The Joy of Active Participation

by Elinor Crosby, Head Editor, INALJ Nova Scotia

The Joy of Active Participation

elinorcrosby01How do you participate in your community? Are you a member of your local, state/provincial, or national library and information professional organization? Do you attend meet and greets, fundraisers, or conferences? Do you keep in touch with your fellow alumni?

During my MLIS I gleefully joined a multitude of professional organizations, including the Canadian Library Association, the Special Libraries Association, ARLIS, the Halifax Library Association (they throw the best parties!), and the Nova Scotia Library Association. The membership fees were very reasonable for students, and what I got from them was tremendous. The publications were amazing, the list-servs were lively, and the local student chapters helped me feel connected to the greater world of libraries and IM.

Because of my memberships I was able to attend a CLA conference, as well as an ARLIS conference, and they were both amazing experiences that I will never forget. There were amazing opportunities to meet mentors, vendors, and make new friends. I attended a fantastic zine workshop at the ARLIS conference, hung out with a retired cataloguer who used to work at the Frick, got to have a tour of the GLBT Archives in Toronto, and so much more. While I’m not currently on the path to be an art librarian, it gave me a lot to think about in terms of metadata, using RDA in art libraries, zines, and artist’s books.

Once you’re out of school those memberships become hard to afford, especially if you’re still searching for a full-time library job. However, they are an invaluable networking and support resource to the new librarian, and even the more seasoned job-seeker. When my student memberships ran out last year, I had to cherry pick a few organizations to keep up with; I chose my local ones as I was intending to stay within my province if possible. Once I’m a bit more settled financially, I will most likely get a CLA membership again. I’m also involved with my alumni association as the chair this year, which should be an interesting challenge.

I love my community, and I love participating in it. How about you?