LITA, LLAMA, ALCTS collaboration FAQ #3: finding your niche, serving personas, participatory communications

On February 23, I posted for discussion a proposal on a closer formal relationship between LITA, LLAMA, and ALCTS. That included an anonymous feedback form where you can ask questions, express feelings, et cetera. I will be collating and answering these questions every few weeks here on LITAblog (so please keep asking!).

Since that time I’ve gotten six (!) questions. I’m going to break them up across several posts; here are the first two.

[S]ince tech is such a big field…[t]here is quite a lot that is relevant to me [in LITA], but it is difficult to find sometimes within discussions….I’m worried about how much a merger with ALCTS and LLAMA would amplify this problem.

This is definitely a thing that’s on our minds as well. It can be hard to find your niche within an organization as large as ALA, and part of the role of the divisions is to make that easier; we want to make sure everyone would still be able to find their home.

In the near future, you should see a membership survey asking about what you find valuable in your LITA, LLAMA, and/or ALCTS membership. This, plus recent work by LITA and LLAMA to learn about our memberships (e.g. the LITA Personas Task Force), will guide our thinking on how a combined division could be structured in order to retain the touchpoints that are most valuable to people.

Combining divisions would also significantly reduce the amount of administrative overhead, which would free staff time to focus on member engagement — LITA Executive Director Jenny Levine has a lot of great ideas on that front that she doesn’t currently have time to implement.

How is combined LITA/ALCTS/LLAMA going to serve their unique personas?

This question included a lengthy set of follow-up questions and statements, including “I can see to some degree combining LITA and ALCTS; they are both technology-themed organizations”; “What was the result of the LITA personas study a few years back?”; questions about the benefit to LLAMA; and “Perhaps we should at least have a participative webinar in which LITA and ALCTS members can share their thoughts in a public forum”.

I will leave questions about the benefits of LLAMA for the LLAMA leadership to answer.

You can read a summary of the Personas TF work here on LITAblog, or the full report. One of our LITA personas is the administrative member. It turns out that people with titles like “Director of Libraries” or “Head of IT” make up a high percentage of LITA members; this is a group that came up through technology and loves their LITA network, but doesn’t always find the content they need today via LITA. A LITA/LLAMA connection makes a lot of sense for this group.

There are certainly LITA members who have no aspiration to be in leadership and thus might not get new opportunities via LLAMA, and that’s okay! Even as it is today, LITA has a lot of niches that aren’t relevant to all its members. For instance, our interest groups include Heads of Library Technology and E-Rate & CIPA Compliance – neither of them directly serve me (I’m not a head of IT or a public or school librarian), but they’re great resources for their members, and I’m very glad that we can provide those spaces for people who are engaged in those issues day-to-day.

In re the webinar, I enthusiastically agree. In fact, I think we should have a lot of participatory webinars. And social media conversations. And mailing list conversations. In fact, the whole leadership group agrees, and we’re putting together a communications working group right now. They’re going to be in planning mode until Annual, but after that they will be facilitating the interactive experiences you’re looking for.

The combination of prior research (like the Personas report); the member survey coming out soon; and these upcoming two-way conversations will allow the leadership group to identify what aspects of LITA, LLAMA, and/or ALCTS membership are most meaningful and valuable to people. That in turn will guide the answer to your question on serving unique personas. (And also non-unique ones; some of the LITA member personas are also major groups within LLAMA or ALCTS.) I’m extremely interested in hearing where people feel most at home in their divisions, so that we can maintain those aspects going forward — while also giving people the opportunity to access more content and a wider network if that’s helpful to them.

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