As you can see by the spelling, yes, I'm American. However the word is spelled, the purposes are the same and I'm grateful to our professional organizations for their wealth of information.
Back in library school, we had to compile a section of our portfolio with information on professional organizations. We were also encouraged to choose one to join, and I chose the American Library Association (ALA). I liked that student rate and felt it was a good national organization to help a new library media specialist gain a better understanding of librarianship. I was right and I loved having so much information available online. I have since been an on again, off again member and I have to say that the main reason has been the cost. Yes, I make a professional salary, but the dues are steep. I join every couple of years, but then my membership lapses. I am truly grateful that anyone can access the wealth of information provided online, whether a member or not, and that is one of the reasons I keep coming back. I also feel that having to pay for each individual division membership is a barrier and drives up the cost unnecessarily. That being said, I realize these are excuses....resulting in my ambivalence about the cost vs. membership benefits for this organization.
At one point Bobbi Newman from Librarian by Day ran for (and won) a council position with the ALA. She asked for feedback on membership. I didn't respond at the time, but it did get me thinking more about my own professional involvement with librarianship. Involvement beyond my own library doors. I've come to the conclusion that to truly get the most benefit from my professional organizations of choice, I must also commit to be involved beyond paying dues.
I began with my educational organization PAGE by becoming the building rep. I had agreed the year before, but didn't do very much. Last year, I committed to learning how to truly represent PAGE and began networking with our district representative. This year I'm bumping my participation a notch by meeting with new employees and hosting our rep for Desserts. This organization provides many benefits for educators of all types while keeping costs very reasonable.
My next goal is to join GLMA...Georgia Library Media Association. It is the state affiliate to the ALA division AASL (American School Library Association) and, for a very reasonable cost, I plan to dip my toes in the pool of professional involvement with a library organization.
That's it. Two organizations. There are so many more to choose from, including a variety of technology organizations, that I could quickly get overwhelmed. For those that are interested, here are a couple of the other options for professional organizations out there today
Georgia Educational Technology Conference-Not really an organization, but certainly a great opportunity to learn about educational technology. Looking at the committees that put this conference together, there are many opportunities for educators and librarians to get involved.
International Society for Technology in Education-GLMA is now an affiliate of ISTE. In today's world, our educational tools are changing. Library media centers play a central role in helping increase access and understanding of digital tools in education.