ALA or SLA? That is the question for the career college librarian
Have you seen the new standards published by ACRL? I haven’t had a chance to read the whole report, though I did go to a webinar about it yesterday (shout out if you were there). It looks interesting though and this plus talk of the Librarianship in For-Profit Educational Institutions discussion group possibly turning into an interest group in ACRL has given me pause when considering my current professional memberships.
I have been a current member of ALA since I was a student at North Carolina Central College finishing my MLS. I think as a student ALA sort of becomes your beginning and end. You aren’t aware that there are other options out there. Once getting into my current role I was frustrated with the lack of support I found at ALA for my particular kind of library. So, I did what any self-respecting librarian would do, I researched. Aside from the great groups I found on LinkedIn, I also became aware of the SLA. At first I was drawn to the resources they had available for solo librarians, which is what I was. Having taken on some more administrative roles in my current institution however, I began to find value in some of the leadership resources and some of the corporate library information was also very helpful. I found their website to be easier to navigate and the feel of the organization was just more comfortable. Armed with that I was setting myself up to let my ALA membership run out and instead take up membership with SLA. Here I am at the precipice when a decision must be made and I find myself hesitating. Where should I go?? I can’t afford both so I must choose, where will I get the most value?
For public libraries, ALA is where it is at. Their role in advocacy and privacy and legislation is front and center, but sometimes, sometimes, I feel like ALA is missing the where our future is headed. Don’t misunderstand me, librarians are doing what they need to do to be relevent in their current situations, I’m just not sure if the ALA is portraying the profession the way I think it needs to be portrayed. And that isn’t at all to say that I don’t believe in the ALA’s mission, I read through their new 2015 strategic plan, I think there are great things in there and I was really glad to hear in the ACRL webinar yesterday that the presenter felt academic libraries needed to start working with accrediting bodies. She’s right, college administrators don’t particularly care what ACRL has to say, they care what their regional accrediting body says. That’s great, maybe change is coming! And speaking strictly from a career advancement position the ALA is better known in academic circles.
SLA though has a foothold in technology that I don’t think the ALA has really figured out yet. I’ve been much happier with the SLA’s workshops on technology. The ALA is always doing basics steps and we should really be beyond that by now, don’t you think? Besides I just like the feel of SLA, they give me the warm fuzzies and that counts for a lot. So, I don’t know what to do. ALA or SLA?? Ultimately I will make a decision that I feel the best with and know if I don’t like it that I can always change my mind next year.
What about you though? Were are your memberships at and why? Have you found great resources from other organizations? Please share them. I would love your thoughts and insights.