Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

LIANZA Membership: What's in it for me? Oops, I mean "us'

By Immediate Past President Te Paea Taiuru

  • Should I pay my membership?
  • I feel like I don't benefit or get any value out of LIANZA
  • I stopped paying when they stopped mailing out Library Life each month 

A challenge we face as a member association is quantifying what each individual member gets from being part of a national network.  The best response is provided by our members, who are willing to share their highs, lows, and in-betweens.  

Adding to our collective body of knowledge, this is a snippet of what being a member of LIANZA, Te Rōpū Whakahau and IFLA means to me.  When I was younger, I struggled to find the value in being a member of an association but I was supported by my organisation at the time and my membership fee was paid.  This opened up new opportunities to connect with other like-minded information practitioners and gain a greater understanding of what we do, why we do what we do and how we can do things better.  

Being a member gave me a voice individually, and a collective voice when there were challenges in the community, the library and the job.  Being a member gave me opportunities to lead, develop and innovate, if that was something I chose to do.  Being a member gave me timely, quality information, and more importantly, the confidence to do things differently and do different things.  I could opt in and out of sector work, give as much or as little as I wanted to suit my own personal and professional circumstances, all the while supporting and being part of a sector that makes a difference for our diverse communities.

As someone passionate about the intergenerational transfer of wealth and knowledge, I feel a keen sense of community spirit and believe if I don’t back being a member of LIANZA, it is pointless to think anyone else would.  First and foremost, LIANZA is a member association.  It’s powered by its members and is influential both locally, nationally and internationally.  This is a credit to everyone past and present and paves a sustainable pathway for the future.

What does this mean for those who don’t want to / can’t afford to pay their membership fee?   I get it – sometimes we struggle to cover association membership fees (LIANZA, Te Rōpū Whakahau and IFLA). But I see the value in my professional organisation – because having a body that is keeping an overarching sector view so I can focus on libraries – is really valuable for me, my family and my community.

But I get why you might not feel you’re getting what you need from LIANZA -  and I think that is a conversation the sector needs to have.  However, it shouldn’t be focused on the question of whether each member as an individual should be paying their fees.  It should be focused on whether the profession needs LIANZA.  Is LIANZA something that the New Zealand based profession still want and need, or has it become an anachronism?    

As money gets tighter for everyone, individuals and organisations are choosing to reduce the amount they use to support LIANZA activities.  If this keeps up there won’t be the current level of support, activity and influence that LIANZA currently provides.  It may be a sign of the times, and LIANZA might need to dial back, dial down or dial out.  We know a collective voice is much stronger than a single voice, it’s one of the key reasons associations are formed.

So let’s paint a picture of what might happen if LIANZA changed:

  • Conference – yes, your employer might get a discounted attendance if you’re a member, but if there wasn’t LIANZA then your cross-sector conferencing options would all be overseas.   If you attended and enjoyed our conference in Christchurch this year and you want similar events in future, you need to support us with your membership.
  • Professional recognition, Associateships, Fellowships, Professional Registration?  Fees to apply for this don’t go anywhere near meeting the costs of delivering these awards/schemes.  If you want to continue to see this type of recognition for professionals which is held in high regard, by recipients, families, employers, and organisations (national and international), you need to support us with your membership.
  • Library Life – a vehicle where people get to share their valued experience, lessons learned, achievements and expertise. Also paid for by membership fees – yes, it’s electronic, but it is still an engaging and entertaining publication.   If you ever read this then you need to support us with your membership.
  • Are you working in one of the libraries where LIANZA has supported you and others facing similar challenges with advocacy, letters of support, networks and advice about job descriptions? LIANZA fields a request, every two weeks from an individual or library wanting support. If you think that this is a valuable service (that you might need one day) then you need to support us with your membership.
  • Have you seen a Kōtuku person deliver something of massive value to the profession, or thought about applying to the programme yourself?  If you value what this sector focussed opportunity is doing then you need to support us with your membership.
  • Do you like the Future of Libraries work we’re doing – especially our current focus on Workforce Development?  With the help of volunteers and dedicated office hours, we are working together and progressing this member initiated project to its current state.
  •  Being a member of LIANZA also gives you discounts at participating retailers, with a flash of your membership card.  We’ve had a lot of people email us letting us know how this has helped them make savings on everything from rental cars to laptops.

We’re by members for members. We started out small and have grown over the years. We know what it’s like to run everything on our own and the difference having a dedicated office team provides. Our operating model is best practice and we are always trying to find innovative ways to increase value to our members in challenging economic times. 

Together, we help and support our range of members to excel, and facilitate your best ideas into fruition.  Kōtuku, Future of Libraries, Awards, Scholarships, Grants, Conference, Regional Events, Association structure – these have all been member ideas.  If you have further ideas of value that we can do and other members support then let us know so we can make sure our value proposition works.   If you’re considering not renewing your membership because you believe LIANZA is no longer necessary, has no current value for you or something else, let us know that too – it’s an important distinction.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou ka ora ai tatou.  LIANZA powered by its members for its members, so our communities succeed.

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