How to get involved, networking and other related topics have been on my mind lately. Getting involved in library associations can seem intimidating, difficult and confusing, but it’s not as hard as it might appear. If you look around this site, you might notice that under Professional Activities I’ve had a pretty busy couple of years. I’ve been heavily involved in my state library organizations and also in ALA committee work. If you’re like me, you look at people who are so involved and go “How do they do that?” or “How can I get involved?”. I want to tell you how I got here.
In 2006, just before I started at my current job, I made a few professional resolutions. These were the result of a conversation with a friend of mine who is perpetually challenging me (and others, I’m sure) to do better and do more. One of those resolutions led me to this position! Another one led to my increased activity in library related organizations. Of course, that’s not to say it was an immediate thing (see my post about “stupid conferences” and my lack of networking skills). One of the first steps I made was to start submitting program proposals to my state library association. That helped to get my name out there and to encourage other people to approach me (the Speaker ribbon is a great conversation starter at a conference!). (Want to see my follow-up resolutions? They’re here)
Another thing I did that helped with the national conferences was to get involved with the Library Society of the World. This group of librarians from around the world (literally) gave me a great group of people to look for at national conferences and helped ease my “networking” pain. By allowing us to meet virtually and communicate nearly every day, the LSW allows librarians to get to know one another and “meat” each other at conferences. That means that we already know each other and can pick up where we left off when we see one another in person! The person I don’t recognize isn’t really a stranger! This group has been an amazing help to me at conferences – it’s a good sized group, which also means that there’s nearly always someone to hang out with, talk to, or go to dinner with.
So after I started meeting people at the state and national conferences, I started getting asked to do things! Since many of our organizations are volunteer-run, they’re desperate for people to do things. So, many times, all you have to do is show up and say yes! So I did. Now, I’m trying to learn to say No!
Just because an organization is run by volunteers doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to be run well. Just because you’ve said “yes” doesn’t mean that your commitment has ended there. Volunteer organizations need quality work, just like your place of work. So…say “yes’ and do your best work! (you can see how it’s easy to get over-extended, right?)
After such a busy couple of years, I’ve decided to practice saying “No” for a little while. I ‘m starting to feel the pain of burn-out, and that’s not where I want to be. So I’m scaling back on new commitments and trying to focus on balancing my life a little better. I’m going to stay involved, but I’m also going to work on my hobbies – sewing, gardening, etc. I’m also going to try to increase my involvement in my community. I’d like to pick up my Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity volunteering and maybe meet some new people who aren’t librarians!