During the week I attended my local ALIA National Advisory Congress meeting, which I really enjoyed. So I'm going to get all evangelistic about involvement here.
There were very few people there. Considering the size of a city like Sydney, we had all of 9 people. I know all the reasons why people don't go (and I was very tempted myself just to go home and skip the whole thing), but given that many more people don't go than go, it seems to me that it's the reasons to go that are the rarer species.
So why bother? First up, ALIA is a member organisation. That's not lip service - as an ALIA member I have influence over what the association does. I've run events and attended other events run by those that were able and willing to get involved, and it's not because some paid member of the ALIA staff arranged these events - it's because of volunteers like myself.
The other thing - how much do you know about me? Do you know what I want from my association? Do you know how I would respond to questions posed by the ALIA Board? More importantly, do you agree with me? If you're not able to say yes to all those questions, then how comfortable are you with the idea that I'm there representing hundreds of other members? I'm not representing anyone other than myself in an official capacity, of course, but the fact is that in these kind of situations, the vocal become defacto representatives of the silent. I should only be one voice, one member, but there I was representing one ninth of Sydney members. That's ridiculous! For those that don't come to the NACs because they can't be bothered - stop it! Stop making me represent you! I have no idea what you want and I don't want to speak for you!
(Please note - I have many friends who were not able to attend for darn good reasons, and I'm not saying that everyone should bend heaven and earth to attend. But let's face it, there are plenty of people who don't go to these things because they don't see any reason why they should, and I'm trying to present a reason)
I have no patience for those that say ALIA doesn't do what they want or doesn't represent them. I'm not ALIA's biggest fan, and I'm well acquainted with it's faults - in fact I suspect there are staff at National Office that groan when they see my name, because I'm probably complaining about something AGAIN - but it occurs to me that if ALIA isn't relevant to me, I have the power to change that. So does everyone else.
If you didn't make it to the NAC, and you're an ALIA member, you can still comment on the discussions by viewing the relevant papers here Go on! Stop letting me speak for you!