Staying Abreast

Submitted by Brenda Bailey-Hainer, ATLA Executive Director

Like the elephant in the parable of the blind men and an elephant, ATLA can be viewed through many different lenses. We are a professional membership association, an organization that serves academic libraries, a library consortium, an active participant in scholarly communication in religion and theology, an open access publisher, a nonprofit organization, and a technology organization that produces online research tools. As such, we need to stay abreast of trends in a diverse set of fields — everything from technology standards to academic librarianship to the field of religion and theology to nonprofit management.

To stay up to date in these wide-ranging areas, ATLA relies on memberships in various associations and organizations to keep us apprised. Some of these memberships also allow us to have a voice in decision making or receive benefits that may be transferable to our own members. To give you a flavor of the complexity of ATLA’s activities, operations, and interests, I’ve outlined a list of our memberships below.

ALA (American Library Association) is a professional membership organization for librarians of all types, which is focused on the development, promotion, and improvement of libraries and the profession. An affiliate membership in ALA gives ATLA an opportunity to reserve meeting space and present programs during the ALA Midwinter and Annual conferences each year as well as networking opportunities with other affiliate organizations.

Association Forum is focused on the professional practice of association management for those located in the Chicago area. This organization provides networking and professional development opportunities for staff along with comparative data across associations in all fields.

ATS (The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada) is a membership organization of more than 270 graduate schools that offer degrees to educate persons for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines. The Commission on Accrediting of ATS accredits the schools and approves the degree programs they offer. The majority of ATLA member libraries are located at schools accredited by ATS.

CNI (Coalition for Networked Information) is a nonprofit organization that supports the use of digital information technology to advance scholarly communication, particularly in academic libraries.

CrossRef is a nonprofit membership organization whose purpose is to make scholarly communications better by registering the metadata for content and linking it to that of other members in their references.

HR Source (formerly HR Management Association of Illinois) offers training, consulting services, and benchmarking data for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations in Illinois.

ICOLC (International Coalition of Library Consortia) is an informal group of library consortia worldwide which facilitates discussion on issues of common interest. ATLA benefits by learning new models for group purchases, new products, and improvements in managing groups of libraries.

In Trust (In Trust Center for Theological Schools) is committed to developing leaders at theological schools, including board members, administrators, faculty, staff, collaborative nonprofit professionals, and others. ATLA belongs so that we keep abreast of trends in seminaries and divinity schools that impact our member libraries and librarians. It also allows us to help educate boards about the importance of libraries in theological education.

Library Publishing Coalition is made up of academic and research libraries and library consortia engaged in scholarly publishing. Through the Coalition, ATLA learns of best practices in library publishing and open scholarship.

NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services) is a nonprofit organization for those involved in the creation, aggregation, access, and management of information resources. The members of NFAIS include a cross-section of database creators, publishers, information technology developers, and content management providers. ATLA staff have chaired committees and served on the board.

NISO, the National Standards Information Organization, is a nonprofit that identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards relevant to the information industry. ATLA is a voting member, which gives us a voice in standards that are relevant to our work as a database producer and also to our members as consumers of information. ATLA staff have served on committees and working groups as well as on the board.

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is dedicated to enabling the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials in order to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the return on our investment in research and education.

UKSG is an international entity that connects the organizations that are involved in scholarly communication and supports the discussion and progression of issues in the field. Attending the annual conference gives ATLA staff exposure to the global information industry and advances in scholarly communication worldwide.

In cases where organizational membership is not accepted or for which it is not practical or cost-effective for ATLA to join, staff members maintain key memberships. This includes AAR (American Academy of Religion), ASAE (American Society of Association Executives), Force11, and SBL (Society of Biblical Literature).

ATLA is an organization that is active in many different aspects of libraries, scholarly communication, and the information industry. Taking advantage of the networking and professional development opportunities of a diverse array of nonprofit organizations allows us to stay current and in turn use that information to provide better programs and services to our members. That’s what staying abreast is all about.

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