Sunday, February 19, 2006


I've gotten two membership renewal reminders from ALA, one in an email and another on a postcard. The email notice was much more told me which divisions etc I'm currently a member of, and it included instructions on how to renew online. I think the postcard was trying to be persuasive:
Your membership in the American Library Association is set to expire on March 31, 2006. Don't miss out on your chance to continue as a part of the association that works for libraries and for you. We value you as a member and hope that you will continue to use all the professional resources available only to members...

(boring stuff about what phone number to call to renew)

...It's more important than ever to work together to support libraries, library funding, and library workers.

Renew Today!

You tell me. Do you feel persuaded? Personally, I could do with a few more specifics. Kindly remind me, what are those professional resources available only to members, exactly? I've gotten a few email newsletters with links to the ALA website, but every time I've clicked through and been asked to login for members-only content, I've decided it's too much bother and moved along to something else. Maybe for the next postcard ALA could list three accomplishments they're really proud of and demonstrate how my membership (or at least my dues) contributed.

Trouble is, by the time you get the postcard, you've probably already made up your mind about whether to renew or not. Either you feel you've gotten value for your membership throughout the year or you don't. And that doesn't happen with a postcard. It doesn't even necessarily happen when you get one really great experience out of your membership. It happens when you get one really great experience out of your membership, then you turn to ALA and ask, "What's next?" and ALA says, "Here, try this."

Here are the boxes I checked last time around:
  • Basic Dues

  • Library Administration and Management Association (and all the sub-sections, 'cause they're free after you buy into LAMA)

  • Public Library Association

  • Young Adult Library Services Association (I joined about six months into my membership year)

  • New Member's Round Table

  • Social Responsibilities Round Table ('cause it's free for very socially responsible)

I signed up for a bunch of stuff because I thought I'd give it a try at the cheap student rate. When I renew, I think I'll go for NMRT and YALSA again, but that's it for now. I like the Public Libraries journal, and I love the PLAblog, but I can enjoy both of these without being a PLA member. I might sign up for ACRL at some point just to see what it's like. I'm sticking with NMRT and YALSA because I've gotten involved in committees. I'm sure there were opportunities to be more involved in LAMA, I just didn't find them. The difference with NMRT and YALSA is that the opportunities found me.

If you're curious about a section and want to give it a try, I'd suggest joining halfway through the year. The online form calculates membership cost based on how much time is left on your annual membership...if you've only got six months left, you'll get in at half price.

I've been stalling on my renewal because I thought I'd wait and see if wherever I'm going to move to has a deal for reciprocal ALA membership when you join the state association. But last night it occurred to me that I should just pick a state that offers joint membership and join. Kind of a neat way to hear about what somebody else is doing.


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