LITA Membership Development Committee Meeting

This was my first meeting as a member of the LITA Membership Development Committee; I’ll be chairing it after Annual Conference, so I have a lot of interest in getting the word out about what we do, as well as seeking input about how to get more members and better retain the ones we have.

See the end of the post for the attendees list — maybe you know someone on the committee you can give direct input to. Maybe you’ve got some ideas and you’d like to be on this committee — if so, contact me, Pat Ensor (ensorp@uhd.edu), or Bonnie Postlethwaite.

Meeting notes:
ALA Membership Committee did support a resolution in recognition of Gerald Hodges upon his death. It also voted in favor of the ALA dues raise.

From August 2005 to November 2005, LITA membership is down 1.55%. ALA overall is up, as are PLA and the child/youth-oriented divisions.

We don’t know the specifics of who dropped, who’s new, etc. within LITA, so we should find this out. Discussion focused on how we increase membership. If we want to attract a growing sector, people in library technology who are not librarians, we may need to go beyond the Forum and make the LITA part of ALA conferences much more technology-oriented. It was pointed out that people who go to the Forum used to automatically get LITA membership if they weren’t already members, but we stopped doing this. What is in LITA for them besides the Forum, if anything? Can we get people to join at the Forum? Most academic technology people go to EDUCAUSE, but public library tech people aren’t especially served by anything.

Incentives for joining — it’s hard to balance what’s open and what’s available only to members. We need to market more. What goes out to new members? Mary Taylor joined the meeting and said we do send mailings to new members, continuing members, dropping members, and reinstated members. The committee asked to see the specific reasons why people dropped. It was mentioned that we probably need to start pointing out the blog to new members, with the RSS feed.

Mary distributed a membership report — there has been a 7.21% decrease year over year. This was expected to some extent with the dues increase. The committee asked to get more of a breakdown of characteristics of personal members.

LITA needs to focus in more on who it is we’re trying to recruit. The trend in the last few years or so has been to position ourselves as serving the more advanced technology needs of people in libraries, and to also make it clear we’re interested in cutting edge technology and we provide a place for people to talk about that. Membership will be the topic of discussion at the Saturday Board meeting at Annual Conference.

NMRT — There is more we could do to connect more closely with them. pat will work more with this.
Forum membership focus — Christina agreed to coordinate an effort in this area — perhaps handouts, a “booth,” a meeting point.
EDUCAUSE — We have tried to market through this conference in the past, but this is still a possible interest since that’s where many of the people we’re looking for are concentrated. Maybe a social event would be a good venue. Susan Hollar will look into this. Bonnie is pursuing more formal education programs, etc.
LITA booth at Annual — This needs to be organized. Jennifer Weintraub agreed to do this.
Annual Conference — The committee agreed to make a block of events at Annual Conference. Saturday, we’ll have Open House 4 to 5:30, then Happy Hour 5:30 to 7:30. Navjit and pat will work on having a coordinated presence at the Open House where we distribute information and are available for questions about how to get the most out of your LITA membership, including information about what you can do if you can’t attend all conferences. This might grow into a Midwinter managed discussion. Navjit will work on a happy hour location when we know where the Open House will be.

Online community as a draw — this is now in place and it should gradually become of more interest. The current association discussion on education is vitally important to drawing and keeping new members.

We also want to have more drawing points for people in technology in public libraries. It was pointed out that one of the great strengths of LITA is that interest groups can be self-organizing. What if someone already in LITA who is interested in providing a meeting point for public library people just started an Interest Group on public library technology? This would give something sollid for people to do if they were interested in joining. Bonnie will look into public library members of LITA who might be interested in this.

Kari Swanson, Brad Eden, Howard Spivak, Christina Biles, Jane Kunstler, Peggy Steele, Navjit Brar, Pat Ensor, Bonnie Postlethwaite, Mary Taylor, Susan Hollar, Jennifer Weintraub