Professional organizations

Do you know who I am?

When I attend events within the YALSA, AASL, HVLA and ISS realm, people know me. Sometimes I feel as though I don’t need a name tag… or as though I’m Norm. As Wendy said, I’m with my people.

It’s a good feeling.

But then I sit in my ALA Nominating Committee meetings and, well, I feel like I did when I first joined ALA/AASL. Big Huge Name from ACRL or PLA or LLAMA or LITA is mentioned. Heads around the table nod knowingly: this is a wonderful candidate for ALA President or ALA Council. They can rattle off Big Name’s accomplishments and how they’d contribute to the organization.

Me? Not so much. There’s almost a ghettoization in ALA, and if you’re in the Youth Services ghetto, you don’t really know the other divisions. It’s not just about not knowing the Big Names, but it’s also about not really knowing the divisions issues, concerns, current trends and focus. That strikes me as a little sad, and perhaps explains why when school libraries are being cut (and fail to be mandated by our state and federal government), the rest of ALA doesn’t quite know how to react. Similarly, when something they care about happens, we don’t know how to react – or help.

American Libraries
runs a small column that tries to introduce each division to the rest of us. I think it needs to be larger, more personal, and more frequent. I want to know who the movers and shakers in each division are, what the division is being challenged by at this moment, and how (if?) the work I do can help them in some way.

I’d love to join other divisions (ACRL, LLAMA, RUSA and LITA spring to mind), but that’s another $120/year and I can’t afford that right now. I also can’t afford the incredible overload of information that would come from those memberships. There should be an associate membership, not full, wherein you can get your toes wet in a division and know that these conference sessions are a better way to spend your time (because you now know the speakers and the issues), or that this webinar/miniconference is worth your time and effort.

It’s not just about walking into a room full of my people, because if you don’t know who I am, that’s ok. It’s just that I want to know who you are.

2 thoughts on “Do you know who I am?”

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