Repurposing the Halifax Library Association?

This week I sat in on my first Halifax Library Association board meeting.  I’m its new treasurer, and while I have very little experience in the treasury (aside from a failed experiment in a B.Acc programme – i left that due to sheer boredom), I’m a glutton for titles and letters and acronyms.  So, I was more that happy to sign on and take part.  My first official act will be to finally pay my membership dues; my second act will be to hound you to pay your own.

As a group, we sat down and hashed out some ideas to improve membership and programming in the coming year.  Although nothing is “shovel-ready” just yet, I think we have some exciting things in store for the fall.  Right now, we’re planning on a “library pub crawl” in September to attract some of the MLIS students at Dal’s School of Information Management.  I’d like to find a way to get the NSCC programme as involved in this as Dal’s MLIS programme, so we’ll see if anything can pan out there, as well.  At any rate, this will all be followed by some extensive evening tours for the entire membership, which will hopefully always finish at a local pub.

One thing that we did discuss at length was the idea of having regular, informal gatherings for the membership to socialize and to discuss whatever the night’s topic might be.  It may be a fund-raising event, or it may not, but either way, it would be a chance for the locals to get together and catch up on their lives and on things going on in the workplace.  The member who mentioned this idea was invoking the HLA’s tradition of holding regular networking meetings before it was called networking by having regular get-togethers in someone’s home, sort of like a “brown bag lunch, except with drinks”.  There is some merit in this: since the larger regional and national library associations have cornered the market on formal professional development, it may be a good idea for the HLA to stick to what it does best – getting like-minded people together.

I have to say that I think the informal-gathering concept is very appealing.  The fact is that the HLA had been doing this for years, and it is known for its roots in social networking.  And given the popularity of unconferences and Camps nowadays, a regular librarians’ meet-up might work quite well.  I’m drawing some of my inspiration for this from the wild success of Halifax’s Third Wednesdays meetup for anyone in the community who is interested in tech, the internet, people and social media.  The 3W meetup started small, but through word-of-mouth promotions has turned into a monthly event that packs a local pub full of professionals who are there to talk and listen and share a pint and talk some more.  Given the sheer amount of libraries in town and the fact that peninsular Halifax does have a bit of a knowledge economy to back up its ship-building, government and military sectors, I think we could organize a similar ongoing event for the local librarian/information professional community.

What this would take is commitment to the cause and an understanding that the event remains informal and social.  This is something that would be about communicating and building relationships..   At any rate, we’ll see how it all pans out – there’s always more to follow.