Note on this post: I wrote this after completing an application that asked me to list the professional organizations I was a member of. It frustrated me that although I'm active in several professional learning communities, they're informal and electronic. Not at all what the application was asking for. This annoyance and a little guilt prompted me to write the following:
I used to join every professional association I could. I belonged to divisions and sub divisions. I was on committees, went to conferences, networked and collaborated. I still network, I still collaborate and on occasion, I still go to conferences. But my methods have changed. This was due to several factors: cost, time & the addition of children to our family.
First the costs. There is no right answer to the cost-benefit analysis of belonging to a professional organization. When I was an active (in person) member, the dues made sense in my budget. The conference fees were reduced, I got the publications, I could vote and be elected to office. But given that the money was coming out of my pocket and I am now unable to attend conferences in person due to the a fore mentioned time crunch and children, membership's privileges no longer seem to outweigh the costs.
Second is the time. Depending on the location, conferences can require full days of travel time. This means hiring a sub for all of those days and being away from my kids who are three and five and right now. They need me more than I need to get on a plane and fly to a conference.
I didn't expect this. But technology has made it so easy. No, I don't get to attend all of the sessions. I'm missing out on the publisher parties and swag (not to mention the mini crabcakes). I'm not a mover and shaker in libraryland anymore. But I can follow sessions on Twitter & Youtube, read blog reports, preview books and more from the comfort of my livingroom.
There are still conferences that I don't want to miss, and exceptions to these reasons, but I wonder if more conferences will go virtual as it becomes easier to connect.
I may not be supporting as many professional associations financially, but right now, I'm doing the best I can.