Archive for the ‘ALA Membership’ Category

MentorConnect on the Launchpad

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Update: MentorConnect is now live – go to your Connect profile and give it a try!

We’re excited to announce that next week, we plan to launch a new service within ALA Connect called MentorConnect. Now that we’ve finished phase one for the site (collaborative work space, profiles with networking, and offering the ability to create communities that live outside of ALA’s hierarchy), we’re focusing on implementing two new services aimed at members who want to get involved professionally, but not necessarily at the committee level.

The first of those projects is MentorConnect (“MC”), a service that allows ALA members to create mentoring profiles that highlight their expertise and experience. After they’ve joined MC, any ALA member can search for a mentor using a variety of criteria (gender, type of library, ethnicity, etc.) and request mentorship. Once created, the mentorship is tracked within MC, with a space for providing and archiving feedback. The system will even prompt you every few months to make sure you’re staying in touch.

ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

Here are some screenshots that show some of the features. This first one is an example of a mentee profile. Mentor profiles look pretty much the same.

a mentee's profile in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

Once you’ve created a profile, you can then search for a mentor.

find a mentor in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

MC keeps a record of all of your mentors and mentees, including past ones.

my mentors view in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

At any time, you can view the feedback for a particular mentorship. When you add new feedback, the other person will get an email notice, and she can log in and reply.

a mentorship in ALA Connect's MentorConnect service

The MentorConnect tab will appear on your profile next week, along with a link to it in the left-hand sidebar. If you don’t like something about MC or if you encounter a problem using it, please let us know. If you do like it, let former ALA President Jim Rettig know, because he funded this initiative during his term. Thanks, Jim!  🙂

New Member Benefit Discount from Books-A-Million

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Good news: we’re unveiling a new Member Benefit discount with Books A Million on purchases in-store and online this week.

As a preview, members can simply use your member ID number to get 10% off at or 20% off at over 220 store locations around the US. Other details for Organizational members will follow soon. And keep your eye on the mail for a special discount card from Books-A-Million, exclusively for ALA members.

We hope that this new benefit program will help you stretch your personal and library budgets. Contact John Chrastka, Director for Membership Development, for more information at

Increasing Usage of ALA Connect

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Last month, I highlighted some early statistics about ALA Connect, and while I would hardly call the middle of May “late,” I thought I’d post an update on those numbers. We won’t keep loading up your stream with Connect statistics, although we do hope to see usage increase leading up to, and after, ALA Annual Conference in July. Until then, here are some aggregate figures for the site’s first five weeks.

  • Total # of logins: 2,220 (1,950 ALA members + 270 non-members)
  • Total # of posts: 243
  • Total # of online documents: 210
  • Total # of calendar events: 181
  • Total # of polls/votes: 22
  • Total # of discussions (in forums): 66
  • Total # of images: 29
  • Total # of comments: 479
  • Total # of member-generated communities: 40

There’s also been a lively discussion about Connect on the ALA Council mailing list for the last few days. If you’re interested in reading some councilors thoughts on using (or not using) Connect, go to the May 2009 archive and start with May 8 (09/05/08 in the list).

Some other views of Connect: ALA Connect: The Mother Ship Evolves from School Library Journal and Why We Should Adopt ALAConnect: A brief review and rumination on ALA’s new online community from In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

The ItLwtLP site also has an interesting post from October 15, 2008, titled On the ALA Membership Pyramid. It has 43 comments on it, which contain some truly interesting ideas for ALA. If you’re one of the 2,000+ people who has logged in to Connect, I’m curious to know if you think it can fulfill some of the points made in the comments? It can’t solve all of them, but how can we take the advice from both ItLwtLP posts to make Connect work for those “level 1” members who aren’t part of committees and who aren’t able to/don’t want to come to conferences?

Welcome, ALA Connect and Greater Privacy Options

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I’m late announcing it here, but the official pronouncements are popping up everywhere else – ALA Connect is finally live! I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein – it’s aliiiiiive – but so far the patient is doing quite well. Even though we’ve been gamma testing for the past three weeks, we officially launched the site on Monday (April 6) with a virtual bottle of champagne across the virtual bow.

I won’t go into detail about what Connect is in this post because there’s a lot about it here, including a Roadmap for future development. If you’re the explorer type, you can skip this post altogether and go play for yourself – just head over to and log in using your ALA website username and password. If you’re not sure what those are, you can find them here.

We’ve worked very hard to provide members with a more robust level of privacy options than they’ve ever had before on both sides of the scale. If you want to be more open about displaying your ALA information, you can display your entire profile publicly. This isn’t the default, but if you’re the 2.0 type who wants everyone to know about the great work you do for ALA, you can toggle this option in your profile to display those affiliations publicly.

If you’re the kind of person who’s worried about sharing too much online, we’ve got you covered, too. In the current member directory on the ALA website (which will be going away in the near future), you can’t hide any of your affiliations – everything is there for other members to see. However, in Connect, you can actually opt out of displaying all non-committee affiliations on your profile. You can choose on a group-by-group basis to hide your affiliation with a community, division, round table, or section. For what we hope are fairly obvious reasons, you can’t hide your participation on an official committee. For more information and instructions about how to do this, read the FAQ about Privacy in ALA Connect.

So here’s a quick overview of how privacy works in ALA Connect.

  • The public sees only your name.
  • Other ALA members see your name, institutional affiliation, and ALA affiliations.
  • You can add more information about yourself, like a short bio, your interests, your job description, links to your blog/Flickrstream/etc., and more. If you don’t fill these things out, though, no expanded information appears on your profile.
  • You can choose to display your profile (minus your contact information) to the world. Add it to your signature file, put the link on a resume, or link to it from your blog.
  • Other ALA members you manually make part of your network see all of the above plus your contact information.

If none of these options appeal to you, you can log in to the ALA website and exclude yourself from the member directory, which will remove you from ALA Connect altogether. Be aware that this means you won’t be able to log in to Connect at all, although this doesn’t affect any other part of your membership or website access.

The exclusion options are also completely separate from your communication preferences, which control how much snail mail and email you receive from ALA. We’ve again tried to err on the side of conservatism while providing members with options, so by default, you won’t receive email from any of your ALA groups unless you log in to Connect and manually turn on email notices. Even better, you can do this on a group-by-group basis. So if you’re on a committee or other official ALA working group, you can turn on email from that group but not from other ones.

So consider this an important heads-up to read about how to set your email preferences in ALA Connect, too.

Please let us know if you have questions about any of this. We’re very excited about this new service and its future!

Numbers about You

Monday, February 9th, 2009

I’m the lead person on our ALA Connect project to create a collaborative, online workspace/professional network for our members, something I’ve been working on pretty intensely for the last year. One of the most difficult pieces was synchronizing the site (which uses Drupal software) with our membership database (called “iMIS”). In making that connection, we came across some interesting numbers as we figured out which pieces to synchronize.

For example, we learned that at the end of 2008, ALA members have an average of 2.1 participations, which are essentially affiliations with an official ALA group (committees, discussion groups, divisions, events, interest groups, member initiative groups, round tables, and sections). If we narrow down the scope to members who have at least one affiliation, 42,000 members have an average of 3.2 participations.

I’m heartened that the majority of members have more than one affiliation, because I think it means they’ve found at least one small slice of ALA that is relevant to them. Where the numbers get even more interesting is when we look at the full range of participations across all members. Clearly, some people have found quite a few areas of interest to them in ALA.

Participations Number of Users
30+ 21
20+ 127
10+ 1794
5+ 6956
1+ 33390
0 21821

One of our main goals with ALA Connect is to help members find the other interesting and relevant pieces of the gooey, amorphous cloud that is ALA. Personally, I hope Connect helps those 21,821 members find ways to get more involved (should they want to), because as the person categorizing the more than 1,000 active groups in the Connect subject tree, I can honestly tell you that ALA is so big that it truly does have something for everybody.

Why Run for Council?

Friday, February 6th, 2009

To work with passionate people like the ones in this video to make a difference.

ALA Council: Who, What, Why, and How

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

2009 Midwinter Report from Keith Michael Fiels

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Just in time for Midwinter, it’s the 2009 Midwinter Executive Director’s Report (127kb, PDF), summarizing recent accomplishments and upcoming events. Some of the ‘highlighted’ stories include:

  • AL Direct, Special Tough Economy Issue
  • Libraries and the Economic Stimulus Package
  • Tough Economy Toolkit
  • Building Statewide Coalitions for All Libraries in a Tough Economy Panel Discussion
  • Add It Up: Libraries Make the Difference in Youth Education and Development
  • ALA and Univision Radio Partner on First-Ever PSA Campaign to Target Latinos
  • Registration Opens January 20 for AASL National Conference
  • William J. Brennan, Jr. Award for Judith Krug.

And here’s some good news from the report:

“ALA Membership through the first quarter 2009 stands at 67,045, a 2% increase over the same period last year. Personal membership renewals are a key indicator of the membership ‘health’ of the association. Through November, personal renewals are 8% ahead of last year. In addition, new memberships are up by 3%.”

Treasurer and Executive Director talk about the FY 2009 Budget

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Last week, the ALA Council raised the question of what steps the association was taking to deal with the impact of the current financial crisis. Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels’ response to Council briefly outlined the steps that are being taken in anticipation of what will certainly be a tough year for libraries and the association. As Treasurer and Executive Director, we wanted to take the opportunity to expand on those comments and to talk more specifically about the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. Treasurer Rod Hersberger will be reporting on the overall picture and plans for the association in a guest editorial in the November Edition of American Libraries, and both of us, along with President Jim Rettig will be updating Council and the membership on a regular basis. The Treasurer and BARC Chair Jim Neal will also be reporting to Council in some detail at Midwinter. The bottom line is that the association has taken steps to anticipate the impact of the economic downturn on libraries, librarians and the association. It is clear that as the economy slows, that revenue growth for state, county and municipal governments will be impacted, whether they are funded through property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, or endowment income. All these are going to impact library budgets, as they have during every slowdown in the past. Because ALA generates five dollars in revenue from publications, conferences, advertising and sales for every dollar in dues revenue, the association definitely feels the impact of  reductions in library materials budgets, spending for technology and online services, and support for conference attendance.  At this point, we have modified our attendance and revenue projections for the Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference to reflect the anticipated impact of higher air fares and tighter travel budgets. Because ALA can only spend what it earns, we have implemented about $600,000 in departmental budget reductions and other association-wide cost-cutting measures in anticipation of what looks like it will be a tough year for everyone in the library community. These reductions represent 2% of the General Fund budget of just over $30 million. Depending on how things unfold over the coming year, not all these reductions may ultimately be needed, but we think that a somewhat cautious approach is best in this uncertain financial environment.  

We should point out that there is a lot of good news. The association remains financially strong and our membership continues to increase. Registration for the 2009 Midwinter Meeting in Denver is off to a great start. We are looking forward to successful annual conferences over the next two years in two of the association’s record-breaking sites: Chicago and Washington DC. We continue to increase and strengthen our advocacy efforts and to develop new and improved services for libraries and members. And our growing advocacy efforts will be needed more than ever.  We believe that we have adopted a prudent approach to the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. Our goal is to weather whatever rough waters lie ahead, while at the same time maintaining our services to members, as well as maintaining forward momentum on the many new and expanded ALA programs and services that benefit all librarians and all libraries.   

We’ll keep you posted as any new developments occur.


–Rod Hersberger, ALA Treasurer, and Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director

Where to Be a Virtual Committee Member

Friday, November 30th, 2007

There’s been a lot of discussion online lately about how to participate in ALA committees as a virtual member (you can find most of the links via the Improve ALA wiki, which was created by ALA members). As a result, we’ve started a new page on the Get Involved wiki for ALA committees with virtual members in order to make it easier to find those pieces of “the work of the Association” that allow for participation without necessarily requiring members to show up in person at two meetings a year. Some may still have physical attendance components, some will be completely virtual, some will be a workable mix of the two. Overall, we hope this helps you find a way to contribute that works for you.

Questions about any of the committees? Leave a comment here or use the discussion space on the wiki page. Know of a committee (or other workgroup) that’s not listed? Help us out and and add it to the wiki!

Where’s AL Direct?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

American Libraries gets that question a fair amount—about five times a week. And with good reason: All ALA personal members are eligible to receive the newsletter, and yet, obviously, sometimes it doesn’t show up in their inbox.

The short answer to any readers who aren’t getting AL Direct is this: I don’t know—there are a lot of possibile reasons— but send an email to letting us know that you’re not receiving the newsletter and George Eberhart or I will investigate.

For those craving detailed insight into anything that can go wrong in email publishing, read on.

Dirty Dozen

So far, we’ve found 12 reasons that AL Direct isn’t making it to your inbox.

  1. An incorrect email address in iMis. That’s our membership database, from which we generate a new mailing list for AL Direct each week. A typo there will send the newsletter to the wrong place.
  2. IMis doesn’t list you as a personal member. This may be because you genuinely aren’t a member—in which case, we’re flattered, and recommend you join the ALA to gain this and many other benefits of membership—or because your record isn’t showing your membership because it hasn’t been processed yet or some other error in the records.
  3. Your ALA communication preferences block AL Direct. Members can set their communication preferences by logging into the ALA website and clicking the “review their communication preferences” link. Here, you can choose from four levels of communication. AL Direct is considered information from an ALA unit, so the “Just ALA, please” or “Official communications only” don’t include it.
  4. The newsletter is being sent to your address, but it’s being redirected to a spam or junk mail folder, or being otherwised blocked.
  5. The newsletter had a soft bounce, meaning that it reached your mail server successfully but not your specific address.
  6. The newsletter had a hard bounce, meaning the address we’ve got is invalid, due to a bad domain, an unknown user, or a network problem.
  7. Our mailing system is still working on getting the newsletter to you. When it registers a bounced newsletter, our system will continue trying to send the newsletter several more times over the next few days.
  8. You’ve unsubscribed. This can happen inadvertantly with stray clicks. It’s also a hazard of forwarding the newsletter: if the person you forward it to clicks “unsubscribe”, your account will register the unsubscribe.
  9. You’ve had enough previous hard bounces to be removed from our list. If an address bounces the newsletter several weeks in a row, our mailing service will assume that it’s a bad address and stop sending the newsletter there.
  10. You’ve had enough previous soft bounces to be removed from our list. Same as above.
  11. The address has been blacklisted. This is essentially the same as being unsubscribed, the main difference in practice being precisely how it happens rather than its effect.
  12. There’s a problem with the query that generates our mailing list from iMis.

The good news is that any of these problems are usually fairly easy to solve, once diagnosed. So, if you’re not getting the newsletter, let us know (that address again: and we’ll sort it out.

—Greg Landgraf, American Libraries editorial assistant