Saying Yes

In our Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association, the board is currently reaching out to association youth folks to consider running for board positions (vice-president elect and directors).

Some folks contacted say yes; some say no - or indicate they are no longer members.

I want to send out a call for all of us to consider putting in some time and support for our state (and national) library associations both as dues-paying members and as active participants.

I will say here to you what I have said personally to countless colleagues around our state to encourage them to step up and out into association membership and work.

As youth librarians, library associations need our voice.

As youth librarians, they need our leadership.

As youth librarians, they need our advocacy skills.

As youth librarians, they need our innovative ideas and flexibility.

As youth librarians, they need our compassion and our passion.

As youth librarians, they need our skill sets.

And what do we receive in turn from these associations?  Among many positives, I would include the opportunity to:

  • strengthen our leadership skills
  • grow our network of peers from outside the "youth services silo" to include colleague from all library types, ages and persuasions
  • effect change by plunging our hands into the guts of an organization
  • be organized for legislative action to protect library access, IF and our core mission and values
  • find common ground and lifelong collaborative partners and friends
What other more intangible benefits accrue with association membership?

As a hiring manager, those candidates (MLIS or not) who were association members always went to the top of the "resumes-considered" stack. Their membership told me they were open to a larger view of librarianship, valued networks and a willingness to pitch in on behalf of the profession rather than just their own interests.

Plus active association membership (working on committees, boards, conferences) offers a pathway to leadership that makes the leap into management easier. Again hiring managers recognize that the candidate brings more than just experience at their day job to the table.

Association members have a network of peers IRL and in real time to tap and don't just rely on co-workers for all their support. This "long-form" peer mentorship of people is invaluable.

Please, when you get the call, say yes and stand up for your association and great libraries in your state. You will have the support and fun of working with other young, mid-career and veteran leaders and a chance to help support libraries in more than just your community. 

And you will not be alone. Your association peers and mentors will help you every step of the way (and if they don't, YOU will become the peer and mentor to lift those who come behind you up to successful leadership).

1 comment:

  1. Your points apply not only to youth librarians, but to all library professionals! Even as a mostly retired person, I pay my dues and donate to the association when I can. Additional thoughts as a mostly retired person: We need the next generation of library professionals to step up! Not because we are "tired" (although maybe a little of that too), but because they are, or should be, tired of hearing from us. It's their time to lead and shine.