Notes From The Campaign Trail – Part Three

Editor’s Note: Here is the third post in a series from Scott Walter, ex-ACRLog blog team member, in which he shares his learning experiences as a candidate for ACRL office.

Recruitment and retention in the profession are critical issues for our future, and they are equally important for an organization like ACRL that draws its strength from its members. The key question is often posed as: how can we make sure ACRL remains relevant to the rising generation of professionals?

That’s an important question. That’s a critical question. And, despite my time on the campaign trail, I don’t have “the answer.” What I do have, though, is a better appreciation for the fact that it’s not the whole question. Recruitment and retention are key issues, but the way we talk about those issues often neglects a pretty important group of people – everyone who we have already successfully recruited and retained, but who aren’t done learning, growing, and contributing to ACRL.

This is what I heard: “I know recruitment and retention of new librarians is essential, and programs aimed at those groups are wonderful and need to be supported, but what does ACRL offer to an experienced person still looking to grow?” After hearing enough versions of this question, I began to think that I had made a mistake when thinking about this – I forgot that there should always be “Three Rs”: recruitment, retention, and renewal.

ACRL has wonderful programs that give voice to rising members of the profession and give them an opportunity to contribute to our common work. We need to continue working on these, but we also need to do a better job paying attention to programs aimed at experienced professionals that recognize their need for continued professional development and support their interests in making a wider impact on the Association, e.g., looking at people who have led successful initiatives at the Section or Chapter level and helping them to bring those initiatives to the Division. What does ACRL do to help the experienced professional renew their skills and renew their commitment to our Association? I think we do a lot, but what I heard is that we could do more.

I loved Steven’s characterization of the Giveback Generation Librarian . One lesson I learned on the campaign trail is that people want to belong to a giveback organization. I’d like to hear some ideas about how to make it happen.

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