Letters from ALCTS

charles wilt, alcts executive director

From the Office

Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director

Spreading the Word About Us

ALCTS is a great association. We all know that. Some say we are the best. I have to agree and it is not because you pay me to do so. So why are we losing members? And then what can we do to show people how essential we are to their professional lives? It is all in the perception of value someone gets or does not think they get from belonging to an association. There is nothing extraordinarily complex about this. If people do not think it is worth their money, then chances are they are not going to belong very long or at all. We are not alone. Most of the other Divisions and ALA are suffering like us.

Soooooo, our job (and yes, it is every dedicated member’s job) is to keep those potential and lost members in ALCTS. Sooooooo, how do we do that? Ah, good question. But the answers are not easy. But of course, I will try since that is the point of writing this month’s article. Getting and keeping members when times are tough, when money is short, and when perceptions (good and bad) rule.

Coming up with ideas is not hard. Much ink has been spilled writing about how to attract and keep members. These are all good ideas in concept, but implementing and seeing results are always quite different. The other Divisions and ALA have their own methods from mailings to phone calls to phone calls from leaders to member get a member campaigns to more letters and messages and so on. Each works somewhat, but none are 100 percent effective. Demographics play a part, as does encouragement from colleagues and managers. It is probably true that if your department head belongs and wants you to do so, you will join.

ASAE (the American Society of Association Executives) recently conducted a survey called “Decision to Join”. I have the survey templates and will run the survey in the fall for ALCTS members and hope you are not over surveyed by then. The questions are interesting and should provide us with some valuable information. One aspect of the survey which I really like is the idea that you survey non-members as well as members and compare the differences.

The ALCTS Membership Committee is working on a series of messages to send to prospective and recently dropped members. This is an overall plan to put together a marketing strategy to make more people aware of the work we do as an association and the work that individual members do for the association.

It has often been said that ALCTS is just not “out there” enough in front of people. However, being “out there” with nothing to offer and being “out there” with the products and services we provide is not quite the same thing. We have to continue to add value to our membership. I have written about this before so I will not go back over that again in detail. We do need to continue to produce good publications, timely continuing education, opportunities for members to serve, opportunities for members to be engaged, and opportunities for members to find the help, support and encouragement they need from being part of ALCTS.

None are easy tasks and we must be conscious of the fact that it takes work and time and dedication to make ALCTS attractive to others, just as it did when each and every one of you joined. You saw something in this association that was unique and worth being a part of. Now our task is to tell others that story, so they can see the value of being part of what is the greatest division in ALA, ALCTS.

Contact Charles Wilt (cwilt@ala.org).