After a great conference I often reflect on why I think professional conferences and association memberships are so important. I had a whirlwind of fall events (ALSC Institute; MN and WI Library Associations; WI Reach Out and Read conference) and I had some thoughts on their importance!
1) LEARN A TON
Not just from interesting sessions but also from hallway conversations with new and old friends in libraries and areas of library work we all share.
2) UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
We get to meet book creators and publishers and look through forthcoming titles that make us more knowledgeable.
3) OPEN OUR MINDS
They have major speakers who help us and inspire us about our libraries and our work. While we can read award winning youth book award speeches, to be in the audience to hear their passionate and heartfelt remarks is inspirational!
4) DISCOVER AND RE-DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL CITIES
Every conference allows us a chance to get to know a city a little better.
5) FEELING THE LOVE
Publishers, book creators and speakers share their appreciation of the daily work we do. My spirit is always refreshed and my well of energy replenished so I go back ready to dive back in and work hard for my communities.
AS A MEMBER OF AN ASSOCIATION
1) OUR VOICES MATTER
No matter what size library we come from, we can make our voices heard on important library issues WE care about.
2) TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER
Our professional membership means that we support legislative efforts, webinars, classes, booklists, book awards, and efforts to promote libraries of all types and sizes in America. That collective power moves mountains.
3) WE INVEST IN LIBRARIES
Our dues mean we are investors in keeping libraries healthy, supported and strong in ALL our communities in the state and nation.
4) WE INVEST IN OURSELVES
We can benefit from what we receive from our associations. But even more importantly, we can volunteer to move library work forward, represent libraries of OUR size, and develop into powerful advocates and leaders thanks to being more involved in association work. This amounts to a strong investment in ourselves and strengthening ourselves as librarians.
I hope you consider becoming an association member or attending local or national conferences. You truly reap far more than the dues you pay. I can honestly say, I would not be the librarian I am today without the support, opportunities, networking and learning that occurred and occurs through my membership and activity in state and national associations.
Wait, dues and costs too expensive? I hear you. Here's something that worked for me to help me afford them when my library couldn't support my attendance financially:
Do you ever get tired of receiving heart-felt but sometimes useless things from the people you love during holiday or gift-giving? Why don't you see if family members would give you a gift of membership to a professional association you love but pinch pennies - or can't afford- to join! My mom and my partner used to do that for me and I loved them for it (along with the zillion other ways I loved them!)! And no more bread-making machines, knitted mittens in day-go colors or card tables. Win-win!