Walt Walker Named Director-at-large for ALA Roundtable

Walt WalkerWalt Walker, Head Cataloging Librarian at the William H. Hannon Library, was recently appointed as Director-at-Large for the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Like many academic librarians, Walt’s dedication to the field of library studies extends well beyond his work at Loyola Marymount University. Walt has been an active member of the American Library Association (ALA) since 1990 and continues to support the profession through service and scholarship. His recent appointment is the latest in a long list of services to librarianship at the national level.

Walt began working for Loyola Marymount University in 1996 in the Charles Von Der Ahe Library. Right away, he was encouraged by the library’s director to become more involved in the profession. “I saw it as an opportunity to benefit my career in the long-term. Moreover, it was a way to contribute to the profession beyond LMU.” Walt’s service to the profession has primarily focused on two areas: cataloging committees and the work of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT). “Being involved in GLBTRT has always been important to me from the beginning, because I’ve also been involved in other gay activist groups, even before I became a librarian,” says Walker. “When I did become a librarian and saw there was a professional group within ALA that was dedicated to helping LGBT librarians and library users, I thought, ‘Oh, I should be involved in that, too.'” (You can read about some of Walt’s earlier activism in The life and death of ACT UP/LA : anti-AIDS activism in Los Angeles from the 1980s to the 2000s by Benita Roth).

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table is a group that is “committed to serving the information needs of the GLBT professional library community, and the GLBT information and access needs of individuals at large.” It was first established in 1970 and has grown to over 1,200 members. Walt’s recent work with GLBTRT has been as a member of the Stonewall Book Awards Committee, which recognizes books “of exceptional merit” from the past year that specifically relate to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience. Before this, he worked extensively on developing a series of annotated bibliographies while he was chair of the GLBTRT Resources Committee, including:

These bibliographies bring together a wide range of books, DVDs, and Internet resources related to their respective topics and can help librarians to select LGBT-focused materials for their library collections. “My work in GLBTRT helps other librarians to identify the best GLBT books for developing their library collections to better serve their patrons, many of whom are part of an underserved minority.”

Much of Walt’s professional work outside LMU has also focused on developing standards for cataloging media (DVDs, Blu-rays, and other visual materials). In fact, he was initially hired in 1996 to help catalog (at the time) LMU’s quickly growing VHS collection. Film cataloging is a complex process, perhaps more so than book cataloging, and it is constantly needing to be updated to accommodate new formats, features, etc. Walt’s work with Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC) and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging has helped to establish standards and guidelines that are used by librarians around the world. As Walt notes: “My recent work chairing the Cataloging Policy Committee and co-writing the Guide to Cataloging DVD and Blu-ray Discs Using RDA and MARC 21 helps to mentor other catalogers so that they can better accomplish their work and serve the users of their libraries.”

The ability to attend conferences, to be inspired by what he learns there and who he meets, drives much of Walt’s professional pursuits and he acknowledges the privilege librarians have at LMU to continually expand their professional influence. “It’s a way of extending our reach. We don’t just contribute to library work here. We do it outside here as well.”

As director-at-large, Walt will serve on GLBTRT’s executive committee, the group charged with providing oversight and long-term planning for the group, including directing programs, projects, activities, and publications. He will attend the in-person meeting of the executive committee in Denver in February 2018 and again in New Orleans in June 2018. When asked about the extent of his service within the profession and how it led to this role, Walt answered: “Opportunities lead to more opportunities. You show up, you volunteer, you talk to people, and you try to do what needs to be done. People notice that.”