A Question for the Think Tank

At the Young Turks reception in Boston, we initiated a conversation by asking the question of those present:

What would make ALA a better fit for you?

We invited responses on paper, on Twitter using #youngturks, or by email to any of the working group members. We’ll post some of those responses on ALA Connect for all to share.

If you weren’t at the reception, or even if you were and have new ideas, we invite you to comment below, on Twitter, or on Connect and share your constructive ideas for what might make ALA a better place.

PS: This is directed to the Young Librarians Working Group Think Tank, but anyone else is welcome to respond, too.


  1. More for the money for those of us who cannot attend the conferences. American Libraries is the worst of all the library association magazines (based on the year I joined practically everything while I could get student rates). My library would probably still pay for me to be a member, but I couldn’t justify it – not even to join ACRL – I just felt like it was them throwing money out the window (especially since our library recieves American Libraries as well as the ACRL publications – I can read those copies if I wish). (I have recently joined the Academic section of SLA – not only was it cheaper, but “Information Outlook” was always the best of the library association magazines)

  2. ALA is pretty much irrelevant to me because I cannot afford to attend conferences nor expensive pre-conferences. I feel like a 2nd class member because I cannot REALLY participate. For instance, I had the good fortune to have been appointed to a position on a council as an intern, but could not accept because I was told there was no way for me to virtually participate and I could not afford to travel to both Annual and Midwinter.

    My student membership is almost up–and I do not think I will be continuing because it is so expensive and the benefits to me are almost nil. Like I said–I feel like a 2nd class member whose voice won’t get heard, or really taken seriously because I cannot afford to travel to the conferences.

    I think virtual participation is great, but I also think it should not be so expensive. I can’t remember what the price was for the last virtual conference, but it was prohibitively expensive for me.

    I really like connect and think that this is the direction ALA should be heading. I actually think ALA can learn much from Web Junction. Providing an infrastructure for communication was the beginning, now ALA needs to add content, classes, webinars, and more for free (to members). That would be a draw. I see many librarians out there building their careers, but do not see much collaboration on how we can better our profession and make information available for people who need it.

    LITA–I’ve been in LITA for two years now and do not find it worthwhile.

    The SRRT is alright–unless you are RADICAL and criticize Israel–then you are labeled an anti-semite.


    I’m considering putting my efforts in with the Progressive Librarians Guild.

    I do not say these things lightly–I have been trying to get involved with ALA for two years and have had little success because of financial reasons–now tell me how a Librarian Organization prohibit members who cannot afford to travel to REALLY participate.

    So, I think decreasing the cost of membership, decreasing the cost of conference attendance–virtual and in reality, provide FREE classes and certificates of competency in training to members.

    Create a local chapter network that holds mini-conferences, creates videos and will have a speakers bureau. This will help members get more involved and enable them to participate.

    Maybe have a regional ALA meeting during annual and midwinter that teleconferences with the conferences–letting members participate a low cost. You could even have town hall like meetings with regions participating in interviewing presidential candidates, participating in committee, and also just networking. By having the librarians at a mini-conference, the teleconference could be provided at a lowered cost to all participants–instead of each one paying separately–I bet ALA could swing something like this.

    Ha–we do have regional chapters–I had no idea OLA was our chapter! ALA needs to do a better job conveying structure to members.

    Oregon Library Association

    I think I could just join OLA–why should I join ALA too?

    So, I find it interesting that I am a member of both OLA and ALA and had no idea that OLA was the local chapter. I thought it was independent. I should have investigated that further. I will pursue this avenue.

    Anyway, I wanted to convey my frustration at the economic barrier of participation in ALA and, in my point of view detrimental effect of this on the diversity of voices who are heard and who can FULLY participate. I appreciate your work, the work of ALA and most of all the people involved in this great organization. I just feel that it should really give some serious thought to the costs of participation. I mean–is ALA shooting itself in the foot by not bringing in more voices in times when innovation is so sought after? I think so. I know I could have contributed much more if I had more money.

    Thank you for your work and efforts my friends!

    Max Macias

  3. I’ve just started becoming involved with ALA and it’s challenging in a lot of ways. I am fortunate in that I do get conference funding, so I can attend Midwinter and Annual, but that means that I don’t get to attend other conferences that are more focused and obviously useful (for me, that would be Charleston, ACRL, LOEX, and discipline-specific conferences). I do have to pay for ALA membership out of my own pocket and that is hard, since I’m a new professional, live in a high cost-of-living area, and have student loan payments to make every month.

    I’m still not quite sure how to become more involved with ALA and I’m actually on a couple of committees. I totally missed the deadline for volunteering last year and I try to keep track of that….I don’t think ALA communication is clear much of the time and there are *way* too many channels for it. I’ve mostly tried to get involved because I want to learn more about the profession and so on, but it often seems like not a lot happens as a result of being involved. I don’t know if that’s clear – it seems like a lot of the work that goes on within ALA has little impact on anything. That may just be my perception, though, since I am still fairly new to the profession and organization. Overall, it feels like it’s hard to have a voice, even though I am able to participate in some of the conferences….I don’t know what I could or should be doing at them.

    As for regional activities, my local chapter is not terribly active and we don’t have a local conference.

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