4/9/12 Stephanie Gross is the tireless organizer of the active NY Librarians MeetUp Group, among other things!
Q: Where did you get your MLS?
A: Pratt Institute.
Q: How long have you been the organizer of the NY Librarians MeetUp Group?
A: Since October 2008; it was founded on May 17, 2006.
Q: How did you get involved with the group?
A: Through its founder, Ellyssa Kroski. She started it, and another woman ran it for about a year after she left, and then I took over. There was a call for someone to take over, or the group was going to dissolve. So I volunteered and decided what I wanted to do with it. I have been organizing programming since my early 20s and active with clubs and groups even before that. So I knew about joining groups and organizing events and meetings.
Q: How many members are in the group currently?
A: There are about 545 right now; not all are active. Maybe 40% are somewhat active. Many of the members are students, recent grads, or information professionals in transition.
Q: What is the purpose of the group?
A: Our mission is social networking for New York librarians and library students from all backgrounds. We discuss developments in the field, share information, explore professional opportunities, examine emerging technologies, and engage in good old-fashioned librarianship. Our goal is to mix business with pleasure, and anyone from any library setting is welcome. The group also helps library students select fields of study and librarians in transition re-tool for the current job market.
Q: How do people join the group?
A: Just go to www.meetup.com/nylibrarians.
Q: What are some recent and upcoming group events?
A: Some recent events include visit to The Foundation Center, the Frick Museum, and Museum of Jewish Heritage. Our upcoming events include a lecture at Columbia University on book printing and a book group. We’re hoping to host TRAK, a recruiting firm as well do some resume swaps at networking events. Our members generally propose venues based on where they’ve done internships or held employment.
Q: In what other professional organizations are you active?
A: I’m active in myMETRO, ARCL-NY, SLA-NY, AJL.
Q: What are some things you have learned from organizing the group, and what do you want people to know about the group?
A: I’ve learned to avoid the word “networking” for meetings because some people are intimidated by that. We have great diversity within the group – age, when members got their degrees, experience. I spend a lot of time one-on-one with members, probably more than I have to, but I consider this a public service; I feel it is necessary.
I was very specific about what I wanted done re: the look of the site and security, whether to have sponsors or not, etc. We have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites where people can meet and connect and participate. The site has become a resource for members because people can see info about the other members.
The way the group works is leadership from the middle rather than the top. Members come up with ideas for meetings and events and sometimes for offers for freebies or discounts. I often see members at other events – this is another way for people to build professional relationships. We do need more volunteers to help out with the planning and the site. We also have volunteers write re-caps of meetings, workshops, events and site visits.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working in NYC?
A: There is such a wide variety of activities to do and people to meet. I love the international scene.
Q: What advice do you have for current library school students, re: service in professional organizations?
A: Get involved immediately and stay involved! Mix business with pleasure. Make sure to make the most of your connections by cross-pollinating, that is, sharing with others, not simply receiving. It’s very important to acknowledge that there’s too much information for one person to digest. Participation in professional organizations should help one establish oneself in that community as well as build the necessary leadership skills and confidence required for working in today’s competitive market.
Stephanie is employed as an academic librarian at Yeshiva University, in Electronic Reserves. She holds a BA from Ben-Gurion University, and Master’s degrees in TESOL and LIS. In addition to being the organizer for the NY Librarians MeetUp, she is VP of the New York Library Club, Inc. and Chair of the AJL Mentoring Committee.