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Professional orgs & the power of people

July 8, 2011
ALA Dance Party

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Librarian In Black

It’s a refrain heard ’round the web post-ALA:

  • Nicole at The Pumped Librarian: “…I’d say, as networking is really a big part of conferences, to not think of it as networking. It is what it is, but I really just thought about it as making new friends and talking to interesting people.”
  • Andromeda at Across Divided Networks: “…you can gravitate toward neighborhoods where you find your tribe and where people are doing good work, real work… Surround yourself with people better than you, and learn from them.”
  • Annie at cat lady librarian: “…by the afternoon, I had found some people I follow on Twitter and hung out with them. What’s great is that I felt comfortable talking to my Twitter friends because we have already built a rapport online, so it was easy to get along in person.”
  • Patrick at PC Sweeney’s Blog: “Basically, by partying as much as I could with as many brilliant people as I can find, I have been able to learn more meaningful, current, and useful information in librarianship.”

Partying, neighborhoods, friends, tribes and networking,  it all comes down to people and the power we have to make or break situations, organizations, conferences and the like. If you’ve ever questioned the importance of professional organizations (either at the national level like the American Library Association or the local level like the Pennsylvania Library Association), it might be that you’re tipping the scales in the wrong direction. Getting involved is not only about the structured learning opportunities these organizations provide. It’s about gathering people together who have shared goals, experiences and passions to see what ignites. Do you need a “professional organization” to do this? No, not necessarily, but it helps because all of the pieces are in place for something amazing to happen. Go to that party because you never know what kind of partnership will develop over a beer. Talk to that “library celebrity” you’ve been following on Twitter – they are probably looking for someone to welcome into their circle of awesomeness. Professional organizations give librarians the tools and framework for learning in both structured and unstructured environments. Step away from that hotel room. File those session notes away. Instead, spark up a conversation. If we don’t make it happen, no one will.


Erin Dorney is the Outreach Librarian at Millersville University of Pennsylvania and outgoing Treasurer of the PaLA College & Research Division. She can be found on Twitter at libscenester and blogging at Like a fine wine, this post pairs well with the beats of K.Flay’s Party. Enjoy!

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