I haven’t really gone into work details here before, but I’ll briefly mention that I am a UK based librarian who works in the special libraries sector. I am also a solo worker, so I appreciate all the information that I get from the professional blogs I read. I don’t really get chance to discuss policy and strategy directly with fellow librarians, and that is why communication through blogs, best-practice wikis and alike are so important to me.

Now, there are a lot of very useful UK-based blogs out there. Phil Bradley’s blog is an excellent source of information, and Sheila Webber on the information literacy weblog always has excellent advice to give, and points her readers to very useful IL resources that are available online and in print. However, as you’ll see from my blogroll, the blogs I read predominantly come from the US. There seems to me to be a greater buzz around librarianship in the States, especially in terms of pro-active action and adopting new technologies to improve services to users. This “can do, will do” attitude is very appealing to me, as is the lack of inhibition the librarians show when writing openly about difficult topics and stirring debate amongst their readership.

This brings me to my main point. I am a member of our national professional organisation, and, in the main, I am happy with what I get from my membership. However, I do worry that I’m only getting one point of view, and a limited focus. The blogs I read tend to raise issues which, on the whole, I don’t see being addressed here. Wider reading on a subject is always going to be good for developing a rounded view, and networking in different circles will allow exposure to varied points of view. With that in mind I’ve been thinking that perhaps I need access to articles and information that focus in greater detail on my particular field. Then again, perhaps I require comment on the same topics covered by the literature I already receive, but approached from a slightly different angle and with (possibly) a little more zeal. Or, perhaps I need both!

Personally, I’m not sure whether I would benefit more from being a member of an organisation with a narrower focus, or just an organisation that represents different perspectives. Therefore, in the time-honoured tradition of trial and error I’ve decided to try both paths at once. That way I can compare and evaluate the benefits and see if one outweighs the other (or if I achieve a happy medium). Therefore, for a narrower focus I am going to become a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) to see what they have to offer. For an alternative perspective on current awareness issues I’m turning to the American Library Association (ALA). These seem like sensible first steps away from what I know best and into new areas where my own knowledge will (hopefully) be challenged, and supplemented with new ideas. They also offer that element of certainty that comes from joining long-established organisations – i.e. knowing (within reason) what you’re “letting yourself in for”. 😉

I am, of course, open to suggestions of alternative bodies to join should anybody have any ideas. If not, I’ll stick with my choices and see how it goes. Once I receive my first contact from them I’ll post my first impressions here.

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