One of the many nuggets of useful information I received at new student orientation in July 2010 was the way the LISSA officers kept reminding us of the fact that each GSLIS student receives an allotted amount of money for professional development each year. As long as you fall within the yearly limit, LISSA will reimburse 75% of the cost of any professional development-related activity. What really stood out to me however, was the fact that the LISSA officers stressed how few people took advantage of this opportunity each year. To which I say, GSLIS community, what gives?!
The LISSA reimbursement is the ideal tool for the broke graduate student hungry for professional development (which unfortunately costs money). While I don’t want to comment on the specific rules for reimbursement, I do want to illustrate how the reimbursement has enriched me on a personal level.
Last year, as an eager new GSLIS student, I duly signed up for ALA membership, and joined the two associations most relevant to my chosen path: AASL (the American Association of School Librarians) and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). ALA membership isn’t the priciest thing out there, but it can definitely put a dent in a limited budget. LISSA came to the rescue, refunding me 75% of my membership costs. In return, I got an at-home subscription to the YALSA magazine and the ALA magazine, both filled with great information and articles, and tons of resources from AASL, including technology updates, hot links for education resources, and more.
This year, I have used my LISSA reimbursement in a different way. Through the generosity of the Simmons MSLA-SIG group (the student interest group for the Massachusetts School Library Association), Dean Knowles, and LISSA, I won a scholarship to attend the AASL conference in Minneapolis. Though the bulk of my costs were covered through the other sources, the fact that LISSA would reimburse 75% of my airfare made an enormous difference, because flights between Minneapolis and Boston aren’t exactly cheap. Thanks to LISSA’s reimbursement, what could be an exceptionally pricey and unaffordable experience suddenly became very possible, and for that, I am truly grateful.
So, if you haven’t yet taken advantage of the allotted money each GSLIS student is allowed to receive for reimbursement in a given year, find a professional development membership or activity that sparks your interest and sign up! I promise you won’t regret it.