Thursday, September 23, 2010

ALA is Not Your Mom

Okay, I was pointed to this post - Seven Things I Hate About Librarianship - by Jen of Stacked and maybe I'm just in a crotchety mood, but I felt the need to respond to #2:

Two: The main professional organization, ALA. Then again, it is called "American Library Association," which may make some wonder who's interests they are really watching. But name aside, it just seems more like an expensive subscription to some journals. At my level, I don't think it does a whole lot.
This blogger goes on to say that he/she dropped his/her ALA membership and has "not looked back".

Now, I'm not here to get up on my soapbox and shout to the world that ALA rules.  I'm also not here to say that ALA is terrible and a waste of money.  I'm here today to say that ALA is an organization made up of US.  It's not some magical entity floating around to solve all librarians' problems.  ALA is what we make of it.

Therefore, if you're not getting what you want out of ALA (what is it that you want out of ALA, anyway?), the only way to change that is to get involved.

ALA is not your mom.  ALA is not there to do your laundry and pick up your socks, metaphorically speaking.  ALA exists to create a professional network for the sharing of ideas, the bettering of our profession, and the education of library staff.  (Read the actual mission statement here.)

You know what is absolutely NOT helpful?  People complaining about something and not doing anything to change it.  ALA is what you make of it.  If you don't like it, get involved and change it.

(Full disclosure: Yes, I'm an ALA member.  Yes, I wish it was cheaper because I find the reported average salary of beginning librarians to be actually laughable [Who the heck did they survey?  Either that's way off or everyone I know is grossly underpaid].  No, someone from ALA did not ask me to write this blog post.)

ETA (9:23am):  I'm hearing in comments that lots of you would prefer to be members of divisions only (like YALSA, ALSC, etc.) if you could do so without being a member of "Big ALA".  If the divisions were not part of Big ALA, I wonder if the price for membership would go up?  And if the price for joining just the divisions was the same as joining the divisions + Big ALA, would you still want to join just the divisions?  I'm curious here.  I'm assuming that the divisions are somehow subsidized by Big ALA, but I don't know that for a fact.