As a former ALA student chapter Secretary and President, I thought I'd last longer than most Gen-X libs I know. But, alas, three years was the maximum time I could actually stomach being a member. I'm sure there's a few more traditional librarians reading this, gasping for air at the huge sucking sound created by yet another Gen-X librarian bailing on the mothership.
I guess part of it is the over-politicizing of conferences, with the professional organization trying to adopt more and more political stances on everything from the U.S. embargo of Cuba to the Iraq War. While I agree with some of the more progressive ideas espoused, ALA's political showmanship has all the impact of the fucking Girl Scouts speaking out on certain national and international foreign policies. Actually, the Girl Scouts probably have more clout...at least they sell cookies.
Additionally, the technophobic and anti-Google rhetoric is a turn-off. How can some members of a professional organization dedicated to the equal access of information have such opposition to the use of ICT? Is it ego? Information Science penis-envy?
Anyway, here are my other reasons for jumping ship on the American Library Association:
1. I don't feel ALA represents information professionals equally across the board. In recent decades, the Society of American Archivists, the American Society of Information Science and Technology, the Special Library Association, and others have gained numerous members at the expense of ALA. While the information professional community refocuses itself in anticipation of major shifts and rifts in the 21st century, ALA holds onto its frigging READ campaign for dear life. Its focus remains - and will remain - book-centric for decades. The focus should be on universal information access and media-independence.
2. Eventually, there will be a major shift in the international information marketplace, and ALA is totally unprepared for it.
3. The internal power struggles between factions drives me nuts. Academic -vs.- public-vs.- special librarians? Who really gives a shit, really? Most of the time, the differences end up being minor and territorial, which misses the big picture. I'm not concerned with preserving some librarian caste-system. I'm interested in maintaining collections and making them available to users across the board.
4. The ALA has no tangible power to control the quality of librarian and staff education, training, professional practices, etc. There are no enforceable standards for professional ethics to ensure that librarians are actually doing their jobs and abiding by the ALA Code of Ethics or the Library Bill of Rights.
5. I believe that we need an allied information professional organization, an international standards organization that incorporates all aspects of the Information Age from around the globe. Why have an ALA or British Library Association when one could just as easily create the United Nations of information access?
So, to the American Library Association --
"Nice knowing you, but I think we need to see other people. Its not you...it's me, really."