Well I’ve decided to join ALIA, the Australian Library and Information Association. This is Australia’s answer to the ALA. I never joined the ALA, but am a member of AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) and was once a member of the SLA (Special Libraries Association).
Why would I spend my limited funds on something like this? The pragmatic reason is that this will help me in my transition from being an American librarian to an Australian one. It’s very strange – although I went to library school in Australia, over 99% of my work experience as a librarian comes from my time in the USA. This is why right now I feel that I am an American librarian rather than Australian – insofar as there are differences in the profession between Australia and the US.
I can put my ALIA membership on my resumé. It may open doors for networking :P and give me a chance to learn some useful information about the profession here.
There is an idealistic reason too. Although professional associations can be ineffectual and usually fail to live up to their potential, I really think that we need them and have to try to make them work. For example, somebody needs to convince the Australian people – and particularly the Senate – that the Australia-US free trade agreement would have a disastrous effect on their rights as information consumers (see Kim Weatherall's post about this). The best A-list blogger could only have a minor role in this debate. There is no substitute for the experience and collective legitimacy which a good professional association could bring to this issue.
I don’t yet know how effective ALIA might be as an organization. Well, even if they roll over on the FTA issue, I can be consoled that at least their website supports RSS :)