Brought to you by the NMRT Student and Student Chapter Outreach Committee (SASCO)
“Kick-Starting” ALA Student Chapter
by John Siegel, SASCO Committee Member and Student, University of Maryland
Shortly before the New Year, an MLS student posted a message to the NMRT-L mailing list. This student was seeking suggestions on how to promote an ALA Student Chapter on campus and encourage student involvement. In the hopes of assisting this and other MLS students interested in beginning or reviving an ALA Student Chapter on their campus, the members of SASCO wanted to dedicate this month’s column to resources and ideas that might aid students in getting an ALA Student Chapter up and running.
The ALA Chapter Relations Office offers several online resources which may be useful to students who would like to form a student chapter on campus. Specifically, ALA has a "Student Chapter" webpage, accessible at http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/chapters/studentchapters/studentchapters.htm, which includes information and tips on how to start a student chapter. In addition, students considering the formation of a student chapter are encouraged to join the student chapter mailing list, STUCHAPT. Through this discussion list, students can easily communicate with other ALA Student Chapter officers and faculty advisors around the country and receive feedback and suggestions from individuals who have first-hand experience in forming a student chapter.
An additional suggestion from the ALA Chapter Relations Office is that students wishing to start a student chapter on campus may contact their local and/or state library associations for possible assistance. A list of state library associations, including contact information, is accessible at http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/chapters/stateandregional/stateregional.htm. Note that some state chapters also have local divisions, which may be worthwhile to contact.
If your library school has other active student clubs/organizations, such as a Special Library Association (SLA) Student Chapter, consider working with these established groups. A partnership with one or more of these groups may be particularly useful in promoting the ALA Student Chapter and finding out from other chapter officers and members both what works and what doesn’t work in getting students involved. Also, if you are in a large state, such as New York, or live close enough to another state, such as Maryland (if you reside in the District of Columbia), investigate the possibility of partnering with a nearby ALA Student Chapter. Joint-sponsored events, such as speaker panels and job fairs, are often easier to coordinate given peoples’ busy schedules and may draw a larger student crowd.
Speaking of peoples’ busy schedules, you might also want to consider holding an off-campus social event, such as dinner and drinks or a bowling night. These events provide students an opportunity to relax (which everyone welcomes!) and network in a non-intimidating environment.
Also, remember that as much as some students would like to get involved, they may just not have the time to participate on a regular basis. These students, however, may be more than willing to help support the chapter in small ways – such as communicating one-on-one with students in their classes and encouraging them to become involved. Therefore, it is important to keep everyone informed about chapter happenings. The best way to do this is through your school’s MLS student emailing list.
We hope these resources and suggestions will be useful to you. Don’t forget that the SASCO Committee is always here for you, too! Please feel free to contact your SASCO school liaison. If you do not know who your school liaison is, please contact one of the SASCO Committee Chairs – Larissa Gordon ( Larissa.firstname.lastname@example.org) or Amy Harris ( email@example.com).
If you already have an established ALA Student Chapter, SASCO would like to hear from you! Please let us know about promotional events that your Chapter has coordinated and that have proved successful. We will feature your events, and your Student Chapter, in an upcoming article.