If you’re like me, you’ve often asked yourself, “Why should I join another organization? What’s in it for me?”
There are many choices out there, from organizations at the local and state level, to groups based on a specific area of interest or job title. Even if time or money determines which organizations you should join, AASLH should still be at the top of your list.
AASLH membership has plenty of benefits:
- Programs – AASLH has programs and affinity groups on historic house administration, military history, and presidential sites and libraries. The Small Museums group focuses on the specific challenges of small museums with limited resources. You can join a museum listserv to get specific answers to questions from other colleagues. And there’s information for educators and interpreters, too.
- Professional development – You can attend workshops that cover a variety of topics online and onsite. Or you can listen to a free webinar or podcast on the AASLH website. There are programs for mentoring, project management, leadership development, as well as the Annual Meeting of the membership.
- StEPS – The Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPS) is a voluntary assessment program created by AASLH for small- and mid-sized history organizations. StEPS can help your organization fine tune its policies and practices by using assessment questions and performance indicators. StEPS is self-paced and a great first-step towards accreditation.
- Newsletters, magazines and technical leaflets – Your membership gets you a quarterly full-color magazine, History News, and a monthly newsletter, Dispatch. You can also download and purchase technical leaflets. These basic “how-to” guides (also available in each issue of History News) offer solutions to all kinds of challenges museums face: from fundraising and marketing, to interpretation and collections management.
- Discounts – Your membership can save you money through free memberships; discounts on software programs, books, workshops and meetings; and scholarship opportunities.
- Networking – Meeting other history professionals is one of the biggest benefits of membership. You can exchange ideas, share successes and challenges, collaborate on projects, and grow as a history professional.
AASLH’s main website offers even more membership perks, including job postings, national news, advocacy opportunities and more.
Membership in many organizations can be a good thing, but when you look at everything AASLH has to offer, there truly is something for everyone.
Tori Mason, a winner of the Small Museums Committee’s 2013 scholarship, is currently the Croft House Manager at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, a ca. 1810 historic house museum. She enjoys the challenge of wearing multiple hats, including those of collections manager, grant writer, interpreter and program developer.