It’s LITA’s 40th anniversary (as a division, not with the current name). There’s a section of LITA’s website devoted to the 40th anniversary celebration. (If you go there, and you look at the PowerPoint of pictures, be kind: I don’t always or even frequently photograph well.)
I was president of LITA in 1992/1993. That was part of six continuous years on the LITA Board (which, given ALA rules, is only possible if you’re elected Vice President/President-Elect in the third year of a Board term–unlike ALA Councillors, Division Board members can’t be re-elected), including four on the Executive Committee. I presided over the program honoring LITA’s 25th anniversary. (If you can do the math, you’ll see that it wasn’t LITA’s 25th, but I did the program.)
The first major award I ever won was the LITA/Library Hi Tech Communications Award (that’s not the full name, which is too long to repeat here), in 1995.
I edited the LITA Newsletter for almost ten years, more than half of its life as a print publication. That included the LITA Yearbook 1992, the one and only book-length issue of the LITA Newsletter (Actually, it was a supplement, and came out of the regular budget–I learned how to manipulate the newsletter budget to get more pages without more money, partly by doing the copy-editing and typesetting myself. The supplement was a 122-page paperback, and the d*nedest annual conference report LITA’s ever seen.)
Fact is, for a very long time I only joined ALA because you had to be an ALA member to join ISAD (LITA’s predecessor) and, later, LITA. LITA was where I met people, where I started writing and speaking within the library field, where I found a few hundred friends and acquaintances.
So I’m a LITA member for life. Right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
It bothered me when the LITA Newsletter disappeared–first moving from print to online publication and dwindling pretty rapidly after that. I nudged about it now and then. I heard encouraging words about steps LITA was taking. Meanwhile, I still have very little idea what interest groups will be discussing at Midwinter, even less idea what happened at Midwinter, and not much help to plan Annual either, except for the formal programs. The LITA blog helps a little, but I still feel somewhat alienated from my division.
It bothered me a lot when LITA increased its dues to $60, the highest in ALA–and, for the first time in my memory, did so without a membership vote. I’ve been asking here and there just what I’m getting for $60 a year…with relatively little response. LITA lost a fair number of members after that dues increase, but as with most sharp increases, the overall numbers apparently look good–but at the expense of a shrinking membership.
Now there’s an ALA dues increase, although at least we get to vote on this one: $30 a year, phased in over a three-year period. So I’d end up paying $190 a year. Plus, of course, increasing prices for conference registration.
I appreciate ALA’s lobbying efforts; I think the Washington Office generally does a fine, effective job. I appreciate American Libraries (even if I wasn’t a good fit as a columnist). I still enjoy Midwinter most years and Annual perhaps a little less; those are still the places I get to meet new colleagues and get in touch with some of my long-standing friends and acquaintances. And, once in a while, even learn something new. I don’t know about ALA-APA, but in any case I’m not a professional librarian, so it’s largely irrelevant.
So is the ALA-LITA combination worth $160 now and $190 in 2009? (OK, so when I retire some time later, the ALA portion of the dues goes down. Doesn’t it?) Am I really going to stick with LITA forever because of my past history with the division? Will I still be part of LITA for its 45th anniversary? (That’s the question in the title. It’s 15 years too late for me to make it to 45 in a more general sense.)
Damned if I know.