The question is simple: Should I continue my ALA membership when I graduate? I finish school about 20 days before my “valid through” date expires on my ALA Member ID Card. That means that I will have to pay $65 instead of $30 for a membership (plus $$ for whatever “extras” (divisions, round tables, etc.) I choose).
To be completely honest, I do not have $65 laying around and while my birthday actually falls between my pending graduation and ALA expiration, I don’t really want to ask/suggest a membership renewal to people who would purchase me something. I would rather ask for them to use their money on gas to come visit me…
So here’s a restatement of the question: Why should I continue my ALA membership when I graduate? Or why shouldn’t I?
Here’s how I use ALA right now:
- For the weekly AL Direct email. Can I get that without being an ALA member?
- For my resume. Some people would say it shows I’m dedicated to professional development. Personally, I think my attention and participation in conversation via blogs and articles illustrates this more.
- For the student chapter of ALA at the University of Washington. I use the resources, news and contact information. I could do this without a membership, but I feel like since I’m an officer of the organization, I should be a member of ALA.
- Maybe there are other ways I use it, but I can’t think of any right now.
I think if I were to stay a member of ALA when I graduate (and hopefully have a job), I would need to become a little more involved. However, I’m hesitant (maybe that’s not the right word) to become more involved for the following reasons:
- Being involved usually means you have to go to the ALA conferences (midwinter and annual) for meetings and discussions and that costs more money… (which I don’t have) – sorry I keep using that crutch, but it is true!
- ALA still seems reactive instead of proactive to issues (especially emerging technologies and user services) that are important to me. I think I would be frustrated with the (slow, maybe?) process of discussion. I guess I don’t really have a right to say it because I don’t know, but I think there’s too much discussion and not enough (or quick enough) action to stay current. And I guess that’s the real reason why I should get my butt in gear and change things…
- But then again, is there another way I (we) could start changing things outside of ALA? Would it be a faster, more efficient, yet worthwhile process? I think Hack Library School has the potential to be a fantastic example of this sort of resource for current and future LIS students. I’m excited to be a part of how it grows and where it goes, but I don’t know how I’ll feel when I’m an (employed) graduate.
As I was writing this, Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe posted something so closely related to my questions that I have to connect them. I don’t think I answer his questions about young librarians and “ALA Reformation,” but I do think this is all something to consider. Then I was also invited to the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook. (Search it) And I’d like to hear your thoughts.