This article was co-written by the e-Forum moderators.
A special joint ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA e-Forum “Discussing a New Division” was held on November 27–28, 2018. This e-Forum focused on getting feedback from the membership on the possible merger of the three divisions and was moderated by members of the new division Communications Working Group. The discussion saw more than 170 messages over the two-day e-Forum. Participants represented all three divisions and included individuals with a variety of experience, from new professionals to 40-year ALA members.
After introductions, discussion moved on to the strengths of the existing divisions and what members would hate to see lost in a new division if they merge. The number one division strength shared by members of all divisions was strong continuing education, specifically webinars, e-Forums, web courses, and division-specific programming. Generally, participants expressed that the individual divisions do an excellent job of providing forums and content for members to connect on issues of special interest, and there was concern that these niche areas of interest may be lost in the shuffle if the three divisions merge into one. Many participants stressed the value of finding their professional home in their division and expressed that they would hate for that to be lost in a merger.
Moving to division weaknesses, participants focused on a lack of leadership development programming in ALCTS and LITA, and the fact that none of the divisions truly follows a member from beginning to end of career. Other weaknesses mentioned included the financial burden of multiple division memberships and travel to conferences, an absence of programming presented by mid-to-late career professionals, and challenges with regard to producing quality continuing education.
Interestingly, most weaknesses were countered with how creating a new division could counteract that weakness. For example, the lack of leadership development programming could be bolstered by a merger with LLAMA. There were concerns from LLAMA members that participation in the division can be challenging, but both ALCTS and LITA members stated an ability to serve the division as a strength.
The end of day one focused on what would be exciting about a potential merger. Conversation focused on the financial savings that would come from a merged division and excitement for the additional resources, opportunities for service, professional development, and networking that would come with a merged new division.
Day two of the e-Forum focused on the future. What will a successful new division look like, and how do you see yourself in that new division? Looking five years into the future, participants saw a division that is at the forefront of creating a more accessible, virtual professional education model for ALA. The future division would provide interactive learning communities that meet regionally, for both professional interest groups and informational networking. Most importantly to participants, free continuing education would still be offered and existing publications would continue. Participants stressed the importance of communication when it comes to ensuring inclusion and continued service in the new division.
The new division Communications Working Group and Steering Committee want to thank everyone who took part in this robust and engaging e-Forum. If you weren’t able to participate in the e-Forum but want to share your thoughts, or if you just want to stay in touch with the new division discussion, please join the ALA Connect community, ALCTS/LLAMA/LITA Alignment Discussion.
To view the full e-forum transcript, visit the ALCTS e-Forum Archive.