Tag Archives: sla

SLA Candidate question #4: How can SLA reach out more to members outside North America?

8 Aug

sla-logoThe candidate Q&A post for August is up over at the SLA website:

SLA is an international organization. How can SLA involve and reach out more to members outside North America?

This is one of the most important questions that SLA currently faces; our status as an international association sets us apart from many of our peer organizations, and allows us the opportunity to move forward and learn from one another in truly unique ways. We must, from our leadership on down, take advantage of these opportunities.

See the rest here.

DC/SLA Conference Recap recording is up

23 Jul

The recording of the DC Chapter of SLA’s Conference Recap event has been posted, including presentations from me and Tom Rink on our visions for SLA:

My speech starts at around the 2:00 mark. I’ve previously posted the text I was working from.

Please check out the whole thing! It was a great event.

Personal theme: Move forward

18 Jul

sla-logoIn preparation for our visit, the DC Chapter of SLA asked Tom and me to write posts about our personal theme. Those posts are now up, and mine can be found here.

I chose “Move Forward” as my personal theme, for reasons that are probably clear to anyone who read my last post. (I almost chose, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility,” but while I definitely believe that, “Move Forward” has a much stronger personal resonance. Again, that shouldn’t surprise anyone who read my last post.)

While I covered similar ground in the speech, I do feel this post stands well on its own. So please do check it out.

My vision for SLA

16 Jul

The following is the text from the speech I gave at the Washington, DC Chapter of SLA at their conference recap event on July 14, 2014. I was asked to speak about my vision for SLA and my impressions of the conference, and I confess that I focused more strongly on the former. The event was webcast and recorded, and I’ll post a link to that recording when it’s made available.

Thank you all for coming out tonight, and thank you to the DC Chapter for inviting Tom and me to speak with you this evening.

I’ve been asked to talk about my impressions of the annual conference in Vancouver, and my vision for SLA. To me the most amazing part of the SLA Conference in Vancouver was getting the opportunity to speak with so many SLA members from all over the world, from such a variety of information professions. We spoke at receptions, at open meetings, between sessions, at trivia night and at Military Division breakfasts. (Which were excellent!) I even tried to speak to some of you at Karaoke and the IT Dance Party, but it was a bit too loud.

I love these conversations, be they with past board members or first timers or the rank and file members who attend our conferences any year they can, because they always give me a bigger picture, a broader perspective on SLA. I came into my candidacy with the conviction that our Association needs to move forward, together, and the annual conference helped bring that into tighter focus.

Now, some of you have heard this story, or will read it on your chapter blog. But when I was in college, my grandfather — the original Jim DelRosso — would send me notes in the mail, usually with a bit of cash. (For some reason, he never wanted to reveal the latter to my parents, telling them that he was sending me “stamps.” This confused them, and made them even more upset that I never wrote home.)

Almost all of these notes were just short and heartfelt words of encouragement, the most common of which were simply, “Move forward.” That was also how he ended our phone calls, and he’d often say it to me when we were together, and talking about what I was working on in school, or my plans for the future: “Move forward.”

My grandfather passed, the notes became keepsakes, and the words have stayed with me ever since. To me, “Move Forward” means accomplishing something with each day, each month, each year, even if it’s not what you’d initially planned. It means not succumbing to complacency, nostalgia, or the fear of failure. It means doing your best to see things as they are, not as they were (or as you wished they would be) and then taking steps to make them better. Moving forward means leaving things better off than you found them, and doing right by those around you.

What “Move Forward” means for SLA is recognizing the challenges and opportunities that we currently face, and focusing our energy on meeting the needs of our members. It doesn’t mean ignoring the past; rather, moving forward means honestly acknowledging what has come before and taking steps to progress beyond it. Moving forward doesn’t imply an obsession with the future at the expense of the present, either; you need to know where you’re standing before you can take a step.

We need to move forward to engage the challenges of our profession as a whole, not just as individuals. We can’t rely on training our members to fight harder for ever smaller pieces of an ever shrinking pie. We have to grow our profession. Has anyone in this room added an information professional position to their organization in the last three years? You are the people I want to SLA put on a panel, so we can learn how you did that, and how we can replicate that achievement in our own organizations.

On a related note, we also need to move forward past the question of our relevance as a profession. I say this because when I look at user surveys and talk to my peers — at annual conference and elsewhere — what comes through again and again is that our relevance is never questioned by those who work with us on a daily basis, never by those whose lives we change. Be they students, faculty, lawyers, doctors, business people, citizens… they know our value. They never doubt it, never question it. Nor should we.

Unfortunately, all too often the people who recognize our value are not the same folks who control our funding. My vision of SLA is an organization that continues to teach its members how to turn our supporters into advocates to our funders.

We also need to move forward and acknowledge the challenges that new information professionals face, and look to make changes to so they can keep up their SLA memberships in their first years after leaving school, and attend our conferences during the most crucial time of their career. Those first few years look a lot different now than they did a decade ago, and we need to recognize that and look for ways to offer our support.

We need to move forward and listen to our members about questions of cost, and recognize that there’s a difference between being unwilling to invest in oneself, and unable to afford rising prices during tough economic times. We cannot price members out of our Association, let alone potential leaders. That was my priority when I altered my chapter’s reimbursement policy for the leaders who would come after me, and it’s still my priority today.

We must move forward as an organization that embraces our code of conduct, knowing that no anti-harassment policy has ever stifled discourse and engagement even the smallest fraction as much as harassment does.

We need to move forward as an SLA that knows its one true purpose is to support its members, to advocate for them and for their interests, whose actions are taken in the spirit and practice of transparency, and whose leaders listen to members even when the message is tough to hear.

We need to move forward, knowing that we will never be the SLA of 2006 again. But we move forward confident that together, we can make the SLA of 2016 something even better, and the SLA of 2026 something amazing to behold.

We’ve gotten to the part where I ask you to vote for me. I’ve had some people make it very clear to me, that I should end every conversation I have with a member by “sealing the deal”. But I’m not here to sell myself. I’m not a product, and neither are any of you. You’re people. You’re librarians and information professionals. That means you are powerful, and you are what makes SLA great. So regardless of who you decide to vote for, please vote this September, because the more engaged you are with SLA, the stronger SLA will be.

I’ve shared with you my vision for SLA. If you also share that vision, then yes: I will ask humbly that you consider giving me your vote for the office of President-Elect. I will also challenge you, all of you, all of us here today and all of you listening remotely, to step up in any way you can, and join me in helping the Special Libraries Association move forward.

Thank you.

SLA Candidate question #3: How has SLA helped me grow?

9 Jul

sla-logoThe candidate Q&A post for July is up over at the SLA website:

How has involvement with SLA over the years helped you grow professionally and personally?

My involvement with SLA has helped me to grow by giving me opportunities to broaden my experience beyond what my day to day work provided, and allowing me to view the world and the profession from new perspectives.

See the rest here.

SLA Vancouver post-game

23 Jun

I ran out of cards Monday night.

That’s one of the most tangible pieces of evidence of just how many members I got to talk to during the SLA annual Conference in Vancouver. New members and veterans, former leaders and up-and-comers, first-timers* and folks who’d been to every conference for decades. It was a tremendous, wonderful, and nigh-overwhelming experience, and I want to thank all the members who took the time to speak with me about their lives, their work, and their relationship with SLA.

Of course, the other tangible piece of evidence is the pile of other folks’ business cards that I came home with:

biz cards

I will friend you all, I swear.

As someone who’s putting myself forward as a potential leader of SLA, I don’t think there’s anything more important for me to do than listen to our members. As I’ve said before, we currently have an unprecedented amount of data on our members, and have gotten feedback from you all on so many important issues. It’s the responsibility of our leaders to listen well, and respond honestly, to your needs.

And honestly, I think we can do better. I think we need to do better. We need to answer concerns members have about the sale of the headquarters building. We need to provide better support to our conference planners. We need to be more transparent with the financial state of the Association. And we need to acknowledge that your concerns about the cost of the conference are not a question of your willingness to invest, but of your ability to do so.

These are all things that people spoke to me about in Vancouver. As a candidate for President-Elect, I was honored to hear them. I’ll do my best to make sure they get answered.

* Can I just say how much I love that SLA holds a dedicated event for first-timers? That’s something that more conferences should emulate.

SLA Candidate Question #2, and getting ready for Vancouver

5 Jun

First off, my answer to the second candidate question has been posted over at SLA.org:

What changes, if any, do we need to make to keep annual conference as a vibrant, well attended event?

A vibrant conference depends on attendance. In my experience, and judging by the findings of the recently released report on re-envisioning the conference, networking is the primary benefit our members see from attending Annual. That means our first priority is to make sure the annual conference is accessible to as many members as possible: the quality of networking and peer-to-peer learning is enhanced simply by bringing more of us together. We also need to make sure the programming we offer is unique and excellent.

Go ahead and check out the whole thing. This was a tough post to write: it’s really too big a question to answer in a single blog entry, and I still find myself thinking of new ideas. I’m not entirely sold on the notion of having Annual in the same place for 3-4 years in a row, for example, but what about choosing a city that’s solid in a lot of ways and just committing to it every three years? Philadelphia springs to mind, since my impression was that it had quality food and lodging across a range of prices very near the convention center, and it’s got an international air travel hub… but it’s definitely an idea that we’d need to explore more.*

Speaking of Annual, in less than 24 hours I’ll be on my way to Vancouver. How ready am I? This ready:

They've got stuff on both sides!

Actually, I’m feeling even readier than that. It’s going to be a packed schedule, because I’ll be going to every event I can in order to speak to as many folks as possible. But I’m truly excited about this: what I love about SLA is its members, and I’m hopefully going to get a chance to meet more of you than I ever have. Plus, get to talk to you about where SLA needs to go as we move forward as an organization.

I’m sure I’ll be exhausted by the time I head back, but hey: I can sleep on the plane. See you in Vancouver.


* My other idea — nothing but non-stop Dance Party and Karaoke in two adjacent rooms for 72 straight hours — probably has some downsides that I just haven’t seen yet.

SLA Candidate blog post #1: Why SLA?

16 May

My first candidate blog post is up on the SLA site!

When did you first join SLA? What made you decide to join then, and why do you still belong today?

For me, it always comes down to people. From the beginning, SLA’s appeal as an organization has been its members: you’re the people who make the SLA great through the work you do for the Association, for your institutions, and for the profession.

See the rest here.

I’m a candidate for President-Elect of SLA

10 Apr

sla-logoIt is with a combination of great excitement and great humility that I announce that I will be one of the candidates for the position of President-Elect of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

I am deeply honored to be considered for this role, and to stand among such an excellent slate of candidates for the SLA Board. I look forward to spending the coming weeks and months communicating with SLA members from around the world about their aspirations for the organization, and for themselves.

The full candidate list can be found here. And you can expect me to be talking about this more soon.

On my way to SLA, British rock ‘n’ roll edition

13 Jul

That song doesn’t have much to do with SLA that I can tell, but it’s been stuck in my head for days. Librarianship is about sharing.

In something absurd like 16 hours, I will be boarding the first of two planes whose travels shall, in theory, bring me to Chicago in time for the Special Library Association’s annual conference, expo, and generalized shindig. It’s gonna be a packed couple of days for me: at least two meals dedicated to BUSINESS, a board meeting, karaoke, and a four-hour continuing education workshop that I am apparently delivering.

Good news: it’s based on one that Amy Buckland and I have given at the last two Computers in Libraries conferences. Bad news: Amy can’t make it. I’m gonna be like Wings covering Abbey Road out there. Or, more accurately, like someone trying to remember not only the points that they’re used to making, but also the points that their very smart collaborator always made.

That being said, we’ve got over twenty folks signed up to hear about best practices in digital repositories, which seems to indicate that they’re not a lost cause quite yet. It’s frustrating to see so many repositories struggle, especially because so many of them seem struggle due to a lack of institutional or administrative commitment. Doing this stuff right requires people, and requires people who see the repository as another tool for the creation of digital collections and digital libraries… not just a box to throw faculty papers into. (Certainly not just a box we ask faculty to throw their papers into while we sit by and hope for the best, because c’mon people that’s not suddenly gonna work.)

The other thing I’m looking forward to is seeing all the folks whom I haven’t gotten a chance to hang out with since last year’s SLA, or maybe since CiL. Networking is really the part of the conference that shone for me last year, and after doing what I can to make sure people don’t feel like I wasted four hours of their Sunday morning, that’s what I’m gonna focus on until I hop a plane or two back here on Tuesday.

That and karaoke. Gonna bring some Rolling Stones this year, I think.


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