On organizing and networking

One of the things I do in my Working Life is serve as one of the two co-chairs of the Dalhousie student chapter of the CLA.  Although I took this role on with a little bit of reluctance (I’m a busy guy, always on the go, etc etc), I’m happy to do my part in this volunteer capacity.

There has been quite a bit of work involved with standing in for the CLA at the student level.  This workload is balanced, however, with the opportunities I’ve had to meet an inordinate amount of people – young stars and veterans alike – in the LIS field in Canada.  In the past two weeks I’ve spearheaded a successful Professional Partnering Programme that matches LIS students at Dal’s School of Information Management with professionals in the region, as well as helped organize an annual talk given by the president of the CLA to the students of the class. Last Friday, John Teskey, CLA Prez, rolled into town and gave a great casual chat to 35 students on the role and effects of technology within the profession and on our own careers.  It was all very good, and the organizing committee was more than pleased with the results.

By reflecting on this past month, however, when so much of my time has been committed to organizing these two events, I’m glad to have shoved away my initial reluctance to take on the role of co-chair. I’ve met a lot of people – formally and informally – in the past six months (let alone the past year) by way of working with the CLA, and I’ve begun to figure out exactly what fields I’d like to work in, ideally with whom, and ideally where in the world I’d like to work.  But it hasn’t been all one-sided – this close interaction with seasoned professionals is perhaps a small reward (if not an intangible perk) for my volunteer associations work.  I may be left “some-kinda-tired” at the end of certain weeks, but in the long run the local LIS community has improved – if ever so slightly – by my efforts, and hopefully so will my career opportunities.

So is this a general call to go and volunteer in associations in your field?  Possibly, yes.  I think it may be more pointed, though.  If you’re an LIS student, then think long and hard about taking part in these extra-curricular activities.  The coursework in your programme will help you learn about theories and methods in librarianship and information science, but don’t forget about the stuff going on outside of the classroom.  Where a people-profession, for sure, so be sure to get to know some people.

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