Students in graduate programs in Library and Information Science are preparing to enter a rapidly growing profession. They acquire skills, particularly digital skills, in managing information sources of all kinds, including but not limited to books and their preservation. Because of the rapidly evolving nature of their subject matter, Library Science students are well advised to join and participate in professional organizations. By attending their conferences and contributing to each organization’s scholarly journal, Library Science students stay up to date in their field and network with peers and employers. Below is list of five of the best professional organizations for students planning careers in Library and Information Science.
Founded 140 years ago, the American Library Association is the oldest and largest professional organization for librarians in the world. Since the 1930s, the ALA has played an active role in promoting access to information and opposing censorship of all kinds. As a generalist organization, it promotes libraries and librarians of all kinds, although it does maintain a number of specialized divisions. The ALA hosts two general conferences each year, the summer conference attracting up to 25,000 participants. Students of Library Science will find the ALA extraordinarily welcoming: it offers special student dues, student rates at conferences, local university chapters, scholarships, and access to its quarterly job-search newsletter.
As its name implies, the Association for Information Science and Technology focuses its attention upon the technological aspects of information storage and access. Founded in 1937, ASIST was initially interested in the development of microfilm as a means to store information. Over the decades, the organization has remained in the forefront as computerized means of data storage and retrieval were developed. Today it is actively involved in the study of internet databases, their use and development. Major journals in this field can be accessed by members through ASIST’s digital library. Enjoying an increasingly international membership, ASIST offers student memberships as well as local student chapters at select universities. Students are encouraged to attend and participate in the annual conference.
Art librarians have a special range of skills and concerns. They not only care for art collections and see to their display, but also manage image archives and assist scholars in their research into the history of art. The Art Libraries Society of North America seeks to represent the concerns and interests of these individuals. Founded in 1972, ARLIS/NA offers students and professionals alike a number of opportunities to publish and participate in webinars and conferences. Students of Library Science interested in becoming art information professionals will find that the ARLIS/NA provides its members with frequently up-dated job listings and other career support.
While other library associations tend to focus upon the interests of academic libraries, the Association of Independent Information Professionals seeks to attract freelancers. Nonaffiliated researchers, content developers, consultants, and others interested in information management will find that the AIIP has a number of resources for them, including a quarterly journal and annual conference.
Unlike the previous professional organizations whose primary focus is upon libraries in the USA and Canada, this association has a pronounced international element. Founded in 1927 and headquartered in the Netherlands, IFLA represents information professionals in over 140 countries around the world. IFLA publishes a scholarly journal and hosts an annual conference at locations around the world.
Students majoring in Library Science should consider becoming members of one or more of these excellent professional organizations. They provide information about the current state of the profession as well as ample opportunities for students to publish, attend conferences, and network across the many divisions of this actively growing profession of library science.