ALA INTERNATIONAL MEMBER SURVEY
As part of the efforts to gather information from all types of members to assist in the planning for 'ALAhead to 2010' the International Relations Office asked international members to provide feedback in April 2004.
At the end of July 2003 (ALA Handbook of Organizations 2003-2004) there were 2,181 non-U.S. members, and increase of 15% since 2000. International members constitute nearly 3.5% of ALA membership. There are ALA members in 80 countries, though close to half of the non-U.S. members are in Canada.
An electronic survey of International Members was created with the help of ITTS, and emails were sent to all personal members with valid email addresses. 258 International members responded to the survey from 55 countries. This was a 15% return rate.
Importance of Current Products/Services
In response to a series of questions on the importance of ALA products or services to members the most important aspect of ALA membership was the 'ability to keep informed of latest, library issues and developments.' American Libraries was also second most important service even though 50% of the respondents receive the magazine either one or two months after publication. (Now that full issues of AL are online IRO will notify international members when the new issue is available electronically).
Other current services from ALA that were important to ALA international members were the ability to attend conferences and other meetings at member rates and the ability to purchase materials at member rates. Services that were of less importance were the ability to use ALA staff as a resource, to vote in elections and to serve on committee.
Interest in Possible New Products/Services
Even though regular service on committees wasn't highly valued there was strong interest by international members to serve as virtual members on committees. They would also like to create ALA international member groups by region.
They would also like to participate in ALA web through CE courses. Interest by topic was across the board, but the most interest was in CE courses for management, especially management of e-resources and digital libraries, marketing, information literacy, and cataloging from AACR2 to metadata.
What Do International Members Value Most In Their Membership
In response to what international members value most in their ALA membership responses were similar to traditional reasons to join an association- the ability to keep up to date on issues and trends worldwide, pride in being part of an internationally well-respected organization, the ability to network and find divisions, roundtables, etc in their specific areas of interest or expertise, and the value of attending conferences.
What Do International Members See ALA Doing Well
International members see ALA doing well in keeping members informed on issues affecting libraries and librarians. International members have a high regard for the lobbying efforts of ALA to the government and stands on issues affecting libraries-intellectual freedom, censorship, etc. They think ALA is doing well in make the public aware of these issues through the campaign and other efforts. The think ALA generally does very well in promotion of libraries, noting PR materials such as Read posters.
International members think that ALA puts on great conferences and value the large exhibitions. They also think ALA's publications are very good. A number even commented that they like the website. These responses are not a big surprise since ALA is much stronger in these areas than other library associations around the world. The number commenting on lobbying efforts was unexpected.
What Does ALA Need To Improve On
More effort needs to be made to involve international members, including in more opportunities to participate in presenting at programs, eligibility for scholarships, help in navigating conference. ALA needs to improve on providing timely information on its activities, support and ease in assistance on inquires re: membership, conferences, etc.
They would like to see some more exposure of either international members or international libraries in American Libraries or other publications. ALA needs to help other library associations around the world. Many do think the website needs to be improved. The cost to participate in ALA is a concern for many.
What Issues/New Services Should ALA Focus On To Help You
ALA should provide more opportunities to connect international members around the world with U.S. members through special interest/issue chat rooms to create a virtual environment as well as other opportunities for connections.
ALA should provide more information on latest trends in an easily digestible format/updates. ALA should collaborate more with other library associations such as the Canadian Library Association in production of continuing education efforts.
There is interest in ALA offering joint memberships with other associations. More programs, workshops need to be provided through teleconferences/webcasts for members who can't get to conferences. ALA and units should also consider international conferences, institutes such as the one held by WESS in Paris. ALA should make it easier to purchase and deliver ALA products, and should take into consideration costs for internationals through more discounted opportunities for products.