Thursday, October 7, 2010

Crossing Borders; Building Bridges

Over the last several years I've been casting a wider net to accomplish my work and advance NELLCO. Even though we're a non-profit organization, running NELLCO is akin to running a small business. And with a staff of just 2, I wear many hats. I'm the CEO, the director of marketing, cat herder, counsel, the head of HR, cheerleader, CIO and head of IT, communications director, problem solver, director of programs, procurement officer, CFO and chief cook and bottle washer! Each role requires at least a basic skill set, and lots of outside support, to get the job done. So while my content focus is on how law libraries can collaborate and cooperate to maximize resources, I draw from many different sectors to support that goal. I want to share just a few of the great, and perhaps unexpected, connections I've made. I am so grateful to my colleagues in each of these spheres and can't emphasize enough the value of crossing borders to build bridges!

LIBRARY LAND

Obviously, next to the NELLCO membership itself, AALL is my go to resource for what's happening in law libraries. Programming at the Annual Meeting and the networking opportunities there, Spectrum, newsletters and list-servs from AALL meet most of my needs in that regard. I also contribute to AALL through my membership, my time serving on committees (currently copyright), serving on programs, writing occasional articles or book reviews, sharing information via social media, etc.

Then I take a step back and keep an eye on ALA and what the trends are in the wider library world. I occasionally attend their meetings and programs and most recently was a presenter for an ALA preconference workshop entitiled Taming the Licensing Tiger at the 2010 Annual Meeting. ALA may turn this program into a webinar, in which case it will continue to provide value. I read ALA publications regularly, follow them on social media, and subscribe to various lists.

CONSORTIUM COUNTRY

The next aspect of NELLCO's identity is as a consortium. From Dictionary.com, here's the legal definition of a consortium: an agreement, combination, or group (as of companies) formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member. There are a few key groups I rely on to help me here. The first is the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). Yes, this is a consortium of consortia. It's amazing the high level at which this group functions without any infrastructure whatsoever! There are no dues, no elected officers, no bylaws. Just a collegial group of consortium professionals committed to sharing their expertise. Through the meetings and the list-serv of ICOLC I get a good view of how libraries of all stripes across the globe are working in concert.

Moving from the narrow realm of library collaboration to the broader realm of higher education, the Association for Consortium Leadership (ACL) provides more fodder. ACL members include the leaders of higher ed consortia and centers across the country. Some of them include their libraries as part of their collaborative mission and some don't, but the underlying work is the same nonetheless. I've attended their Annual Meeting for a number of years and never walk away without new and relevant ideas that will serve NELLCO. And I have the opportunity to keep libraries on their radars and in the conversation.

ASSOCIATION ACRES

In addition to serving law library members as a consortium, NELLCO is also an association. And of course, associations have an association of their own! The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) serves the needs that are unique to associations. Its members are a vastly heterogeneous mix. ASAE offers a completely different and important perspective to NELLCO's arsenal; the business perspective. The other groups I've mentioned in this post are all rooted in academia. Not so for ASAE, they're rooted in the business of running an association. They offer excellent resources, including books, webinars, tools, programming at their Annual Meeting, and networking and mentoring opportunities. As I mentioned in the Slice last month I was able to attend their Annual Meeting for the first time this year thanks to a scholarship I received and I was blown away by the quality of the meeting and the ideas I came away with thanks to the exceptional expertise among their membership.

My point in sharing this is to encourage you to cross borders into other arenas. Think of other groups or professions that might be complementary, or that might share in some aspect of your daily work. Think about spheres where innovative things are happening. Find out if your hunch is right by checking out their membership lists, browing their websites, and following their social media presence. Then start building bridges. Good luck!

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