Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part I.

A friend was saying she wanted to get more involved in LITA, but when she applied to be on a committee she hadn’t heard anything, and she wasn’t sure what to do next.

First off, I don’t think the current round of committee assignments have come out yet, so if you haven’t heard yet, don’t assume you didn’t get anything. But second, I spent my first few years in ALA kind of obsessed with how to get involved without joining committees, and it turns out there are lots of ways.[ref]While I am now on a committee — the planning committee for LITA Forum 2013 — I have high standards for joining them, and I suspect non-committee forms of LITA involvement will remain important to me for a long time.[/ref] So here you go: how to get involved in LITA, without joining a single committee!

This started out as one blog post, but then it was, like, 2000 words long, so now it’s a series. This is part I. The parts will all be posted, daily for the next few days, to the how to get involved in LITA tag.

Aw yeah interest groups

If you take only one thing away from this series, let it be this. Interest groups are lightweight, flexible, member-driven groups that, well, convene around specific interests. They have almost no prescribed activities or governance structure, but allow for formal existence within ALA (including meeting space and time at conferences, and special consideration in the program planning process). This means they can be an instrument for all sorts of things. They also have no budget, so you have to be creative, and they sunset after 3 years unless you apply to keep them going — in my opinion, a feature, not a bug, as they thrive precisely as long as people care about them, and get out of the way when they outlive their usefulness.

There are 25 interest groups in LITA right now (5 of them joint with ALCTS), spanning a wide range of interests. If none of them support what you want to do, it is easy and can even be fast to start one. (Idea-to-formal-existence of the IG I cochair, Library Code Year, was something like 24 hours.) There’s an IG formation petition form on the IGs page; collect some signatures from LITA members and submit it to the chair of the Bylaws Committee. (Contact information for LITA Board members is visible on the official Board page if you’re logged in; the chair of Bylaws is on the Board ex officio as the Parliamentarian.) Petition approval requires Bylaws approval followed by Board approval, IIRC, but both of these bodies can vote via the polling feature in ALA Connect, so you don’t have to wait for a conference for this process to resolve.

Stay tuned for future posts about how to get involved in LITA, including fun at conferences, communication channels, and how to get your super-wonk on.

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