I’m a member of CILIP and was active in the University College and Research Group prior to its merger, serving on both London regional committee and then National Committee for a number of years. My involvement introduced me to a fantastic group of fellow professionals, who were inspiring, energetic, knowledgeable and friendly! Especially working in smaller libraries I found my engagement extremely valuable and rewarding and can’t speak highly enough of the benefits I accrued. On leaving the National Committee (having done a 6 year stint) I’m finding myself at a bit of a loose end in terms of proper engagement with CILIP except through being a chartership mentor, and hope to get more involved with a group or other part of CILIP in the near future.
I’m also a member of the ALA and ACRL (American Libraries Association and the American College and Research Libraies Group). While one day I’d like to go to one of their conferences the main aim or joining, and benefit, has been access to their journals and other such information. Now of course they are publishing in open access but I do prefer getting my print journals and reading them on the way to and from work. It is interesting to get perspectives from outside the UK and hear about other initiatives from a slightly different context.
But my professional networking isn’t restricted to these bodies. I’m a member of SCOLMA (The UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) www.scolma.org which provides information and networking for librarians looking after African studies, and was a founder of ANZLAG (the Australian and New Zealand Library and Archives Group) which had a similar role in terms of supporting Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies. That group and BACS LARG (the British Association for Canadian Studies Library and Resources Group) are currently largely non-active but with the scope to run one off events as and when members see the need and have the time and energy to contribute. Outside of libraries I’m a member of the Society for Caribbean Studies www.caribbeanstudies.org.uk and was a committee member. Largely composed of academics and researchers this is a useful group to keep abreast of another of my subject responsibilities. I’m also on the working group for the ELIAS (European Libraries in African Studies) Group, and earlier this year was at their confernece in Basel, and looking forweard to Lisbon next year.
In London I’ve taken part (and in the past had subgroup involvement) in the M25 and CPD25 consortiuum and in the Committee of London History Librarians. And I used to attend meeting of the archives AIM25 group.
Overall I’ve (a) been lucky to have been able and encouraged to be part of a large number of networks and (b) got a lot out of all of them, both in personal terms and also for my institution. Membership brings both personal and institutional benefits and also boosts both personal and institutional profiles.