It’s no news to anyone that when library budgets get tight and cuts need to be made, one of the first things to go is the travel budget. Follow that with any continuing education budgets, then staff cuts that make even using personal time to take a day to go to a workshop difficult, and before you know it librarians can find themselves feeling isolated, cut off, and downright grouchy about it.
So how can you remain involved when you’re stuck at home (so to speak)?
- Right now you are doing one great thing-reading the YALSA blog! This is a good way to keep abreast of trends, news, and topics of interest (such as weathering the economy!). Much as I love the YALSA blog, though, it is not the only one out there. There are many blogs and sites about young adult librarianship and literature. Find an online library community you enjoy (a blog or even a group on ALA Connect) and fresh content and voices will help keep you in the library loop and excited about what you’re doing.
- Keep your association membership: Even if you have to pay for your membership yourself, I encourage you to keep up your membership. It is a small investment into your career and future and well worth it. One thing you should do, though, is make sure you are paying the correct amount! ALA and YALSA both offer a variety of membership rates (student, retiree, unemployed, etc.) Read more about them here. Still balking at renewing? Why not ask for membership as a holiday gift?
- Explore YALSA options: Serving on a committee means a level of commitment that can definitely be compromised by the economy. If volunteering to serve on a committee is not a good option for you right now, consider joining a discussion or interest group. These groups do not require attendance at conference and are groups with a specific interest. Find out more about these groups here.
- Free! Free! Free!:’ YALSA offers free monthly online chats on a variety of topics, hosted at ALA Connect.’ If one of the things you liked about attending conferences and symposiums was the chance to share ideas, get excited about a specific topic, or look for solutions to something, then try an online chat.’ You don’t have to pay or travel, but you still get to take part in something very valuable.’ You can further expand on the experience by participating in First Wednesdays with YALSA.’ ‘ These are local events hosted by members, where you participate in the online chat and continue the chat in person with friends and colleagues.’ You can read more about them here.
- Keep in touch:’ Friends, colleagues, and connections, both local and national, are important for so many reasons. Many librarians may find themselves, due to staff cuts, suddenly quite alone. Having someone to talk to who truly understands your job can be sanity saving.
Keeping up and continuing to build your professional network (through any of the suggestions above!) is an important investment to your career, as well.’ No matter what the future holds for you, it can’t hurt to have lots of people out there who know your name and what you have to say.