I work at a rural medium-sized library system in the northwest corner of Washington State, in a library that literally has windows where you look across the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Canada. We are a two and a half hour drive and a ferry trip or toll away from Seattle. Librarianship in the best of circumstances can be isolating, but, working in a relatively remote geographic location puts a different spin on it and it’s easy to develop professional myopia. For me, membership in ALSC has been a lifeline, and helped me stay informed about current trends in librarianship, attend continuing education programs, learn about fresh programming ideas, and to stay interested and involved in the profession.
Two of my favorite professional resources to stay informed about things in the field are the ALSC Blog and the ALSC publication Children & Libraries Journal. Both are great places to get new ideas about programs and trends. Literally last week, I read about a really cool program on the blog with direct application to something we’ve been working on in my system. Similarly, this spring, an article in Children & Libraries gave me ideas for a passive program activity opportunity that I’m considering introducing at my library.
One thing people sometimes forget is that ALSC offers scholarship and grant opportunities for people at different stages in their career and are always looking for people to apply. Personally, when I was just starting out I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to attend the Bill Morris Seminar, focused on book evaluation. The Seminar was a game changer in how I think and talk about books, and helped open the door for other opportunities within ALSC. As a selector at my library system, it gave me a new framework for looking at material. ALSC always has new scholarship and grant opportunities-monitoring ALSC-L, the ALSC website, and ALSC Facebook Page are other good ways to keep informed about opportunities.
The biggest impact ALSC membership has made for me has been the opportunity to volunteer for the organization. Through volunteering on different committees I’ve met some amazing people who have helped me along the way, given me an explosion of ideas, and made me a better librarian. There are lots of ways to be involved-process and award committees, virtual and in-person, task forces and special committees with different types of opportunities. Volunteering is easier than it ever has been with new streamlined forms and processes; if you don’t get appointed immediately to a committee, my advice is to reapply and be patient-sometimes it takes a while to be appointed to a committee. In the meantime, you can get involved with the organization in other ways .
Being a member of ALSC has helped broaden my perspective. Because of my membership, I’ve had the opportunity to meet innovative people from around the country and stay connected to the larger world of librarianship. Consider joining or renewing your membership today!
Jennifer Knight is a Youth Services Librarian at the Port Angeles Main Library and a member of the ALSC Membership Committee.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.
Jennifer you captured my reasons as well. In addition membership and involvement has been the highway for keeping me fresh, mindful of the varieties of libraries and service, provoked my thinking, given me people I could use for expanded thinking who also give me reality checks on those expansions, exposed me to new tools and wonderful books and fantastic leadership opportunities. My library degree is now 50 years old and I still treasure these learning and enrichment opportunities. I have been many roles in libraries and served many ways in ALA and ALSC is always my home.