The Castle

Friday afternoon is not a great time for major career revelations.

I was talking with a coworker this afternoon about ALA. She was talking about why she’s a member, and I was talking about why I’m not. For her, ALA is a source of professional development and community. As I’ve said before, I feel I get enough professional development and community from blogs, wikis, email lists, podcasts, and talking with other library professionals (in person and via phone, email, and IM). ALA just seems irrelevant to me.

And then a thought came upon me like a dramatic prairie dog: what if there are other library professionals who don’t get their development and community solely from the internet? What if there are librarians who look to ALA for development, community, and support? What if they’re not getting everything they could from ALA? Aren’t they my community, too? What if it’s not just about me?

Oh, hell. I suddenly felt that it was my responsibility to rejoin ALA and do my best to work from within and make it the better. If not for me, then for my fellow librarians and future librarians. Which sounds really arrogant and grandiose, now that I type it out. But still, there it is.

I’m still not completely sure this is something I want to do. I know that as long as I’m not an ALA member, I’m not going to gripe about it, because unless I’m willing to join and work on it, I’ve got no right to kvetch and moan. Of course, if I do actually rejoin ALA and really get involved, I hear there’s a good chance I’ll get a pony with a monocle.

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10 thoughts on “The Castle

  1. Really enjoy your blog; and the style/format.

    Currently I am debating the decision: do I join or do I not?

    I’m going to blog about it soon. I’m sure that is as exciting as it sounds -not really. But I do hope to build off your thoughts since I’m mulling over the same mental fodder.

  2. Thank you very much, Lee! I’ll be interested to read what you have to say.

  3. I say join and change things. It’s not easy, not everything you want to change will EVER be changed… it’s a huge organization and truth told, a lot of people like it Just The Way It Is.

    But it is YOUR association, and the association we leave to our descendants.

  4. The Kansas Library Association could use your enthusiasm if you get fed up with ALA. You can be one of tens of thousands of members, or one of a few who really work to bring good things to the Kansas Library Community.

    Not only is this my opinion, but my opinions are usually the ones I agree with the most.

    Whoever gets ya, will be lucky to have you.

  5. Well, gee, thanks, Royce! Not only have you given me a compliment, you’ve given me more to think about.

  6. Josh-

    I like reading about your torn feelings regarding the ALA. My membership ran out after I graduated and never bothered to renew. I’m in the SAA and that’s enough for me (both money and time wise, that is). Keep the faith, wherever it takes you!

  7. Thanks, Ray! I joined ALA as a student (at it’s low low student membership fee) and then let it lapse, too. And while I’m complained about ALA’s fees before, looking over what it would cost me to renew my membership, it’s not really that bad. Of course, I’ll have to wait until at least August before we have enough in our bank account for me to renew, but I can do it.

  8. Josh, I second Royce’s comment about KLA. I am a believer in “local investment,” and we are fortunate to have serving us, as Kansas librarians, a solid state library association, KLA, as well as an outstanding regional library association, Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA). The Missouri Library Association is excellent, too, and living as we do on the state line, it makes sense to stay involved with them for a modest annual individual membership fee.

    I’ve chosen to put my eggs in the MPLA basket for the next few years, though I retain membership in ALA out of a sense of obligation.

    There are many ways to pay it back and pay it forward. Just be sure to pay!

  9. Hey–I found your blog from the Internet Librarian wiki. I am not an ALA member mainly because I feel like they act less like a professional org and more like a political org/tenure justification. I don’t necessarily disagree with their political positions, but I just would prefer I had a professional org that mainly helped me get jobs and do my actual job better.

  10. Hi, Jenny! I probably agree with most of the political positions ALA takes, and I don’t think you can separate politics from professional life. And yet, I do think it should spend at least as much time and effort on professional development as it does on political activity. When I was an ALA member, I didn’t feel like I got that professional support (although I will admit that maybe I didn’t make enough effort to seek the support out).

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