Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 72 – Associations: Benefit or Not

In this issue we will look at:

• Where do you go to find information?
• Associations
• Are there benefits from joining your association?

Where do you go to find information?
As we mentioned in the introduction, working in the Information Industry gives us a head start over everyone else (IMHO). We don’t have to rely on Google and hope we find all the information we need to make an informed decision, we know where we need to go, or have a good idea at least. And if all else fails we can ask our colleagues through many of the list servs that help us to share information and knowledge. Why struggle to find information when you have access to so many subject experts. Which is why I am a member of all the list servs and discussion groups. Some of the topics aren’t relevant to my needs, but most of them are, and is a great way of shortening the information gathering process.

If you aren’t a member, and would like to join – here are a few sites for you.

• To join the RMAA list serv you will need to go to the RMAA web site

• The Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA) have a number of different listservs you can become a member of. Go to the groups section and see which of the many groups you would like to join. 

• The Australian Society of Archivists –

• And of course for those in Western Australia we have the West Australian Information Network (WAIN) send an email to  –

And then of course there are the Associations. Is it worth you while being on the inner circle of these groups? Does being a member give you access to more information or do you get similar benefits from sitting on the fringes?

Are there benefits from joining your association?

Apart from being able to have some more letters to add to your name and business cards that is?
As with all things it depends on your personal opinion as to whether it is worth spending the several hundred dollars each year to be part of the association that underpins your particular branch of the profession. However, there are some things to consider if you are not yet a member.
1. Tax breaks: 
Memberships to professional associations can be claimed back in your annual tax return. 

2. Training: 
There is usually some kind of discount for training courses and events to people who have membership to an organisation. This will vary from association to association and training provider. But if you go to a few events / courses each year you do get it at a cheaper rate. And if you pay for the event yourself, you can claim the discounted rate back as part of your tax return each year.

3. Professional Development: 
If you want to receive formal recognition for your commitment to training, then you can do so by joining the association’s professional development program. Each course or event you attend provides you with “hours” which can be counted. Those people in the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) can then add the post nominals of CP (Certified Practitioner) and be eligible to become an Associate Fellow of the Association. 

4. Journals: 
Members receive the association’s own journal as part of the subscription cost. And it’s interesting to note you can claim reading professional journals as part of your CPD Hours. A double bonus.

5. Networking: 
Of course you don’t have to be a member of the association to enjoy the benefit of attending training courses and events, nor do you have to spout your post nominals when you attend many of the networking events. All you have to do is turn up and start interacting with people to gain the benefit of going. There are many professional association members who volunteer their time and expertise to the rest of the information community by joining the many organising committees, speaking at events, or managing the list servs. Again you don’t have to be a member of the association to be part of a committee, nor do you have to be a committee member to be a member of the association. That part is entirely up to you as to whether you feel you have the time to do so.

6. Qualifications: 
Being a professional member of an Association usually means you have some form of qualification within the industry. Being a professional member of the Association means an acknowledgement of status of qualification. 

7. Job Applications: 
Have you ever read a job advertisement where it asks you to be eligible for membership to a professional association. It doesn’t mean you have to be a member, just be eligible. 

8. Access to additional information: 
One of the biggest benefits (IMHO) of being part of the various associations is the fact that you get access to additional information – usually via membership login to the websites. These hidden pages contain a wealth of information that is simply not available in the public domain. Of course it could be argued that this information should be available to everyone – but then what would be the point of joining the association?

9. Member Benefits: 
Some of the Associations have negotiated a number of deals with service providers. You can receive discounts on a range of products and services by being a member of the Association. Of course it is up to you whether you use these or not, but they are there if you are interested.