Okay… stop laughing at the title. There is a perception of law librarians as being too quite and sitting behind a reference desk waiting on someone to come us and ask a question that they can answer. But, if you go to an SLA or AALL meeting, you’ll see a different side of law librarianship. Librarians discussing the hot topics of the day ranging from vendor relationships to workplace rights and even social issues. I’ve enjoyed sitting at round table discussions where law librarians have heated conversations about how they need to address the issues of staffing reductions, budget cuts, all while having to handle increased demands for the services they provide to their firms, courts, faculty or public users. However, one firm director I know mentioned to me that law librarians tend to be preaching to the choir, but not doing much preaching to anyone else. Her suggestion was that those in management positions in law libraries need to expand their professional circles and join at least one other, non-librarian, association in order to have an audience that they need to be preaching to.
One of the organizations that she suggested was the Association of Legal Administrators, but there are numerous organizations out there that would help expand your professional circles. One determining factor may be to look at the professional organizations that your administrative leadership belongs to. I happen to like ILTA because I know it is an organization that many of my fellow managers and directors belong to. Attending these meetings, even if it is just on the local level, exposes me to other leaders in my organization, as well as peers in other firms that I would never see at a law library meeting. There are probably dozens of other non-librarian associations that are out there that would help you expand your professional circle (feel free to add some suggestions in the comments if you have any favorites to share.) One suggestion is to ask around at your organization to see if your organization has a blanket membership to professional organization (like mine does for ILTA… remember I’m cheap, so a free membership is something I’ll take advantage of every time!!)
These associations are in addition to your current librarian associations. For those of you that don’t belong to any associations, or don’t contribute to the conversation of your current association… shame on you. Remember, if you’re not involved in the conversation of the direction your profession is heading, then you can’t complain when others make those decisions for you.