Malinda on the People of AALL
Malinda Muller is Director, Patron Services at LA Law Library in Los Angeles, California.
Why did you join AALL?
Yikes! That was in 1995! Back then, it was a simple matter of professional accountability and wanting to join in. Today, if I were to answer that question as a newcomer all over again, I’d say, in hindsight, my reason would be the comfort and bonding that comes from the simple assurance that whomever I engage with in AALL I am not going to need to justify my existence to that colleague! If I could get a penny for every time someone in the mainstream asked me to confirm that everything we need is on the Internet, right……? Too, I’ve never regretted joining AALL because, more often than not, I’m going to learn something interesting or insightful from someone connected to the association or one of its local chapters.
Why do you stay a member?
The people in AALL. I love being a librarian and have always worked in libraries (except for a one year of temporary insanity.) Librarianship was a career choice that started with my first job in 1975. How often do you meet another librarian, let alone a special librarian? Hardly ever. AALL has provided a common ground where I am willing to bet I’ll find someone, no, lots of “someones” who are curious, smart, accountable, approachable, helpful and just plain nice to connect with. In my case, however, it took a long time to get more involved in AALL. Over the last few years, however, I’ve moved from spectator and more towards participant by speaking at a couple of annual conference programs then proposing and coordinating a program for the upcoming AALL conference. Now, chairing a committee for my SIS, I’ve found, overall, each endeavor has resulted in some terrific project work with a network of great people.
What one membership benefit is most valuable to you?
The GLL SIS (and the SIS construction, for that matter) or a local chapter are both great ways that I maintain more equanimity in what can otherwise be an overwhelming experience navigating such a large organization. Participating in an SIS has provided a natural opportunity to come together with colleagues who have similar issues, mandates and audiences, coalescing relationships and shoring up support and mentorship when I’ve need it. Actually, sometimes those relationships expanded outside of the strictly professional. For example, I have been shown around Portland by a colleague when I traveled to Oregon for a kayaking trip. Closer to home, I walk monthly with a colleague whom I’d previously met at a local chapter dinner. I think the opportunity to connect is extraordinary and worth embracing.
What is your favorite memory associated with AALL?
A representative memory is as recent as last year’s AALL conference, in Chicago, over by the all SIS display section. I’d volunteered for an information shift for my SIS, the Government Law Libraries, and during the hour several co-SIS members showed up. The group grew, people hung around talking shop, and, before we knew it, we had dreamed up some projects and shared stories about the state of our communities and our libraries. It was so enriching and also fortuitous. During the impromptu talk session, I met a newer GLL member who ultimately agreed to work together as a new member of my GLL committee. Her fresh perspective has been great to have.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Sadly, I can’t say I have any particular passion like so many other accomplished and creative types. I presume that’s why I tend to be all over the map with my interests. Last year, for example, I walked the Great LA Walk, a fourteen mile trek from downtown LA to the sea. This past fall I took a woodworking class and made a maple/walnut/mahogany bowl. I am crazy for backyard birds and am constantly fueling five hummingbird feeders, two finch feeders and three wild bird feeders. I participated in a marathon and then two century cycle rides to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I volunteer, annually, for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, favor any museum that has narrated / guided tours and like to see a good movie at 10:30 in the morning so I still have the whole day ahead to be productive. This past year I converted the front yard to a drought tolerant garden and now have subsequently spent twice as much time as before ‘tending’ it. Don’t let anyone tell you going ‘native’ is a piece of cake!
What book(s) are you currently reading?
A lot. I’m in three book discussion groups and, in addition the group’s book selections, I always have something personal that I’m reading. For the Sunday philosophy study group: Altruism by Matthiew Ricard. The remaining two book groups tend to select popular titles. The recent selections include: Imagine Me Gone (Adam Haslett), Marriage of Opposites, Gentleman from Moscow (Amor Towles), Lincoln in the Bardo (George Sanders), and Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance). Continuing to develop a mindfulness practice means there’s always a personal read on the topic close by. Two good ones are Fully Present (Diane Winston) and Mindfulness in Plain English (Bharte Gunaratana.) Driving to work with Audible as my friend is the only good thing about traffic in LA.
What’s your favorite travel/vacation destination?
I’d not done much traveling before my son went off to college. Believe it or not, however, I love local hiking because there are some great opportunities above Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains. I have, however, sworn to get over the state line and see more of America. Next fall I’m taking a one week cycling trip through Door County, Wisconsin. This will be my third Road Scholar trip. Road Scholar rebranded from Elder Hostel a few years ago and still focuses on providing educational and informative tours for all levels of travelers, more or less active, to literally hundreds of destinations. My first Road Scholar trip was a hiking trip through the Chiricahua National Monument in eastern Arizona. Absolutely beautiful and off the beaten path. The second, and also amazing RS trip, involved kayaking a portion of the Lewis & Clark route down the lower Columbia River along the Oregon/Washington border.