by Kathy Kelly, DC/SLA Volunteer Coordinator
In Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2000), public policy professor Robert D. Putnam argued that American now have declining access to “social capital” due to a growing disconnect from family, friends, neighbors, and social structures. An appendix on “The Rise and Fall of Civic and Professional Associations” features a table and graphs illustrating membership growth rates, plateau rates, and the percentage of decline in membership rates for select associations from peak years to 1997.
I noticed no library associations were listed among the professional associations selected for inclusion in this appendix, but recalled that SLA has its own Loyalty Project to address issues similar to those raised in this book. Indeed, our large, diverse, and active DC/SLA chapter is one of several chapters which have been engaged participants in this Loyalty Project. The information gained and lessons learned on the components and benefits of loyalty by chapters is now being shared across the whole Association.
How fortunate we are that the information professionals in our chapter have such a rich variety of options for volunteering, as a way to stay connected with each other and to sustain our social/professional capital in our field.
Check out our Committees and Groups page, to see where you might be able to get involved. If you only want to get your feet wet, please note that some opportunities involve only limited activity related to supporting specific events. Other opportunities may involve more ongoing efforts related to programming, communications strategy, community relations, or special initiatives such as the chapter’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 2015. Still others involve support of periodic activities of the chapter in general, such as work on awards, student scholarships, and nominations for Board positions. There are also committees which are ripe for revitalization efforts, such as the Make a Connection program.
Please contact a committee chair listed on a committee page of interest, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ask a question or let us know how you’d like to get involved in an area of interest. And as your professional network grows, watch your social capital multiply.