People who work in public libraries are moved to do so by the extraordinary possibilities that libraries create. PLA members are connected to a community of nearly 9,000 public library professionals where they can share skills and develop new ones. Joining an interest group will allow PLA members to find their niches and connect with peers of similar interests. Please note that interest groups are exclusive to PLA members, so PLA personal membership is required to join.
PLA is piloting eight new interest groups on ALA Connect to increase member engagement, foster connections and networking, help members find what they need, and drive conversations around key areas affecting public libraries. PLA interest groups include:
The Advocacy interest group is for members interested in educating our communities about why libraries and librarians are essential in an information society.
Data and Measurement
The Data and Measurement interest group is for members interested in increasing their knowledge and skills related to library data, assessment, evaluation and impact.
The Digital Literacy interest group is for members who provide digital literacy training in their libraries, or for those interested in learning more about making their libraries digital literacy learning centers.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) interest group is for members interested in building skills and organizational capacity to address issues of EDI.
The Family Engagement interest group is for members interested in helping children and families in their communities succeed in school and life.
The Health interest group is for members interested in increasing their knowledge and skills related to consumer health services and programming to help patrons better navigate complex health issues.
Immigration and Citizenship
The Immigration and Citizenship interest group is for members interested in providing accurate and useful information about immigration and citizenship at their libraries.
Workforce Development/Small Business
The Workforce Development/Small Business interest group is for members interested in establishing, sustaining, and promoting workforce development and/or entrepreneurship and small businesses in their libraries.
The interest group moderator is the subject matter expert for the group and is responsible for keeping members engaged through new content and discussions. Moderators agree to lead their interest group for one year. The current moderator will also help identify their successor before their one-year commitment is completed.
Lead ALA Connect discussions
- Welcome new members
- Seed new content at least once every 2 weeks, including any of the following:
- Starting a new discussion
- Responding to an existing discussion
- Asking a question that requires follow-up from members
- Following up with members that respond to your questions
- Sharing resources
- Sharing stories and experiences
- Pointing members to additional subject matter experts
- Highlighting member contributions
- Expand the community by identifying other key subject matter experts (PLA Members) and invite them to join the group
- Help PLA staff identify key contributors
Lead virtual meetings
- Is there a discussion you want to expand upon or introduce to the larger PLA community? Request a virtual meeting from PLA staff. PLA interest groups will have access to PLA’s virtual meeting platform to schedule and run their own meetings.
As a result of moderating a PLA interest group, you will:
- Grow your professional network
- Increase your professional development skills
- Increase your leadership skills
- Apply your leadership skills
- Increase your knowledge of the topic
- Increase your confidence in the topic
- Apply what you learn in your library
- Increase your awareness of resources related to the topic
- Share what you learn with colleagues
- Increase your engagement with PLA
Tips for Engaging an Online Community
- Cultivate stories—insert your personality and experiences
- Create a posting schedule (biweekly posts)
- Be the welcome wagon—welcome new members & encourage them to post; congratulate new members that post
- Ask questions that matter to the community
- Accompany each post with follow-up questions; use actionable language
- Encourage members to share stories and photos
- Reward contributors; showcase and cross-promote member-generated content
- Identify subject matter experts to help answer unanswered questions and drive discussions
- Request virtual meetings for popular topics emerging from the community
- Schedule “Ask Me Anything” sessions with subject matter experts
- It’s okay to have fun! The interest group topic may be serious, but the discussion doesn’t always have to be.