For most of us, it is daily routine to: stay in touch with colleagues and friends in Library Land; connect to new people; share news and stories; discuss ideas, problems, projects; work collaboratively on projects. This all mostly happens via informal learning networks that we create and maintain online and is further nurtured through wonderful events such as Cycling for Libraries.
Lots of library associations struggle with this situation because they used to be the main providers of an (offline) infrastructure that exclusively made these things possible for their members for decades. Even more, it seems they are not actively taking part in these informal networks today as described above, but rather react to what is happening around them. As a result, personal members often tend to perceive them as being too bureaucratic and lacking transparent and efficient decision-making processes.
Now library associations need to revisit their standing and self-understanding in the information profession and rethink categories like “membership” and “member participation”. One way to tackle this situation could be to become an active part of the informal learning networks. This could boost member enthusiasm and change the associations’ image into being more transparent. On the other hand, emerging trends and hot topics discussed by the online community could be early and more easily taken into account and supported in the associational context with better human and financial resources.
This, in short, is how I see the current situation in several cases based on my own experience and from what I know from friends and colleagues. I would love to hear about your views. Do you agree on this trend? Are these kinds of synergies already happening in some countries? What could be done both by library associations, by their members and by those using informal learning networks to put these potential synergies into practice?
Looking forward to seeing you all soon in Amsterdam!