What can LIASA do for me?
I was in my final year of undergraduate studies when library students were asked to become LIASA members at a special student fee. After my studies, I became an inactive member, and I went to work in an academic library. Librarians around me were renewing your LIASA membership and were always looking forward to the Early Bird breakfast and LIASA membership special. They would attend conferences and lectures exclusively for LIASA members. Many of those lectures could have provided me with insightful knowledge to serve the patrons better in my profession. However, I still failed to renew my membership. I was still asking myself, what LIASA did for me. I do gain any benefit from joining LIASA.
There did come a time when I did renew my membership. I wanted to attend IFLA in Durban but there were one condition. I had to be a LIASA member to have a possibility to attend IFLA. Now there was my motivation. I immediately renew my membership. I started with my Master’s Degree and again failed to renew my membership. The LIASA conference came up and Prolissa and another LIASA conference and I wanted to attend them all. I renewed my membership to attend two LIASA conferences and Prolissa.
The turning point came a month ago. I am now busy with PhD studies at UNISA and I needed to a unit of analysis to build my case study on. My research proposal was ready to be evaluated but I lacked consent to work with street children. In August 2012 I decided to change the title, topic and theme and focus on another area, in line with the MDG, goal no. 3. I approached a unit of analysis in my hometown, but after weeks of negotiation I was finally told that they could not help me.
I was sitting with my hands in my hair, wondering what now. I went immediately on LIASA’s homepage, searched their contact us details and emailed LIASA with a letter of a plea for help. Hannelie Brink-Gerber responded to my email, and that very same afternoon I had emailed LIASA, I received a response. I was introduced to wonderful librarians and the Manager of Emfuleni Library and Information Service. I found my unit of analysis and an answer to my question, “what did LIASA do for me”.
I will renew my membership for 2013 and when I do that, LIASA must confirm it. I urge all you non active membership expired members to renew your membership with me. If you seek action, adventure, empowerment, knowledge and opportunities as a librarian/knowledge specialist, seek no further as LIASA will give you that and more.
Being recognised in this manner as a loyal LIASA member, since 1997, just reconfirms that it is a privilege to be a founder member (number 007) of LIASA and to always be there for Colleagues if they need information. LIASA is the best platform to share our knowledge, expertise, etc.
Thanks LIASA for your contribution to my growth as a Librarian!
Marina van Wyk
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Agreed Marina. LIASA’s impact must be felt in order to know it, and for that we have to be open and willing to experience it. We must also be open to give ourselves away in the process to be blessed with the intrinsic gifts LIASA holds out to us as we journey with through our profession. “it is indeed in giving that we receive”.
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LIASA’s benefits to me is public knowledge and I will always remain immensely grateful for the recognition bestowed on me. I was truly humbled and still cannot find enough ways to plough back in my corner to take LIASA and its vision and work forward.
I listened to a research done on the ‘brain drain’ happening in our profession, and just looking at the last few LIASA conferences. I was asking myself where are our Library EDs and senior library managers have disappeared to. I have witnessed the faithful few attending our LIASA conferences, and other high level Library Related meetings and National and International conferences, however, there is very little participation and leadership visible at Branch activity level. Now I know schedules are hectic and meetings have to be attended, whilst innovation must happen in our libraries and these infrastructures and customer services must be managed. What I also know for sure is that if our Current and retired leaders, or those on the verge of retirement does not encourage and hand over the baton through mentorship and showing active participation in LIASA branch and national activities, our future and legacy will suffer, and upcoming leaders will not have good role models to imitate, or lessons to learn from. In recognition of my many years in the profession and as a library manager I am always receiving with requests for coaching and mentoring by junior librarians and aspirant library managers, and librarians who are qualified but walking around without a job, and needing experience and inspiration. I do what I can, whenever I can. I do my bit, because it is the right thing to do whether I get recognized or not. Training programs cannot teach us everything we need to know, thus we need mentors and coaches and role models. Where is our Library Directors, current and retired.
I salute my colleague Claire. I apologise for mentioning your name Claire, YOU support every branch meeting you can, and does panel discussion facilitation as requested. Where are the others. I would like to make a plea for us as a COLLECTIVE to address this CHALLENGE.
LIASA benefits are not just what is being received now, LIASA membership in most cases is and was the determining factor, amongst other skills and competences that got us into our senior positions. I want to challenge our professional colleagues to plough back and establish a formal mentorship programme where we match and place colleagues together to ensure the strength of LIASA as a profession continues and get even stronger as the years go on.
I was also a member of the Business Women’s Association and This Mentorship was one of the draw-cards for membership. As a mentor I learnt as much as the mentee. BWA did it so successfully. I was a Junior Chamber of SA member and they used the OLD Mutual Senators to mentor us in business acumen and the legality of daily business administration. WHY cannot LIASA do the SAME with all the innovation and change management happening and required in our libraries. This is my challenge to LIASA Leadership on all levels and from all colleagues who deems their membership in a serious light. It is not business as usual in our libraries, Colleagues. It is up to us to ensure that those coming after us will grow our profession even stronger.
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At most librarian gatherings you will hear these words sooner or later. For years I have heard it and tuned out when we started this “topic”. After being a member for more than 5 years, I finally would like to be part of the conversation.
Most people are looking for the tangible benefits of belonging to an association. I must admit that every time I hear the words: “what can I get out of it”, I see the coffee mug I receive annually from my Union. The usual outcomes when joining elite clubs, secret societies and ….. ONLY organisations (fill in the blanks) can include financial improvement, gifts, secret power, exclusivity, the sense of belonging and even the promise to the secrets of life. Granted, not all are tangible but it promise to deliver benefits molded to your dreams. Joining is part of who we are. Human beings have always tried to show their differences by trying to blend in.
SO, my point I am trying to make is: “You don’t HAVE to join LIASA, but I am sure happy I did”
If I may, I would like to take myself as an example. I initially joined the professional librarian’s organisation (not called LIASA then) as a student. The reason I joined was simple; I was told to join if I wanted a job. For a year or two, the word of a Professor was enough to keep me bonded. I got my first job as an assistant librarian and I never thought to ask if I was favoured because of my unique membership card. In my new working life, nobody questioned my loyalty to the profession and to be honest, in a small-town public library there was no call for networking and workshop opportunities. I forgot about professional conduct, benefits and advocacy while trying not to drown in the constant demands of the everyday duties found in a library.
When I moved to Cape Town, I suddenly found myself a very small fish in a big pond. I could have blissfully continued tinkering on, doing what was required of me, but I made a big mistake, I started asking questions. (For example: “Is this it?”) I joined LIASA to find answers. What I found was unexpected. Yes, I received a membership card that I could flash whenever the need arises (no need arose to date), I also found other library friends that sat around asking the same questions. What I did not immediately found, was answers. The more we, the like-minded friends, asked questions the more confused us became. We kept on meeting in small groups, debating about our role in society and that nobody took us seriously. While we solved the problems of the profession in the comfort of our groups, other people were fighting the red tape, the authorities the “walls” that kept on popping up as soon as progress showed its face. They would have probably valued our participation at that stage but we were too busy playing the blaming game to see our value. We kept on looking at our “leaders” to change our plight and waiting for the relevant answers to drop in our laps (step-by-step toolkits included)
Our small groups became bigger, our sharing more heated, our demands more verbal. Along the way some of us met Responsibility. We started asking the right questions: “What can I do?” Brainstorming and Responsibility started to meet. Our questions changed from Who, Why and What to How, When and With what. We got involved. We started to organize, we started to DO. We became bolder and more confident and we started to look at each other for answers.
I never thought that I was a “rock the boat” kind of person but suddenly that is what I found myself doing. I ask uncomfortable questions (even to myself). I started to assume that when LIASA asked for participation and co-operation, they meant me. I now enter competitions, write essays, draw logos, find opportunities to participate and coordinate. I applied and received opportunities to attend the Leadership Academy in Pretoria, the LIASA conference in East London, The IFLA conference in Milan and the PLA conference in Portland. The more I experienced, the more I was challenged, the more I was challenged the more I delivered (I surprised a lot of people, including myself)
LIASA does not give you “money or the box” choices, the game continues with or without your input. It will help if all people in the profession participate and bring their unique inputs and viewpoints to the table. The last conference I attended can sum up the tangible benefits I received as part of the LIASA family. I walked around waiving to people I met at other LIASA events. I hugged my friends and made new ones. I debated issues and found answers. I found new ideas I can apply to my library. I even had the chance to address the delegates with my own ideas. Standing behind a podium was one of my scariest moments of my life that I can’t wait to repeat.
I joined LIASA, have you?
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I joined LIASA in 2007, LIASA has done great things for me and my profession. I'm a teacher librarian who started to establish a school library with the skills i have acquired through attending different trainings, workshops and conferences provided by LIASA. In 2011 I won a DA VINCI grant to attend the IASL conference that was held in Jamaica-Kingston. The grant covered everything including membership for two years, the advert was on LiasaOnline. I'm very much greatful to be a LIASA member. LIASA has done much for me "WHAT CAN I DO FOR LIASA?"
Colleagues let's continue to recruit members and retain membership in our branches.
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As a member of Liasa you can really keep your “ear on the ground” and tap into professional networking.
Liasa is indeed active and vibrant
Join Liasa for better growth!!!
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Join LIASA and make it the professional body you want to be proud of! LIASA can only be as professional as the members it has. If there are too few professional librarians belonging to LIASA, then it is difficult to be a professional body. Those who criticise LIASA for not being professional enough are the very librarians who are not contributing their professional expertise and experience to LIASA's membership. So when librarians criticise LIASA for not being professional enough, ask them what they are doing to contribute towards making LIASA a more professional body. Those who are proud members of LIASA know the benefits of being a member and that there are so many professional and other wonderful opportunities within LIASA and within IFLA as well.
So promote LIASA to your fellow librarians who are not yet members of LIASA and show them what they are missing!
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