Professional organizations

Fitting in

The NEAISL15 conference is over, and it seemed like everyone had a good time and got a lot out of it (whew!).  Several members were heading to Tampa for AISL15, a conference I haven’t attended since 2001’s Library Space Odyssey (don’t ask).  In two months, I’ll be in San Francisco for ALA Annual, but in between I could to ACRL NEC.  Looking ahead, there are AASL, YALSA and other conferences, symposia and workshops I could be considering… but beyond having limited professional development funds and not wanting to be away from “home” all the time, what conferences (and what organizations) are really going to give me and my school the most bang for the buck?

When I first started my library life, it was clear that joining AASL was necessary.  After all, working in a school library = joining the national school librarian’s association, right? Imagine my surprise when many of my colleagues didn’t belong!  They were members of other ALA divisions, or only joined the state organization, or only the local one.  Did.Not.Compute.  But as time has passed, I, too, have dropped or changed memberships based on what I need and what the organization is giving me.

This is one of those “where do I fit in” moments for me: who will give me the greatest learning opportunities?  where can I make a difference?  That’s not to say that there needs to be a clear path to leadership on a committee or overall, but can I contribute in some way?  Even more important is the learning.  I stopped going to one conference because it was too much money for too little learning.  As a newbie, it was great but in the middle phase of my professional life, too much was geared to those newbies, or to people who weren’t reading blogs and professional magazines and keeping up with trends and tools.  One conference session touted iPhones as the Next Great Thing (remember when Palm Pilots were?), but two years after they’d been introduced. Granted, conference proposals are due so far in advance that sometimes things are outdated, but maybe then the presenters should have upped the game, shown new things and not given a basic intro?  All too frequently, the sessions are geared for the newbies, the beginners, and there are few that are for “advanced” people.

Which leads me to continue to ask, “where do I fit in?”  AASL doesn’t speak to me any longer, YALSA is – after a few years of seeming like a home – really more interested in public librarians than schools, ALSC is for a population younger than I serve.  Reaching up to ACRL makes sense, as does continuing with AISL because of our shared independent status, and then there’s RUSA for reference and RA.  And maybe, after years of joining and joining, that’s enough…

How many of you are feeling the same?  What are you doing about it?

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