Meet the ASCLA Board of Directors: Sara Laughlin, President

Throughout the coming weeks on this blogspace, we’ll be profiling members of the ASCLA Board of Directors, and it’s the perfect opportunity to learn a bit more about these amazing leaders! Does something in their replies pique your interest? Reach out to them via their contact info at the end of the post. A little networking goes a long way towards improving your personal and professional life.

Sara Laughlin
Sara Laughlin

Sara Laughlin

Director, Monroe County Public Library

ASCLA President

I joined ASCLA shortly after I became coordinator of a multitype consortium in 1980, because I discovered that all the consortia directors from around the country were there.  I wanted to meet them, share ideas, and keep up with what was going on. For the next 17 years, I really enjoyed participating in lots of different ways, edited a couple of consortia publications, and eventually served at chair of the multitype consortium section (can’t remember its exact name now).

And then I became a consultant and got involved with the consultant’s section (now interest group). Over the next 10 years, many of my clients came through my friendships and ASCLA connections with state library and consortia leaders and consultants from around the country. For eight years, I served as editor of Interface, a job that introduced me to the dedicated librarians who work with people with disabilities and kept me in touch with the best practices of state libraries and consortia.

In 2007, I was asked to become interim director of my own Monroe County Public Library, a really great institution that I’d long admired. After eight months, the Board made me director. I’m now managing a budget of $10 million, 160 employees, two large facilities, and outreach, adult literacy, and community access television services. Although it’s not a picnic every day, when I look back over six years, I can see that we’ve come a long way. Every day, I use the leadership, problem-solving, communications, and process improvement skills that I learned in earlier positions, consulting and in ASCLA.

As vice president last year and president this year, it’s been a great pleasure to witness the creativity and passion of ASCLA members and given me a chance to meet more members.

On the personal side, I love to canoe, hike, knit, sew, and read.  I get more opportunities now to share discussions about reading and recently joined a book group for the first time.  This week, my husband and I moved from our home of 25 years to another a few miles away.  Our plan is to build a house next door to the next one, in the beautiful, five-acre, wooded ridge overlooking a lush ravine.  That ought to keep us busy for the next year or so.

My heroes: Betty Martin (retired director of the Vigo County (Ind.) Public Library); Marcia Capuano (retired assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Lawrence Township (Ind.) Schools); Dorothy Crenshaw (retired chief information officer at Indianapolis Public Schools); and Sharman Smith (retired state librarian of Mississippi and Iowa before that).

Contact Sara at laughlin -at- mcpl (dot) info or 812-34-3056.

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