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#blogjune - Guest post by @kym_andrews - My ALIA membership

It’s that time of the year again where I start thinking:  Should I or should I NOT renew my ALIA membership? I get those polite emails reminding me that my ALIA membership fees are due.  Since it’s June/July, it’s also the time that my land rates come in, my water rates, my insurance, my …., I think we all understand this picture.  So as has become my norm, I think how easy it would be to walk away from our Library Association.  

Then I start asking myself some important questions:

To me, what does ALIA provide?
- Access to INCITE journal
- Conferences
- PD Events
- Advocacy

Access to INCITE journal? 
I get my Incite, received electronically, which I read sporadically.  If my place of work has an institutional membership then I can grab that copy to read so how is this beneficial to me as a member?
There were occasions when I felt it had reverted into a gossip magazine, “What we did for (Insert Book Week, Library Week, Volunteer Week here).  I wished it would inspire me more, tell me more, be proactive rather than reactive.  Although to be fair, I feel it has improved a lot.  

Do I go to conferences?  
I can’t afford conferences.  Conference prices are too pricey for me, over $1000 just to attend the conference and that is usually just the conference fee.   Can conferences be cheaper?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I know the prices makes it prohibitive for a lot of people to attend.

Do I think the conferences reflect value for money? 
I was very lucky to go to ALIA Info Online this year.  It was an amazing experience for which I’m grateful for.  An experience I wouldn’t have had if ALIA didn’t exist.  I definitely got value for money and my workplace who invested in me, definitely got a value for money as I returned to work inspired but also with very real practices to put in place.

Do I attend PD events from ALIA?  
Yes.  I’m on the committee for ALIAWest who try to make these PD events happen.  Sometimes we succeed, sometimes not, but we try.
Do I get enough professional development from ALIA?  That’s tricky.  I CHOOSE not to pay for online courses available from ALIA as they don’t match my current professional needs.  I choose not to participate in the PD scheme, at this time.  Are there enough PD events in Perth, enough networking opportunities?

So what do I get from ALIA?  Do I feel I get value for money from my membership?  
I am aware that ALIA do some amazing things behind the scenes.  They fight to keep our libraries open, a fight we all need to participate in by joining FAIR. They advocate libraries with politicians and the 'people who get things done' by making sure that they are aware that libraries aren't dead, that we are not going the way of the dodo bird, but are a vibrant and necessary part of any community.  But mostly, I GET WHAT I PUT IN!!!! 
Something not a lot of us realise these days - that we need to contribute if we want to expect results 
Do I write articles for Incite?  No.  But I could and I certainly should. I know what I want to read from others so I should write for the journal.  Do I attend the PD events? Yes I do and I enjoy them.  I enjoy hearing people speak about topics I'm passionate about and I also enjoy the wine and nibbles while chatting to fellow librarians.
I can't help but think: "Be the change you want to see in your Association!"  

My favourite TV show EVER is “The West Wing”.  I own the complete set and I have watched it multiple times.  One of the many fantastic lines within this show is “that decisions are made by those who show up”.  I truly believe that. So yes I will be paying my ALIA membership.  I’ll be working on the committee to try and get more PD events.  I’ll speak to people at these events, about trying to get new faces on the committee so we have fresh outlook.  I’ll read my Incite and maybe, one day, I’ll write an article.  I’ll save up for those conferences or keep begging my work to pay for them (that one really works for me).

ALIA isn’t perfect and you have a right to not pay it if you wish.  But if you don’t pay, then you don’t have the right to complain.  If you want it to be better, if you want to influence those decisions, then you need to show up.  This is our profession, this is our professional body, let’s make it great together.

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