This post is part of our short series of interviews with people who volunteer in the GLAMR industry (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records). The series began with our participation in #blogjune, but there are too many splendid volunteers, places and stories to restrict them to just one month!
These stories will highlight the wide range of volunteering opportunities across Canberra, and showcase our local volunteer heroes. You can also find out how to volunteer!
Our eleventh interviewee is Aileen Weir, who volunteers as a board member with ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association).
Tell us about you and your ALIA Board volunteer role…
I can’t think of a time in my career when I wasn’t involved with professional associations and I have never regretted it. Working on ALIA committees is a great way to network with people you wouldn’t normally encounter and the contacts you make can be invaluable for your own career progression. Helping to plan conferences, seminars or other events is a terrific way to develop your skills. Approaching potential sponsors and speakers, planning a budget or perhaps chairing a panel session on the day, all require skills you may not have the opportunity to exercise in your day job. Over the years, I have been on numerous committees and, in addition to what I gained professionally, have made many friends.
What are the benefits of volunteering on the ALIA Board?
It is a real privilege to be a member of the ALIA Board and I remain indebted to former President, Vanessa Little, for encouraging me to take on this role. I am now in my fourth year and have learned a great deal about the challenges facing our profession and the excellent work done by many people across the country to promote our skills and advocate on the issues that matter. As a Board member, I have an opportunity to contribute on a strategic level and help shape the Association’s priorities and advocacy agenda. I believe strongly in the values of ALIA – equity of access to information, preservation of the human record – and am proud of the many activities the Association undertakes to promote them. Volunteering in any capacity is worthwhile, whether through the Board, our many useful and important Advisory committees, or one of our Groups at the local level.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your volunteer role? How does your current role differ from your previous ALIA volunteer roles?
[Editor’s note: Aileen has previously convened ALIA Universities and Research Libraries Group (URLs) and the Australian Law Librarians Group (ALLA ACT)]
It is hard to pin down what I find most enjoyable. I have always felt a strong responsibility to give back to the profession that has supported me throughout my career. I certainly have great respect, admiration and, in many cases, friendship for the colleagues I have worked with over the years. Colleagues you meet through association work can be great informal mentors as they are one step removed from your work environment, but familiar enough with what you do to offer advice. I know that volunteering has extended my own skills and helped position me for leadership roles in my career. As an employer, I always look twice at someone who is an active ALIA volunteer – to me it demonstrates initiative, commitment, leadership qualities, and professional pride.
How do people express interest to volunteer with ALIA?
There are many ways you can get involved. There are numerous groups and advisory committees you can join, all listed on the ALIA website, as is information about running for the Board. Talking to anyone you know who is already involved with ALIA is a great way to indicate your interest. Another way is to contact Diana Richards, the ACT/NSW State Manager. Diana would be happy to tell you which groups are active in the ACT or explain other ways that you can get involved.
Many people encouraged me along the way so, if someone taps you on the shoulder and suggests you get involved, I strongly recommend you do it! Like most things in life, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it!
If you’re based in Canberra and would like to find out about events run by our local ALIA groups (including URLs ACT, but also ACTive ALIA, ALIA APSIG and ALIA OPALS ACT), please see the ALIA in the ACT webpage.
Also, remember to sign up for the FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) and ALIA Weekly newsletters. They are a great way to learn about ALIA activities and campaigns, such as the recent terrific (and delicious) Cooking for Copyright campaign.