Another year of ALSC membership lies before us. Now is a great time to reflect on our own experiences within the organization. How has our membership within ALSC changed our lives, and how can we leverage our own experiences in talking to our colleagues who might also benefit from ALSC membership? Whether you’re in a leadership position in your library trying to encourage your employees to pursue professional organization membership, or an ALSC-lover who wants to see more of your colleagues learning from the good work ALSC does, or an employee trying to convince your employer to cover your dues payments, here are three ways to share the benefits of ALSC professional membership with those around you.
- ALSC is a Network
Professional organizations exist for many reasons, but one of the reasons people in almost every career field are drawn to them is for the chance to build a network of like-minded individuals. ALSC members come from all over the country, from rural and urban libraries, from school libraries, from library management, and everything in between. By joining ALSC, you immediately have access to that network virtually, but also the opportunity to engage with those members at in-person events like the upcoming ALSC Institute and the recent ALA Annual Conference. Whether you serve on a committee every year or never in your entire ALSC career, you’ll come across a plethora of cool people in ALSC that you’ll just be glad to know! When you’re looking for inspiration, a new job, advice on a program, or a good book to read, these are the people you’ll know to turn to. Membership in ALSC is a gateway to this network. Through ALSC, I’ve met people who inspired me to try new activities within librarianship, to question the practices we’ve grown accustomed to just dealing with, and they’ve inspired me to be an ALSC leader myself. That alone is worth the price of admission.
- ALSC is a Skill-Builder
If you’re interested in committee work – whether awards, process, or both – you’ll find yourself developing and sharpening skills you never knew you had. Work within ALSC – on every level – gives you the opportunities to build your skills, stretch your horizons, and grow not only as a library professional but also as a team member, a leader, and an employee in general! You don’t have to be an accountant to join the budget or finance committees – there is space for exploring new skills, building them, and becoming a leader in a field you never anticipated! Award committee work teaches time management, critical reading skills, and how to work well in team environments. Work on the ALSC membership committee has encouraged my research into various Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) topics and how they impact career work, and now I’m building my skills as a leader of an entirely remote team. You can seek out committee work that fits in your current skill sets, or you can let ALSC augment your work by introducing new and exciting learning opportunities.
- ALSC is What You Make It
The best part of ALSC is that it is what you make it! You can throw your whole body into the pool, or you can dip your toe in. You can take a step back when you need to focus on something else, or you can come to every ALSC event in one year. ALSC is a member-driven organization, and you will never be forced to do something you don’t want to do. ALSC is what you make it, and that’s a blessing for many of us in libraries. Whether you’re looking to try out committee work, to learn more about awards, or to meet other library professionals, ALSC is here for you.
Which of these selling points resonates most with you? What started your ALSC story – was it a networking opportunity, or something else? How are you an ambassador for the organization, and how can the ALSC Membership Committee help you connect potential members with the organization? The ALSC Membership Committee would love to hear your ideas!
Aryssa Damron is a children’s librarian with the District of Columbia Public Library System, and the co-chair of the 2022-2023 ALSC Membership Committee.
This blog post relates to ALSC Core Competencies of: VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.