Professional Organizations

While I’m still learning about many of the professional organizations available for librarians to join, there are a few that I’m eyeing for membership – that is, outside of the American Library Association.

Association of College & Research Libraries

Mission: The largest division of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is “dedicated to enhancing the ability of academic library and informational professionals to serve the information needs of the higher education community and to improve learning, teaching, and research” (About ACRL).

What they do:

  • Provide academic and research librarians with various tools and “toolkits” they need to best do their jobs.
  • Helps librarians connect with one another and discover new job opportunities.
  • Advocate for various issues regarding higher education policies, the rights of academic libraries and information access.
  • Create and host various resources on information literacy as part of the ACRL Information Literacy Coordinating Committee.
  • Recognize outstanding academic librarians with a variety of awards, including awards for achievement and distinguished service, research grants and publications.
  • Host various conferences and educational programs throughout the year in order to promote continuing education and professional networking, including the upcoming ACRL 2013 Annual Conference this June 27-July 2 in Chicago.
  • Provides consulting services to assist librarians in strategic thinking, planning, managing change, accreditation and more.

Membership benefits: The ACRL boasts an impressive membership base, with a network of more than 12,000 members – accounting for almost 20 percent of all ALA members.

In addition, an ACRL membership dues includes two free Communities of Practice memberships, as well as a variety of interest groups. These groups include African American Studies Librarians, University Libraries, Women and Gender Studies, Health Sciences and Digital Curation.

Requirements: The ACRL has several levels of membership, including memberships for first-time members, renewing members, international members and memberships for retired librarians, students and library support staff. There is also an associate membership for those employed in the library and information science profession. Students must be at least enrolled half-time a library science program. Membership dues range from $60 to almost $200 a year.

Publications:

  • College & Research Libraries News
  • College & Research Libraries
  • CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
  • RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage

Why the ACRL?

I picked the ACRL because I am looking forward to a career at a university or small college library, where I can work with digital curation and database creation. The academic library world is a large one, and membership with the ACRL will help guide me to the resources I need regarding finding a job, meeting other professional librarians with similar goals and learning about the field.

Progressive librarians guild

Mission: 

Founded in 1990, the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) is comprised of librarians “concerned with our profession’s rapid drift into dubious alliances with business and information industry, and into complacent acceptance of service to an unquestioned political, economic and cultural status quo” (Statement of Purpose).

“A progressive librarianship demands the recognition of the idea that libraries for the people has been one of the principal anchors of an extended free public sphere which makes an independent democratic civil society possible, something which must be defended and extended. This is partisanship, not neutrality” (Statement of Purpose).

What they do:

  • Provide an open forum for “radical views on library issues”.
  • Advocate for progressive and democratic library activities locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Support activist librarians throughout the country.
  • Bridge the gaps between school, public, academic and special libraries.
  • Monitor the professional ethics of librarianship.
  • Award the annual Miriam Braverman Memorial Prize, which awards papers on the social responsibilities of librarians, libraries or librarianship.

Membership requirements:

PLG members need to be affiliated with either a library or academic institution. Memberships are $20 a year, $10 for those with low income. Members can also offer up their expertise in their respective area of interest.

Publications: 

  • Progressive Librarian
  • PLG Bulletin

Why the PLG?

At this moment, I’m still on the fence but strongly leaning toward joining the Progressive Librarians Guild. While generally shy of overtly political groups, or groups that make politics their primary focus, I respect the PLG’s mission to promote social responsibility in the librarian and information science profession. These ideals are one of the biggest reasons I’m joining the profession, and I want to be connected with those that also believe that librarians – and libraries – are good for society and democracy. In particular, I am passionate about the fight against censorship and literacy efforts, and I think the connections I would make through the PLG would lead me to projects in those arenas.

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