by Cassidy Charles, Senior Assistant, INALJ NYC
Associating with State and Regional Associations
Last Spring, Mary-Michelle Moore wrote a series about Professional Organizations. She highlighted the different division in ALA, diverse professional LIS associations, and additional professional LIS associations. When looking down the long list of professional organizations to connect with you may want to consider reaching out to a state chapter of ALA.
Each state in the United States of America is represented with a chapter and in turn each state is represented in the Council of the American Library Association. Each chapter is itself an independent organization and thus seeks to serve its own population of librarians and information professionals with different activities, sections, and divisions.
In the USA there are also regional associations to consider involvement with that have similar benefits to state associations, including networking, professional learning, and community- building opportunities.
Beyond the USA there are regional professional organizations and networks available, like the regional networks affiliated with the Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in the United Kingdom or the local branches of the Australian Library and Information Network (ALIA).
What your state association can do for you
State and regional associations are an integral part of the conversation between the national organization and its membership. Geographic-based LIS organizations are interesting as they bring together LIS professionals from the different corners o f the field but have the commonality of being based in the same locations. With that in common, professionals can find colleagues with common professional interests who might not share exactly the same job.
Chapters facilitate this engagement in the form of holding annual conferences, continuing education workshops, advocacy days, and other activities throughout the year.
Continuing Education and Networking
Continuing Education is an integral part of career development for the LIS professional. Learning is constant. As a job seeker any relevant continuing education and learning opportunities to your career pursuits add more to your portfolio and provide you with knowledge or skills.
Continuing education can come in forms beyond conferences and workshops, like webinars, blogs, and virtual meetings. The Colorado Library Association regularly updates their blog with association news and resources of interest to LIS professionals that they can then turn around to their users.
Like ALA’s annual conference and midwinter meeting, chapters will often hold their own annual conference or business meeting for its membership at some point during the year, but with a local and specific content and less travel time. These events will often be a wealth of continuing education and learning opportunities, in addition to time for networking with local professionals.
Often state associations will offer a job posting board online. Using a RSS feed reader, like Feedly or Digg, to follow some of these association job boards will provide immediate access to the most recent postings. They may also provide information about professional credentialing for in their state or salary guidelines. The Southeastern Library Association even offers a mentoring program for new LIS professionals.
Associations are organizations made up of people who have a common interest. Together professionals continue to develop and support their field. A sense of community grows from this and takes shape in events. Some chapters also provide members with opportunities to take part in fun and recreational activities. The Member Services Committee of the New Jersey Library Association is both the recruiting and social arm of the chapter. Through the year they host activities for their members like apple picking, after-work happy hours, and field trips to enhance and promote association membership.
It takes people to run chapters and networks, as well as the committees, subcommittees, and divisions of them, and volunteering to be one of those people has it benefits. Volunteering indicates engagement with the professional community and puts your name out into your local LIS community.