Attracting and Retaining Young Professionals in ALA
Today I had a meeting for the Membership Committee’s Young Professionals Subcommittee (YPSC), which is a newer group developed from what was previously the Young Professionals Task Force. The main issue we are trying to tackle is how to get and keep young professionals engaged in ALA and the profession as a whole.
During the meeting, a distinction was astutely made between our mission and what many would consider to be the work of the New Members Round Table (NMRT)—namely, that NMRT serves members who are new to ALA and YPSC addresses the needs of members who are new to ALA and the library profession. NMRT helps new members navigate ALA’s structure and learn how to get more involved in divisions and round tables. The Young Professionals Subcommittee, on the other hand, serve those who are not just new to the profession and to ALA, but also to the workforce. The needs of experienced library professionals, as well as their journey through ALA and becoming an information professional, will be different for someone who is new to librarianship, ALA, and having a career in general.
Since YPSC is still new, we are currently trying to figure out our structure. However, the goals we’ve established revolve around not just promoting young professionals and making sure they are heard within ALA and the profession, but collaborating with other groups who could be considered stakeholders in attracting young professionals to ALA and retaining their membership in the Association. More collaboration will likely better integrate young professionals into the Association, as well as help these groups understand each other if misunderstandings arise. (Additionally, assumptions about intentions can often lead to friction between younger professionals and librarians with more experience in the profession as well as ALA.
We have some ideas floating around about how to accomplish this work, and being a young professional myself, I am enthusiastic about what opportunities we could recommend and potentially provide for young professionals—which, of course, could also benefit all members, old and new alike.
NICOLE PAGOWSKY is an instructional services librarian at the University of Arizona in Tucson and tweets at @pumpedlibrarian.