By Eve Ross, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina School of Law
The former Gen X / Gen Y Caucus officially became the Professional Engagement, Growth, and Advancement Special Interest Section in January 2014. Anyone who heard about the phenomenal pre-2014 Gen X / Gen Y parties (which have since been renamed PEGA parties) might think we’re barrels of fun. And we are. But PEGA-SIS is much more than a fabulous new acronym for an annual bash. Our name and SIS status reflect a year-round role that we’re very serious about.
Membership in PEGA-SIS is not limited to any particular generation or to any one career stage. Professional engagement and growth are career-long, and hopefully lifelong. Opportunities for outwardly visible advancement may appear right away, or they may not. There may be plateaus and lateral moves, as well as setbacks of various kinds. The time for advancement is whenever the conditions are right, which might happen at any point in a career. Ongoing commitment to engaging and growing professionally helps to establish conditions conducive to advancement. Library directors know that better than anyone.
Library directors want their librarians to develop professionally. In many cases, it’s an express part of a director’s job to facilitate professional development (or should we say, professional engagement, growth, and advancement). So why should a director with a limited budget spend $20 supporting a librarian’s PEGA-SIS membership? Here’s the value proposition:
PEGA-SIS is new (since 2014). That means we don’t have a long queue of members who have spent years earning their stripes to work their way up to SIS leadership. There are many volunteer roles and even key SIS leadership positions that a brand-new member of PEGA could potentially step into within their first year or two. We’re working on a revamped website, as well as some educational offerings, in addition to our usual marketing and event planning. Where an institution rewards librarians who participate actively in leadership of professional organizations, but where there aren’t many opportunities for newer librarians to obtain such roles anytime soon, involvement with PEGA offers real career impact.
PEGA-SIS is small (119 members as of January 2017). That means we can get to know each other and support each other in ways that a larger group simply can’t. Directors want their librarians to feel deeply connected to the profession. So it helps that interaction with PEGA isn’t just emails and surveys and emailed surveys. We meet in person at the annual meeting, both at the PEGA party and at Beer and Edits (an informal meetup for conversations about what we might like to write or co-author). We stay in touch on social media throughout the year, seeing each other’s pet photos, answering questions about the next year’s conference, and so on. When one of us receives an award or is published in an AALL publication, the crowd goes wild with favorites and retweets and congratulatory comments.
PEGA-SIS is a gateway to all that AALL offers. Directors are pulled in many different directions during the Annual Meeting, with educational sessions, vendor meetings, leadership responsibilities, and so on. Most directors have well-established professional relationships dating back many years that are refreshed annually by face-time at the Annual Meeting. And on top of all that, they’d like to make sure their librarians are receiving the warmest possible welcome and are being guided to fruitful uses of their time at the conference. Since the laws of physics preclude being in more than one place at the same time, directors may be glad to know that PEGA-SIS is made up of law librarians who thrive on meeting those they haven’t yet met, connecting them to each other, and steering them to AALL opportunities relevant to their interests.
To sum up, the whole point of a membership in a professional organization is to engage, grow, and advance professionally. So it only makes sense to encourage librarians to join the SIS that helps them do just that.