Magazine article Information Today

SLA Leadership Summit 2009: Catching Up and Moving Forward

Magazine article Information Today

SLA Leadership Summit 2009: Catching Up and Moving Forward

Article excerpt

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) decided several years ago to make its January meeting a Leadership Summit rather than a second smaller, traditional conference, as the American Library Association (ALA) did. SLA exhorted the top leaders of its geographic chapters and its subject-oriented divisions to attend, not to see an exhibition hall or listen to multiple conference-session speakers, but to learn leadership skills and bone up on the latest developments within the association.

Given today's tough economic climate with organizations across the board imposing travel restrictions, SLA's approach seems to be working--more than 250 SLA leaders gathered in Savannah, Ga., for the SLA Leadership Summit 2009. That's equal to last year's numbers, a success for the association. The summit's geographic reach was particularly impressive, with one librarian from Australia and three from the U.K. in attendance. Granted, there was little in-person representation from the sub-Saharan Africa, Asian, or Arabian Gulf chapters, but Janice Lachance, SLA CEO, reported that membership has been growing outside North America, particularly in India (the Asian Chapter now numbers 140).

The Leadership Summit, with the rhyming theme of Align in 2009, began with a welcome and introductions from SLA chapter cabinet chair Susan Fifer Canby, who outlined the following three goals of the summit:

* Develop strategies for SLA's centennial year

* Brief the group on SLA's alignment project

* Prepare attendees for their leadership roles with the association

She shared an interesting blend of looking back 100 years to the founding of the SLA in Bretton Woods, N.H., and looking forward to where SLA should be going to align its strategies and image to identify its core values and prove the worth of its members and the profession.

State of the Association

Following Fifer Canby was the self-described "tag team" of Lachance and SLA president Gloria Zamora, who gave a State of the Association presentation. They took turns explaining what Align in 2009 means, beginning with some announcements. First, ClickU, which provides live virtual seminars, will be free in 2009 (including replays), and certificate programs will offer a 15% "buddy discount." SLA also created a new dues tier for those earning less than $18,000 per year. These members will pay only $35 in annual membership dues, a boon not only for the unemployed but also for those in countries where salaries are low by North American standards. Virtual membership was eliminated. The board of directors also approved a new Academic Division and accepted a research report from Michael Fanning of Online Consultants International GmbH in Karlsruhe, Germany. The report discusses ways to expand SLA membership and activities in Germany.

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However, not all is rosy, as SLA's investments and income have declined. Proclaiming that "austerity is the name of the game," Lachance announced plans to decrease the number of issues of the association's journal, Information Outlook, from 12 to eight per year. The association also abolished the AOOC (Association Office Operations Committee), and virtual board meetings are keeping travel costs down. …

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