Professional Associations

This week, I’m supposed to do some research into professional associations for librarians and pick a couple that interest me. The number of available associations was longer than I was expecting, but I hope to stay in Michigan and work with children, so I was able to narrow the list down substantially. Below are two of the most interesting associations for me, ones that I will likely join as soon as I stop being a poor college student and actually start making some money.

The Michigan Library Association

http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/

MLA has a very simple mission: “Helping libraries and library professionals succeed.”

According to the MLA website, it is the “oldest and largest library association” in the state. It was founded in 1890 and has over 1500 members today, representing all types of libraries. Members are required to pay dues, ranging from $50 annually for students to $170 annually for unaffiliated individuals, and higher rates for organizations based on the size of their budget.

Members benefit from advocacy services provided by MLA, conferences and other opportunities for continued education and professional advancement, and a collection of job postings and job hunting resources. The Association also presents several awards each year including “Librarian of the Year” and the “Michigan Author Award.”

MLA is active on Facebook and Twitter, posting information about upcoming events, award winners, and general library-related information.

MLA publishes a quarterly newsletter and various books. It used to publish a peer-reviewed journal, but production was “suspended indefinitely” in 2009. This journal featured a mix of articles, editorials, and book reviews.

I hope to be able to stay in Michigan (dependent, of course, on finding a job here), which is why this association is of interest to me. At this point I can’t really afford even the discounted student rate, as I’m just starting to pay back my student loans from undergrad. However, if I am able to get a library job in Michigan post-graduation, I will probably join this association.

Association for Library Service to Children

http://www.ala.org/alsc/

This association is a division of the American Library Association, and has changed names twice since it was founded in 1941.  Previous names were “The Division for Children and Young People” and “Children’s Services Division of the ALA.” It’s purpose is “creating a better future for children through libraries.” According to the ALSC website, ALSC is “the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children” with over 4000 members including children’s librarians, publishers, children’s literature experts, teachers, and others. ALSC is in charge of awards such as the Caldecott and Newberry awards for quality children’s literature.

Becoming a member requires ALA membership and annual dues in addition to the ALA dues, ranging from $20 for students to $55 for organizations. The total dues for a student add up to $54 per year.

Membership brings benefits such as access to resources in the form of collections of links to pertinent information, subscriptions, discounts, and grant money, professional development classes, and networking opportunities, and resources for grass roots advocacy.

ALSC publications are mostly books with information about award-winning books, the decision process for awards like the Newberry, and child literacy resources. ALSC also publishes a quarterly newsletter only accessible by members.

ALSC has an active Facebook page with posts about award deadlines, training sessions, and applicable articles and links. It doesn’t have a Twitter feed posted on its homepage like MLA does and I don’t have a Twitter account, so I can’t be sure what they do there.

This association is of interest to me because I hope to become a children’s and youth librarian in a public library. If I don’t end up joining this association, I will join a similar one, such as the Young Adult Library Services Association.

References

Welcome to the Michigan Library Association. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://www.mla.lib.mi.us/

ALSC Association for Library Service to Children. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2013 from http://www.ala.org/alsc/

Goals

For the average person, myself included, education is a bit too pricey to do without having a strong purpose. So what am I trying to accomplish by spending 2 or 3 more years and thousands of dollars to continue my education? I’m a down to earth, practical thinker, much more comfortable with daily details than a grand, long-term vision or dream, but the following is my view of the future. I’m sure my perspective will gradually expand as I move forward and learn more about what I didn’t even know that I didn’t know about library science.

My primary goal, not surprisingly, is to gain the skills, knowledge, and credentials necessary for me to get me started on a satisfying career. My dream job is to be a child and youth librarian in a public library. I have many fond memories of trips to the library and of participating in library programming as a child, particularly the summer reading program, and I would love to be able help give other kids a similar experience. I love kids and did some unofficial tutoring in high school, but absolutely do not want to be a teacher. I have a tendency to let homework crowd out the other aspects of my life, so I need a job that I can generally leave at the workplace when I go home for the day. Working with kids in the library, teaching them about how to use the library and helping them with research for class assignments, seems like a perfect way to use my skills and passions in a way that will be sustainable for me. I am excited to share my love for the library with kids, and studying LIS is part of the path to get there. I am still deciding whether to pursue the certificate in public library services to children and young adults in addition to my degree, or to simply use my electives for classes in that area. I can gain the knowledge and skills either way, since the classes I would take in either case would be very similar. This will come down to weighing the additional semester and money it would take to complete the certificate vs. the benefit of being able to list a certificate on my resume.

Learning what I need to know to do my job well and earning the official credentials that will enable me to get that job in the first place are broad goals that basically cover what I’m trying to achieve at Wayne State. I am looking forward to expanding my vision for the future as I continue my studies.