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SLA Update

As many of you know I am president-elect of SLA. It’s an unusual year to be president-elect since this year lasts 18 months. (SLA voted to change their association year to match the calendar year). This is an unusual year given that we are a full Board for 18 months and the traditiponal cycles of the past may no longer apply. We will be challenged to understand this first time we have a new association year schedule. There will be some confusion but nothing insurmountable. Such things as nominations, committee appointments, reporting and the rest will all follow slightly different schedules.
However, after six months since officially joining the Board in June 2006, it is now still a full year before I take office as SLA President. I thought now would be a good time to update you about my recent chapter visits and other stuff related to SLA. Current president Rebecca Vargha’s 18 month strategy is focusing on membership growth and the 2009 SLA Centennial planning. All Board members are workikng hard on many initiatives. I do support these efforts since they are vital to encouraging the members and sustaining the success of SLA. There is a lot happening at the Board level and that gets reported to the Association leadership in Reno NV this month at the SLA Leadership Summit. Watch for reports on the website and in Information Outlook.
So far my SLA schedule since June has been quite hectic. Overall, I have given about 60 speeches at over 50 events. Not all of these are narrowly focused on just SLA but it is rare that I don’t meet many SLA members and I wear my SLA pin(s) with pride everywhere. I get many questions about our work and the Association. I either answer them myself or refer them to the appropriate staff members, colleagues or Rebecca. We even get new members! It’s an exciting time to be a special librarian and practicing information pro.
In July I visited the Wisconsin Chapter and met a wonderful team. I also got the opportunity to tour the library school there. The exec of that chapter was quite hospitable in my first visit to that state.
In August Rebecca, Janice and I (along with a coterie of SLA members) visited Korea for the IFLA conference. I’ve been attending IFLA for a few years and find the international perspective extremely valuable. I gave two invited papers/speeches in the main program on special library issues, hosted a small reception, attended the SLA China “chapter” reception with staff and a plethora of past SLA presidents, and talked with many international and North American members and potential members. We had great dinners and other meals with our other fellow US association staff and officials, other assoication executives, the Canadian Caucus and the SLA caucus. SLA will grow internationally in the coming years and it’s essental that we get a ground level understandinig of the needs and perspectives of these members and potential members.
In September I visited the Student Chapter at the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto. Since Joanne Gard Marshall and I helped make this chapter happen, it holds a special place in my heart. It’s my hometown school and I am an Alumnus. I really enjoy the student chapters and library school visits. I have tried to hit every Canadian library school annually and I suppose I’ll have visited 6 or 7 US schools this year. The students are truly amazing and are definitely our future. I taught two courses at U of Toronto FIS this Fall in Ottawa and Toronto. The classes were mostly taken by specialized information workers and librarians.
In September I also got a great chance to have lunch with the SLA Europe Chapter in London while I was there on other business. We had a nice chat and I learned lot. While in London, I got to do 3 library tours through member libraries. I also visited with some of Outsell’s European office staff.
October was a busy month where I spent 6 weeks on the road without seeing hearth and home. I hope to never do that again! I had a wonderful breakfast with the SLA New Zealand crew in Wellington NZ followed by a nice dinner with the SLA Australia crew in Sydney. Everyone was just lovely and there are opportunities for SLA to excel there, carefully. I look forward to seeing some of them again in Reno.
I visited with the SLA Hawaii Chapter for dinner and for a program the next day on Library 2.0. They were wonderful. It was especially fun to be bounced out of bed by a 6.7 earthquake and spend the day with no electricity! Trust our members to find the only open bar on Waikiki!
I visited a raft of members in Upstate New York at several events in a row and look forward to doing an all day workshop for SLA-UNY in 2007.
Of course, in October we had our weekend Board meeting at Internet Librarian. As one of the advisors to this conference from the beginning it was a pleasure to help plan and organize the special libraries track and then to moderate it all day. It was great to see so many of our members sparkle with their speeches and innovations. If you didn’t make this conference you missed a great one. We also had the InfoToday reception honouring SLA which was a treat. The Hogans and their staff at Information Today really know how to treat partners. Having spoken at most of their conferences for over a decade I have to say they are the cream of the crop as conference organizers, people and friends. There were many SLA members at this conference, many of whom had also just attended KM World. I had many lovely dinners with past and future board members. There was also a nice San Jose State University School of Information Studies reception. I sit on their international advisory board and it’s great to get this insight into the workings of the world’s largest accredited school.
On Oct. 30th I braved the security at Boeing in Seattle to have a nice dinner with the SLA PNW chapter. I learned a lot from them over dinner and then gave a presentation based on Association 2.0 (more on that later).
For Halloween I visited the students at the University of Washington as well as having a great personal meeting with the iSchool dean and senior staff. I ended the week at SJSU at the advisory council meeting, dinner with the university president and to give the Lazerow Lecture at SJSU. It was great fun and we set a record for attendance with lots of our dynamic California members there. The daily student paper covered it on the front page and their website! Our members were e-mailing me copies all week.
I braved security again at Battelle (You see, as a Canadian there are special rules for me at the border and with military contractors, beyond the standard checks and camera/phone check-ins.) to visit the SLA Central Ohio chapter. They were lovely hosts and I did a speech on 2.0. I also visited and gave a talk to several members at OCLC who are also involved with SLA in numerous ways.
In early December I did a visit to San Antonio and a speech to the SLA Military Librarians 50th Anniversary workshop. I speak to this group often and find them quite fascinating. I also get to reconnect with one of my heroes, Ann Parham, one of my favourite Pentagon librarians who survived the 9/11 Pentagon attack. I met with the SLA Texas chapter for dinner with Janice Lachance, our CEO, as well. We had a wonderful informal evening and I learned a lot. I ended 2006, as always, with the joint Toronto SLA/CASLIS Christmas social which is always a blast! I wasn’t able to see my home chapter members nearly enough last year.
For 2007, there are also a bunch of chapter visits planned – a few sponsored by SLA and a few as part of my own travels. In January I will do an evening event for the SLA NY chapter along with dinner with their board. I will also visit the Palmer school and meet with the students and staff there. I will also meet with the Clarion University library school atALA Midwinter where I sit on their advisory board . Then it’s off to Reno and meetings with the entire SLA Leadership!
I will do a chapter evening event for SLA Toronto West in February. Janice, Rebecca and I will attend the ASAE’s CEO Symposium together for effective executive training in February. This will be the third time I’ve done the ASAE course. Maybe this time it will stick!! (grin) Also, in February I hope to meet many SLA Oregon chapter members at Online Northwest just before the SirsiDynix SuperConference and Executive event. I’ve am thrilled to see so many SLA members on the program for my company’s premier annual event.
I am spending some of March in Europe at EUSIDIC and The ULK Serials Group Coference and will be waving the SLA flag there.
In April I will do a workshop for SLA Upstate New York. I’ll also do chapter visits and speeches for SLA Hudson Valley Chapter and SLA Fairfield County Chapter. In May I’ll do a chapter visit for SLA Princeton-Trenton and probably SLA Boston.
By June, we’ll be ready for our conference extravaganza in Denver. I am doing two programs so far which is at least a reduction from the four in Baltimore. I have more SLA plans firming up for the summer and fall but they do include IFLA in Durban, South Africa as well as more trips to Australia. So far I’ve been able to tie many SLA visits to my personal and business travel.
I have also noticed that an increasing number of my speeches everywhere are being podcast, webcast and streamed. This is happening worldwide and events in places as disparate as New Zealand, Idaho, South Carolina, the UW iSchool students and Sacramento are putting up content of me and others on the web for repeat use. This is great. (Reminder to self – I need to think about linking and promoting some of this free content on our SLA website.) That’s exciting and I’ve got to get more comfortable with seeing myself on screen and hearing my podcasts!
I hope you conintiue to find my column in Information Outlook useful and entertaining. I’m always looking for special library-oriented topics. Let me know if you have one you’d like me to write. I try to re-post the articles here too.
By the way, I have a very supportive employer (and boss) who values the contributions our staff make to association work. Not every president-elect has such a generous employer so I wanted to acknowledge that.
As for 2008, I have a few plans but don’t want to wet the powder too much. Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite and I do seek your comments and advice.
Finding Association 2.0
Better promotion of SLA’s good stuff like ClickU, blogs, etc.
An SLA Social Networking strategy for Professionals (Facebook, Blogs)
The Testimony Project (The SLA PR Committee and I have already met)
The Transparency Project (getting more members involved – experimenting with the committee appointment process)
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (Pay and Special Librarians podcasts)
Recruit! Involving Students in SLA (See the project done under my watch as Canadian LA president –
I am truly looking forward to seeing the results of Gloria Zamora’s and her fantastic team’s plans for the July 2008 Seattle Conference. It’s going to be great. Start planning for summer 2008 now. Seattle in July will be just glorious.
I want to set a 2008 agenda to deliver value for the members AND I want SLA members and potential members to notice and be involved. I believe that this is what sustains associations -member value. I also want to distill out some of SLA’s opacity to increase trust, excitement and understanding in the Association. This is vitally important if we are to attract large numbers of the next generation of librarians and information professionals. There is room in the 2008 plan for other manageable, visible, doable, rightsized deliverables with high value. I think this is a strategy that can work at SLA – a volunteer environment with a small staff. If you have ideas, please contact me.
Anyway, there’s an update on my activities for SLA. I have a full-time job too so the weeks are quite long for this middle-aged male (grin!). This posting doesn’t cover everything but it’s a start on more open communication from me. All plans for the next few years are still Jell-O. Flexibility demands that we trim the sails as we discover opportunities and identify new ideas.
Looking forward to seeing any who may be in Reno or my other travels. Please know that I am easy to find through my blog comments and e-mail (

Posted on: January 3, 2007, 4:20 pm Category: SLA Communications

One Response

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  1. Debal C Kar said

    Dear Stephen,
    I am Deal C Kar. I was Secretary, SLA Asian Chapter 2005-2006. Now I am Presiden Elect, SLA Asian Chapter 2007.
    Ist Seminar of the SLA Asian Chapter was organised 9th Oct 2005 in New Delhi on I T Application in Special Libraries. We are now organising 2nd Seminar of the the Chapter on 02 Feb 2007 on Benchmarking and Best Practices in Special Libraries.
    We have plan to organise one International conference in New Delhi in the month of Oct 2008 under the the Asian Chapter of the SLA banner with following aim:
    • To support SLA activities by increasing Asian membership.
    • To increase the activities and role of the SLA among the library and information professionals in Asian Region towards growth of the special libraries
    I invite your help, guidance and cooperation.
    thanking you.
    Debal C Kar
    President Elect, SLA – Asian Chapter
    Fellow, Library & Information centre
    Darbari Seth Block
    IHC Place, Lodhi Road
    New Delhi – 110 003, India
    Tel. (+91 11) 2468 2100 / 2468 2111 Extn 2724
    Fax (+91 11) 2468 2144 / 2468 2145