Joining ALA as a student, even if you’re not currently working in a library setting, has lots of benefits.
I joined ALA and YALSA before I even applied to library school. After a few months of working in a library, I knew this was what I wanted to do, and joining the professional organization was a great decision.
1. Joining ALA will never be cheaper.
You can get a student membership for $35.
You can get a joint membership with your state organization for the same price in most states.
2. ALA give you lots of opportunities to explore your interests.
If you’re unsure about how involved you want to be with national professional organizations, starting out as a student is a great way to test the waters.
If you’re not sure what areas of librarianship you want pursue, exploring the divisions and roundtables is a great way to see what work in various subfields, types of libraries, or specialties would look like.
3. There are opportunities for scholarships, grants, awards, and volunteering.
Depending on what divisions you are interested in, there are lots of members-only perks. For example, in just the three years I’ve been involved in ALA and YALSA, I’ve received a grant for Teen Read Week programming at my library, volunteered as a contributor to YALSA’s The Hub, and won a writing award.
ALA can seem like an intimidating organization, but in reality, the administrative office is comprised of just a handful of people who are friendly and willing to answer any questions you have.
The professional organization is only as good as its members, and you only get out of the organization what you put in. If you’re on the fence about joining ALA and wondering if its worth your $35, I highly encourage it!