Wanna get involved in LITA?: An Experiment

A couple of months ago, I was talking to Andromeda Yelton and a few other women on IRC and the discussion of LITA came up as Andromeda is running for board in the current election. I lamented, as I always seem to do, that whenever I tried to get involved with LITA actively in some fashion whether by responding to open requests, joining committees, or starting a SIG, I never seemed to get a response back from anyone within the organization.  It is super frustrating because there IS content coming out of the org, but seemingly trying to penetrate it is some kind of Byzantine affair.
Andromeda said this was one of the things she wanted to change once she was elected — there are a lot of amazing people out there with a lot of awesome talent and skill sets that could make LITA amazing but it’s current set up is driving us all away. Her response was to write up a HOW-TO guide on how to get involved and since this started with me, in a way, I  promised her I would renew my due and try out her tips for a year to see how much her advice worked.

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part I.

Andromeda’s first suggestion is join Interest Groups. She lays out all the reasons why this is a great idea, with the big one being flexibility. I also liked the fact that there is short life span (they sunset after three years, but can be renewed ergo they reflect current interests of the profession). Working from the top, I started checking out IGs of interests and here are the ones I selected.

  • Digital Library Technologies Interest Group
    Due to my resurged interest in repositories and past work with digital archiving, this is right up my alley. I check out their page and see there is very little in terms of content or resources. I head to their mailing list page and see there has only been a few emails in 2013 (namely adverts and solicitations).  I’ll join the mailing list, the group on CONNECT, and get the RSS feed for the public posts on CONNECT.
  • Emerging Technologies Interest Group
    Another interest up my alley, and unlike the DLT group, Emerging Technologies has content on their page. Except – no mailing list nor can I find it on the list of all ALA mailing lists. They DO have a CONNECT site, which I join and also pull their RSS feed as well. Downside: With the except of the 2013 Midwinter dates, the content on the CONNECT site is two years old and older.
  • Technology and Industry Interest Group
    Established in 2011, this group is the melting pot of vendors, librarians, organizations, and everyone in between. CONNECT is rarely used as is the email list. I subscribe to the mailing list, join the CONNECT site, and add the RSS feed.
  • Universal Accessibility Interest Group
    My institution has started several initiatives with Accessibility, so again, this is another one of my interests. I join the CONNECT site (again, content is not currently upated), grap the RSS feed for the CONNECT site, and join the mailing list. Now the mailing list is not listed on the IG page, but I did search for it list of all of ALA’s mailing lists.

I also looked at Open Source Systems, Standards, and Mobile Computing but figured four would be a good place to start.
Almost all of the IGs looked as if they were incredibly quiet, if not dead,  if the mailing lists and CONNECT sites were to be believed. If work is being done, it’s being done somewhere not immediately visible which then brings up the, “How do I get involved?” question up again.

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part II.

Communication. It’s the backbone of librarianship. Andromeda recommends following LITA via Twitter  and Facebook  and to subscribe to the LITABlog as these are the official modes of disseminating news about the org.
This is one of my biggest complaints to Andromeda: The official channels are pretty dead. I used to follow @ALA_LITA, but their rarely updating feed meant I would often miss something if they posted in the waterfall that is often my timeline, so I unsubscribed from them and put them on a list to check at my leisure. I had added the LITABlog to my RSS reader ages ago, but the site mainly pushes job openings and not much else.
I apparently had NOT liked LITA on Facebook, so I  made sure to do that AND added them to my interests list (apparently the current way to get all the content from page/person).
I never knew about LITA-L as a separate mailing list because I was getting email what I assumed to be LITA-L for years now only to find out what I was getting was the more advertisement / announcement stuff as opposed to discussion and involvement stuff. That’s super confusing. I’ve now joined LITA-L.
Now if you’re not on Facebook, or Twitter, don’t know about LITA-L, and stopped following the blog, other than getting content from the random LITA email every once in awhile, how are you to know about upcoming events and shenanigans?
You’re not and you won’t.
This isn’t a LITA thing, or a even an ALA thing, but it seems to be a lot of big orgs thing: Blind acceptance your public is going to follow you on Facebook, or Twitter, or something else that requires a login to get access to.  If you’re not updating your blog/website with the same information you’re putting to your community on those sites, then you have failed at your job.

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part III.

Conferences. I LOVE conferences. The learning, the networking, the gossiping, the often free booze.
When I headed to ALA Annual in 2010, I was looking at the workshops/pre-conference list and saw a LITA technology petting zoo. My interest was piqued until I saw the multi-hundred dollar price tag associated with it – for a technology petting zoo that was filled with mainly open source software freely available to download.  No one could give me an explanation as to why I had to pay all that cash (on student budget) on something I could do at home.
Ever since then, I’ve been weary of LITA at conferences.
But keeping true to my commitment to give my wooing of LITA my best gung-ho effort, I submitted not one but two proposals to LITA Forum (one solo, the other in partnership with Val Forrestal). In addition, I’m going to ALA Annual this year (first time since 2010), and will be tracking the LITA tracks while there so expect updates from the various conferences.
I also started following LITA Planning Committee on CONNECT and added them to my RSS reader. (They also seem to rarely update CONNECT, but no stone unturned, etc).

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part IV.

Board meetings. This one I have not yet had an opportunity to take advantage of yet, but as I am on the official communication mailing lists now, I should be able to monitor quite easily.

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part V.

Informal communication – my favorite. I already follow Andromeda on Twitter, but I also subscribed to her Twitter list of LITA Board members, many of whom I already follow. I also follow numerous people involved in LITA who are not on the board via Twitter or their existing blogs, so there are those options as well.
She makes it clear she’s listing her favorite places and haunts and others should search for ways via channels they really like, but I think there’s a good point to be made here. I’ve been working on cleaning up and closing social media accounts I do not use or have interest in, so a lot of potential ways to meet or get involved are closed.
For example, I dumped my LinkedIn account last summer after LinkedIn was hacked. I have no intention of starting an account there again as I didn’t find it particularly useful and often, more intrusive than Facebook. I am on Google+ but I look at it maybe once a month if I even remember that often. I was on FriendFeed but dumped it because I was never really active on it.
This will be an interesting experiment this year how to keep up with what is going out in LITA via informal methodology, especially if stuff seems so random.

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how, part VI.

Holy cats pajamas. I’m not sure I’m ready for this quite yet. The manual will probably begin as more of my speed, but this something for further down the field. Just not today. 🙂

Wanna get involved in LITA? Here’s how: your turn.

I really appreciate and am grateful all the work Andromeda did to put this together, but I’m curious as to the other responses she received  as there is very little commentary on her blog. I wanted to make an honest effort on changing my perception of LITA because I want to contribute to my profession in meaningful ways. I’ve been a member of LITA since the days I was in library school (I graduated in 2010) and I never felt like I was part of a community that was supposed to be supporting me.
Here are the things I learned so far from Andromeda’s posts:

  • You can get the RSS feeds of groups in ALA CONNECT. This is awesome because I almost NEVER log in to CONNECT and the ability to get the RSS feeds of public content will keep me up to date on lots of stuff.
  • I had no idea LITA-L existed until recently.
  • I was not aware of LITA Forum, also until recently.
  • There seems to be a genuine effort for transparency but it needs more work.

At the very least, if anything comes out of this, it should be organizations like LITA should have a friendly, single HOW-TO guide freely accessible to hand to their new members to  get them started in the organization.
I’ll be checking in every couple of months or so on this experiment to see how things worked out. Stay tuned.