Blogger ALSC Membership Committee

What ALSC Membership Means to Me

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My journey with ALA and ALSC membership came much later than it probably should have. I’ve been working in libraries since 2005 and saw all the postings in our breakroom about joining ALA and thought, “Well, maybe one day. I’m just a paraprofessional, who knows if I’ll stick around. . .” Year after year, I thought about joining. Then, one day in 2021, I saw an email from our staff training coordinator that talked about an opportunity for BIPOC individuals to join ALSC. I talked with my supervisor at the time and she encouraged me to apply. I submitted an application for this opportunity and was completely shocked when my acceptance letter came.

Joining the BIPOC New Members group was exactly what I needed to reignite the fire I had for children’s library services that I had when I started all those years earlier. I was given a new community of people to bounce ideas off of and to learn from. This membership gave me connections with people all over the country. I got to meet a sweet mentee, who was extremely patient with me as I learned how to be a mentor. I still think I learned more from her than she learned from me, but isn’t that how life works sometimes? 

Joining ALSC created amazing opportunities and connections I never imagined I would have found. Choosing to be an active member and volunteer for committee work led me to the School-Age Programs and Services Committee (SAPS) and writing blog posts about programming. Not only was I able to share about programs I’ve done, I got to have a fun conversation about Dungeons and Dragons. I had no way of knowing when I wrote the post about D&D for 8-11 year olds that I would be contacted by someone working on their Doctoral project and invited to be on a podcast about Dungeons and Dragons and how it sneakily teaches skills to children. 

An ALSC membership offers so many opportunities for us to learn and grow in our careers – scholarships, grants, professional development, and ways for us to get to meet each other at conferences and the national institute. But an ALSC membership also presents opportunities to serve through committee work. Did you know there are at least 41 committees you can volunteer to be a part of? That’s so many places where you can lend your voice to discussions and help to find ways to encourage others to do the same. Through committee work you can be a part of creating toolkits to help others who work with children and there are some amazing toolkits that you have access to on the ALSC website from program challenges, intellectual freedom, autism in the library and many, many more. These toolkits are amazing and wonderful resources. I know the autism toolkit has been especially helpful to me, not just when working in the library, but with my daughter. 

I have only been a member of ALA and ALSC for 3 years, and I wish I had made the decision to join back in 2005. The things I have learned and participated in these past 3 years have taught me so many things and given me opportunities I could never have imagined. My membership is honestly some of the best money I spend all year.

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Amberdenise Puckett is a Children and Teen Specialist with the Palm Beach County Library System. She has celebrated 18 years working with Babies to Teens in her community and cannot wait to meet some of you one day.

This blog post relates to ALSC Core Competencies of: VII. Professionalism and Professional Development

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