The ALCTS Affiliate Relations Committee decided to do something a little different this year at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference with an “Affiliates Showcase.” Instead of putting out a call for presentation submissions from affiliate groups, the idea was to have a discussion forum on various issues facing local, state, and regional technical services groups. These local groups often play a critical role in professional development and community building for library staff.
Several discussion topics were decided upon (including how to find speakers, video streaming and licensing, and leadership continuity), with a facilitator from the committee assigned to each. Due to low attendance at the forum, the decision was made on the spot to have a single discussion at one table instead of breaking up into multiple tables. Four members of the committee as well as three other participants attended.
Participants spoke about the local, state, and regional groups they are members of (whether official ALCTS affiliate groups or not) and what benefits, training, and programming are offered to members throughout the year. They also mentioned some of the challenges that these groups face.
Several common issues emerged from this discussion, including:
- Challenges with finding and retaining leadership
- Challenges with keeping membership numbers up
- Funding issues tend to deter people from belonging to multiple groups
- Perception that state groups tend to cater more to public libraries
- Difficulty in finding qualified or interested speakers
A few suggestions and best practices for affiliate groups also emerged:
- Keep dues as low as possible in order to encourage membership.
- Try focused, one-day pop-up conferences (online or in-person) on specific topics.
- Specific workshop/training topic ideas included:
- Practical, hands-on, focused topics such as label printing, packaging media, and more
- Soft skills (e.g., wellness, stress relief, time management, communication)
- Adapting to changing roles in technical services
- “What’s new in…” programs (e.g., cataloging, acquisitions, electronic resources)
- Integrated library system-specific sessions (e.g., Sierra, WorldShare, Voyager, Evergreen)
- Always take surveys after programs to aid in assessment and planning for future programming.
This was a small yet fruitful discussion that generated some good ideas to take back to our local, state, and regional technical services organizations. Several attendees who were not currently members of any of these smaller organizations said they would be doing some further research into joining one when they returned home.