What is the Purpose of an Association?

Jane Blumenthal wrote a very thought provoking post on the future of associations.  In the past people usually belonged to an association so that they could meet other people with a common interest, make contacts, share information, and learn from each other.  These associations helped their members achieve this by holding conferences, producing publications of the profession, and creating networking opportunities.  Before the Internet that was an effective method to get like minded professionals connected and communicating. 

With the rise of social networking tools and society’s acceptance of alternative communication tools, the question some are asking is, “What is the future of an association?”  For Jane, the question is more specific, “What is the future of MLA?”

The MLA Board has had many conversations around this issue. As a result of those discussions, the Emerging Leaders Task Force and its Rising Stars program were created.  However, the work of the Task Force raised additional questions. We were mentoring future leaders for the association, but where would they be leading us? The Board has asked the Leadership and Management Section to gather information from our members about where they would like to see the association in 5 years. A task force within the section is currently conducting a survey and focused interviews to gather this information.

Where would you like to see MLA in five years? What do you anticipate your future professional needs will be, and what services can the association provide to meet those needs?

What are your thoughts on the MLA of the future?  What is the role of our library association as we are able to connect virtually?  Will the Annual Meeting become a giant week long webinar?  Will people still write articles for publication in JMLA?  What do you think your needs will be in 5 or 10 years from now?  Will MLA be able to help you with those future issues?  Whether they can or can’t help, what are the ways the association needs to adapt so that it can still remain important in the lives of librarians and address those future needs?

Please feel free to comment and post your thoughts on Janes post.  I know lots of us are interested in your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “What is the Purpose of an Association?”

  1. A week long webinar would be great. I think it could happen quite well as long as we have the proper technology to support it. To get that great in person feeling we could have a short, in person banquet at the end or even a week later. I imagine employers would rather save all that money and just send us for a day or two instead of a week.

  2. I am wondering if some ideas might be found here: http://projectinfolit.org/st/rainie.asp

    Actually being at a conference or meeting is increasingly difficult even though it is tremendously enjoyable, satisfying, stimulating and fun. I loved being an e-registrant this year but did miss the camaraderie and fun, especially the spontaneity.

    The association, for me, has been critical for my professional and personal growth. We just need to find new ways of associating!

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