Board of Directors Discussion on Membership Recruitment

The LITA Board of Directors usually devotes at least an hour of its Saturday meeting to discussion of an issue important to LITA. For this meeting, it was membership recruitment.

Discussion was focused around these issues:

Who do we want to recruit?

How do we attract members of other ALA divisions?

How do we target the different audiences we want?

Andrew Pace raised the issue of library school students: ALA is interested in this as a potential focus, and LITA is definitely accepting of “non-l-word” people, something that library school students have expressed concerns about. Library schools are giving grants to attend conferences and join organizations. Mary Taylor reminded the group that LITA gives free membership to Spectrum Scholarship and LITA Scholarship winners.

Another group LITA has talked about targeting is non-MLS IT people who work in library environments. Bonnie Postlethwaite and Susan Logue have been having conversations with EDUCAUSE about having collaborative educational opportunities. EDUCAUSE is institutionally based, so we are not competing for individual dollars.

Making connections through other associations: SLA – we had one of our preconferences and promoted LITA there. MLA might be harder because you have to offer continuing education credits for them to be interested in your programming.

Other ideas: retirees – maybe retirement is a good time for them to get more involved. Vendors – what is their incentive to be in LITA, and how do we convey that to them? It was noted they get the opportunity to know their users better. We could make more connections with other divisions’ technology programming.

Barbra Higginbotham suggested we might try to get directors to send their non-librarians to ALA/LITA things, and pay their memberships. We need to market programming that might appeal to non-librarians explicitly that way. Should we have focus groups with these people about what appeals to them? It was noted that LITA would not be a substitute for EDUCAUSE, because it meets needs that we don’t in subjects and vendors. A promising way to expand our appeal might be in starting interest groups that focus around what we’re missing. An example happening right now is the petition to create a public library interest group.

Definite action items (primarily for Membership Development):
Reach out to directors to encourage their support of non-librarian IT professionals’ participation in ALA/LITA, and do some research to find out what they like, those who are already participating. One idea might be having programming on “Libraries 101.” One way to identify people with this background who are already in LITA might be to get the registration list for Code4lib and match with it.

Focus on student recruitment – work with ALA, and institutionalize follow up with scholarship members so that they get some special attention. Get LITA members to go to local library schools to talk about the association when the library schools have opportunities for this.

This is where you come in. Feel free to post comments answering these questions and ones I didn’t even ask.

Do you have ideas about recruiting special populations, especially non-MLS IT professionals and library school students?

Are you a library school faculty member, or a LITA member who lives near a library school who might be willing to help recruit?

Are you a LITA member who is a non-MLS IT professional who might be willing to tell us what about LITA appeals to you, and what could be done to make it more appealing?