LITA 201 Midwinter 2011

Are you a new LITA member, or one who hasn’t quite found your place in the organization yet? Not quite sure what LITA is all about? LITA 201 is a session intended to introduce people to the organization and help them find a meaningful way to get involved and get connected. Don Lemke, chair of the Membership Development committee, headed this session and introduced the newbies to the organization, and to invited Committee chairs and Interest Group leaders.

LITA is a broad organization, encompassing librarians from all types of libraries, doing all kinds of work, involved with every type of information technology imaginable. The main goal of LITA is to help people make connections. It’s easy to get boxed in to your specific work, and to cut yourself off from people doing different things, but through LITA, you can stay current and aware of things going on throughout the field. LITA is about people, and according to Andrew Pace, head of IT at NCSU libraries and an active member of LITA, it’s one of the best professional networking organizations in ALA.

There are a lot of ways to get involved with LITA, and the best way to get started is to reach out and contact the chair of a committee or interest group that sounds compelling to you. Involvement is welcome and LITA members will do their best to help you find the right place in the organization. The first place to start is on lita.org, where you can find a list of Committees and Interest Groups. Interest Groups are an easy way to get involved: If you find something that sounds interesting, get in touch with the chair to find out more. You can start your own interest group if you don’t see your interest represented already.

Committees usually require a two year commitment, and while some do involve travel to conferences, virtual participation is becoming easier. Committee work revolves around outreach, education, scholarship, membership, and governance. It’s easy to get involved right away, and there is a volunteer application on the ALA website. The organization seeks balanced committee membership, with a good mix of established and new LITA members, and are always welcome to involvement from new members.

LITA sponsors the National Forum, Regional Institutes, and Pre-Conferences, which offer another way to get involved, and to learn interesting things that will make you a more effective librarian. The National Forum planning committee is a great way to get involved with LITA, and they are always looking for paper and presentation submissions.

Mentorship is a growing area in LITA: The organization is full of both digital natives and digital immigrants, and we both have things to teach each other. LITA is interested in connecting people who can provide each other mutual benefit. If you’re interested in being involved, contact Don Lemke with information about what you have to offer and what you are interested in learning in return.

If you are at ALA Midwinter this year and want to find out more, attend the Town Hall meeting, Monday morning from 8 am to 10 am. The meeting will be in the Convention Center room 01A, and breakfast will be provided (free food!). It’s a great chance to hear about what the organization is doing, and to contribute your ideas for the organization (I can personally attest that when I attended my first ALA Midwinter meeting as a young student who had no idea what she was doing, the people at the LITA town hall meeting were warm and welcoming, and really seemed to appreciate my input, so don’t be shy!).

LITA Happy Hour and LITA Eats are also important ways to get involved with LITA. These events offer less formal ways to get to know each other and make connections. We can let go and sit and talk with each other outside of a professional arena. This is where we really get to know each other, and it’s a great place to meet people and begin to find out how you can fit it in in the organization.

The most important thing to remember about LITA is that the people involved are what make it useful and fun. Your contributions will be welcome, however you can contribute. Because of it’s broadness, there is certain to be something you’re interested in. All you have to do is reach out and contact a committee chair or interest group head to find out the best way to be involved. LITA is happy to help you find your place, and will gladly welcome you into the fold.