 California libraries.

They created toolkits and trainings for recruiting and retaining millennial board members. "’People leave with not only a sense of why generational diversity matters, but how to deliberately work toward it," says Wilson. And they turned that material into a book.

"Every time we present…we have someone tell us that we described exactly the same problem they’re having," says Bertinelli.

Now they’re expanding their scope to increasing ethnic diversity among trustees, Friends, and foundations, says Kosinski. "It is especially apt…as each younger generation is becoming more and more ethnically diverse." 

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