PALA is the information and library student's chapter of the American Library Association (ALA). One of the great things about PALA is that there are no fees to join! In fact, if you're enrolled as a LIS student at Pratt, you are automatically a member of the organization. This means you should definitely stay up to date on all of the meetings, talks, events, and trips arranged by PALA, because you are always invited. They have a constantly updated event calendar with events taking place most nights of the week.
Pratt's student chapter of the Special Library Association is one of the best resources if you are interested in private or specialized collections throughout New York City. Student membership is $40 annually and this includes participating in SLA events, chapter awards, and annual meetings—this opens up opportunities to see what it would be like to be a special collections librarian. They also post their events and have occasional internship postings.
IXD is a collaboration between User Experience and Information Architecture. This is a place to bring new ideas and learn new perspectives from others in related, yet different fields. Discussions of ideas and issues, tools and techniques, expert voices, design critiques and projects are among the things one could expect from attending a meeting or special event. This organization is open to any school of information student, not only UX/IA students.
The Pratt chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology is an organization within the information community that focuses on research as means to create more access to information. This student-run organization also has a monthly calendar of meetings and events to attend. The cost to join is $40 annually, but it comes with many benefits.
The American Alliance of Museums was formerly known as the the American Association of Museums and is a non-profit association that has brought museums together since 1906. This well-established and internationally recognized organization helps to develop standards and best practices, gather and share knowledge, and works to advocate on relevant and changing issues within the museum community. on issues of concern to the museum community.
This is the only organization representing the entire scope of museums and professionals and non-paid staff who work for and with museums. More than 25,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers are represented including 4,000 institutions and 150 corporate members. Individual members span the range of occupations in museums, including directors, curators, registrars, educators, exhibit designers, public relations officers, development officers, security managers, trustees and volunteers.
There are a few different kinds of membership packages, but LIS students can join for a $50 annual fee. Because this organization is a pillar in the museum world, involvement in it shows a serious commitment to museums and museum studies. New York is an amazing place for the exposure to museums and joining can help engage students with the libraries around them. This also includes applications for fellowships, which is a very competitive program for museums. By having a link to AAM, it could give students an advantage in their application process.
The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is a non-profit association for state and local history. Their goal is to help foster a passion and educational basis for history professionals, history volunteers, museums, historical societies, and other history-related organizations and public history professionals. AASLH was founded in 1964 in Nashville, TN. However, it reaches far and wide with about 6,000 members all over the country. This is the only comprehensive national organization dedicated to state and local history. Being a part of this specific community is a great way to get involved with local historical societies—whether it be in their libraries or archives.
One of their biggest initiatives is "StEPs". This is the Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations. It helps small- and mid-sized history museums, historic sites and houses, including all-volunteer ones, assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future. The also offer awards for outstanding achievements in organization, preservation, conservation, and innovation in the field. This mid-sized organization has a lot of room to grow and welcomes members from all backgrounds and career goals.
The New England Museum Alliance is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year! Founded in 1918, NEMA's mission statement is centered around inspiring and connecting people who want to become engaged with the museum field while providing quality tools for innovative leadership, and empowers museums to sustain themselves as essential to their communities. NEMA feels that museums are a vital part of society and play a role not only in educating the public, but as a testament to human history in and of themselves. They accomplish their work by aspiring to professionalism and excellence in all aspects of the organization. Their vision is: every museum matters, every visitor matters. If working with the public in a hands-on way within museums is of interest, this is one of the best organizations for working with visitors through outreach.
The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, INC. (ART) is a non-profit organization representing more than 400 archivists, librarians, and record managers in the NYC area. Between the months of September and June, ART holds monthly meetings discussing current events and issues in the field, as well as educational visits to repositories in Westchester County, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The Society of American Archivists was founded in 1936 and is the oldest and largest archivist association in North America. This organization is key to students who are aspiring archivists. SAA serves the educational and informational needs of more than 5,000 individual and institutional members. They are known for their publication, the American Archivist, as well as setting archival standards in the field. SAA has a lasting relationship with the Library of Congress. Together, they developed encoded archival description—a staple in archival description processes. Through archives classes at Pratt, students will read articles from SAA and their value will become very relevant and apparent.
SAA supports its members and the archival profession through strong publication and professional workshop programs and semi-annual meetings. The publication program is responsible for putting out a semi-annual refereed scholarly journal, and many books and manuals addressing aspects of the archival profession. Workshops are widely attended are curated to address archival concerns and issues, both involving digital and analog standards and best practices in the field.
Along with the American Library Association, the Society of American Archivists is truly a pillar of the information profession. Pratt has student chapters in both of these organization, as evidence above, but I want to stress the value of membership in both of these. Obviously, if students gain an interest in archives, this is the most important organization to join.
***Fun fact: In 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as an honorary member of the SAA due to his commitment to archiving federal, state and local government documents.
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is a nonprofit international association dedicated to the preservation and use of moving image media. They support public and professional education by fostering cooperation and communication among the individuals and organizations concerned with the acquisition, preservation, description, exhibition, and use of moving image materials. Their vision is for "moving image archivists worldwide shall have the support, the protection, the education, the information, the funding, and the resources necessary to properly and effectively preserve and make accessible the world’s moving image heritage for current and future generations."
Their headquarters is located in Hollywood, California and deeply tied to the film industry there. They offer scholarships and fellowships, which enhances hands-on work with film conservation and preservation. In context with Pratt, there are courses in digital archiving, projects in conservation and preservation, along with film studies in relation to the information science field.
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, founded in 1876. The longstanding mission of ALA is to "provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all." As you can imagine, ALA covers a lot of ground. They have departments for every diverse interest relating to issues in the current world information professions. Some of these include: advocacy, legislation, and issues; awards, grants and scholarships; conferences and events; education and careers; and tools, publications and resources—just to name the highlights.
As an MLIS student, it is important to familiarize yourself with ALA rules and guidelines, as it will be a constants thread in your work as an information specialist. Becoming involved in the organization is an excellent way to network and get a true sense of what a career in the information world will be like. Getting involved with a prestigious and well-connected organization can only help to guide students through their graduate school journey. There are many organizations and opportunities in information studies and ALA is far-reaching among all of them.
The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) is a non-profit organization whose goal is to foster relationships and collaborations with New York's libraries and archives. They work with members to develop and maintain essential services throughout New York City and Westchester County. All of METRO’s services are developed and delivered with broad input and support from an experienced staff of library professionals, the organization’s membership, an active board of trustees, and advisory councils. METRO is the largest of nine reference and research resource councils, known as the Empire State Library Network in New York State.
METRO consistently posts new job listings that are relevant to LIS students. These include part time work as well as internships, so a student could take advantage of an opportunity to add to your resume and get hands-on work experience while still in school.
The Art Libraries of North American was founded in 1972 at the American Library Association conference. Prior to this, many art libraries weren't in active communication with each other and sought to independently build their own collections without regard for duplication or collaborative efforts. Now, ARLIS has over 1,000 members and includes architecture and art librarians, artists, curators, students, educators, galleries, and visual resource and electronic specialists, to name a few. The student fee is $50 annually and limited to three years. This is the strongest organization for art libraries and if you are interested in working within an art institution, this is a crucial organization to be a part of.
Many art museums and galleries have an internal library system, and being a part of ARLIS is a way to set you apart from competition when searching for internships or jobs. It shows a commitment and seriousness to the field, which doesn't go unnoticed by potential employers who are most likely a part of ARLIS. They offer career resources and learning portals to every member. There are opportunities to be a part of their publications and to earn scholarships and awards.
There are branches of ARLIS worldwide, so if working internationally is an option for you, this could be a great way to get ahead and move abroad to work in renowned art libraries around the world.