Thursday, July 9, 2009

Professional membership numbers down, due to recession

The ALA has reported that memberships in the professional association are down due to the recession. Membership (both new and renewing) is down 2.8% for the ALA as a whole, but the article reports much larger drops for PLA and RUSA.

Now, I am quite pro for professional memberships--if the dues are reasonable. Sometimes they are not--and you find out that the association is operating in the red and has been for several years. I also don't tend to join professional associations that have a discriminating salary scale. I think a due is a due and you should spread it out evenly amongst the membership since we are all, supposedly, getting the same benefits.

The drop shouldn't be a surprise: I think that if individuals are paying for their own memberships (as students obviously are) that they tend to renew them--and be pretty picky about where their money is being spent. If your employer was paying your membership fees and they have cut back their budgets, professional development gets cut, or people share the benefits of their professional membership as best they can, like sharing copies of magazines or forwarding emails from a listserv that is normally closed to members. (I also haven't gotten my American Libraries in a while: what gives?)

Can you claim your professional dues on your income tax? I can, so I tend to remember to renew since I put my tax stuff together at about the same time I renew with the ALA--think about that, professional associations that only let me renew December 1st, or some equally stupid month, where I also have to pay school fees or buy presents. Giving some more flexibility in payment times might encourage membership.

So, I am not surprised that membership numbers are down, but there may be other ways to counteract the small loss, like giving people who were members in good standing for more than 5 or 10 years, a free year, cuz you love and value them, and extending the period that you can be called a new librarian--since, according to the article, students are still signing up.

No comments: