As I write this, it is that special time, smack-dab between Christmas and New Year’s, that I always use for reflection on the year that was, and for doing some contemplative planning and goal-setting for the year ahead.
When I turn my focus to AzLA it becomes obvious that an engaged membership is the most powerful resource we have, and where we were able to tap into that potential, we did amazing things. We are a work in progress, and each member has a role to play in making AzLA the association we want it to be.
In terms of reflection, for me first and foremost is recognition and gratitude for the members who stepped up and contributed not only to the big events and projects, but to the day-to-day operations and the under-the-radar activities such as meetings and communications that keep things moving along. I thank you for taking a chance by putting yourself out there, being more involved, and giving your time and effort to your association and your Arizona Library colleagues. Aside from a few key contracted positions (who themselves deserve our thanks for their efforts!) we are an association of volunteers trying to do our best despite sometimes vague definition/direction and amidst the priorities of work, family, and life in general. If we communicate and respect each other we will continue to successfully move things along going forward.
The missions and challenges of libraries in Arizona are incredibly diverse, and while I have learned a great deal this past year through interaction and discussion, I’ve yet to hear anyone say they are satisfied with the status quo and that there isn’t more that can be done. What is consistently at high levels is the dedication and effort of library staff across the board to provide quality resources and services to the customers/clients/patrons we serve. This diversity and dedication is gold if we can tap into it for sharing amongst a group of like-minded practitioners.
In terms of planning and goal-setting for 2015, I’m asking everyone to step up their commitment to AzLA. Not everyone needs to run for an AzLA Office, but you surely can contribute by encouraging the good people you workwith to run for AzLA Office. Not everyone needs to volunteer for a Committee or lead a Division or Interest Group, but you surely can contribute by sharing quality resources and information via the AzLA Newsletter, listservs, or social media options we have available, and/or responding to information shared with you by others so your voice is heard and you are enriching the conversation. Not everyone needs to present at Conference, but you surely can contribute by sharing information about good speakers you’ve seen and topics that need addressing, or by volunteering for a couple of hours on-site at Conference to make sure things run smoothly. Not everyone needs to be intimately involved in AzLA activities, but if you have good staff that are interested, you surely can contribute by allowing them to participate at a higher level. Not everyone can be an award-winning superstar, but you surely can contribute by nominating folks who have quietly dedicated themselves to outstanding library service or have shown creativity in addressing an issue. And finally, not everyone needs to be intimately involved with legislation affecting libraries, but you surely can contribute by being aware of the issues and communicating with your representatives when the situation calls for it. I don’t think any of these are too demanding, and they are extremely helpful.
In closing I’d like to share a resource that I came across while checking out our current Content Management System, yourmembership.com. It is a brief, provocative list entitled, The Ideal Member, and I would be grateful if you could adapt it for AzLA, and keep it in mind for 2015:
I pledge that I will be an ideal member by:
- Investing time to help fulfill the mission
- Taking advantage of the opportunities and programs to better my organization and myself.
- Staying informed about available resources and by reading the association’s materials.
- Volunteering my unique knowledge, resources and experience to the organization; and knowing when I’m too busy to be a volunteer.
- Promoting the association to others in my industry/profession, so as to expand the power of unity.
- Keeping contact information current to enable the association to fully utilize my membership for the common good.
- Promoting the highest principles in the profession/industry.
- Treating staff with professional respect; recognizing that paying dues does not make them my employee.
- Respecting the volunteer leaders for their contributions — even if I might not agree.
- Maintaining professional, transparent, collegial relationships with fellow members.
- Offering timely input on issues and public policy development, including responding to calls for action and surveys.
- Supporting the grassroots advocacy efforts with my time and dollars.
- Understanding and participating in elections and governance opportunities.
- Ensuring that dues renewal is a part of the culture and budget of my organization.
- Recognizing that the members are the association—it is not something separate from us, or a business from which we buy services—and that without our investment and participation the advancements cannot be achieved.