Virtual SLA: A Wrap Up of the Association's 2000 Virtual Association Initiatives

By Harris, Maurice | Information Outlook, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Virtual SLA: A Wrap Up of the Association's 2000 Virtual Association Initiatives


Harris, Maurice, Information Outlook


What is the Y2K Virtual Association?

THE Y2K VIRTUAL ASSOCIATION (VA) INITIATIVES FOCUSED ON FURTHER developing the VA to continue to remove barriers associated with access to the association's information by its membership and customers from anywhere at anytime. As one of the executive director's 1999/2000 objectives in the area of change management, the VA initiatives were also realistically balanced and considered members' abilities and desires to access information electronically. This was done by assessing the membership's and industry's needs and preferences as related to the electronic dissemination of SLA's products and services.

This is article is the last article in a series designed to communicate and prepare membership for changes in the way the association disseminates its Y2K virtual products and services based on the needs and desires of membership and its customers.

The major VA initiative in 2000 was the redesign and implementation of the association's web site--Virtual SLA, released on October 12,2000. The site went through an exhaustive top down redesign of its content, look and feel, and supporting technology infrastructure. In January of 2000, the content management of the site was transferred to the association's Information Resources Center (IRC), which consists of staff who are also SLA members. This transfer addressed the membership's concern that the site wasn't representative of the capabilities of the profession. The IRC partnered with SLA staff, the Networking Committee, and an ad hoc web redesign committee made up of members to deliver to membership a new site designed by and for membership. Staff also conducted prototype demonstrations at our 91st Annual Conference to solicit ideas and feedback from membership before its final release. As a result, Virtual SLA was born, our new virtual community which will serve as a tool for meeting the membership's infor mation needs.

Besides its fresh, new, and professionally organized content with members' perspectives in mind, Virtual SLA boasts many new features such as a dynamic navigation menu, full text search engine, a new site map, centralized calendar of information profession events, a "Share This Page" link for instant sharing of resources, and dynamic unit officer information pages. The secret to the site and its new features is the new infrastructure. The site's content is stored in a database which makes it easier to manage, search, and display. With ColdFusion as the development tool for the web site, selected content or data from the web site database, membership database, or any linked database can be displayed via Virtual SLA enabling users to view current dynamic information. For example, if a chapter or division officer changes their address information, it will automatically appear in officer information on the officer pages on the site when requested. Under our old static page web site we had to update the site with the change thus creating additional work for staff. The new site map automatically searches the web site database to provide the end user with a site map of the site. The full text search queries the web site database for the desired content.

Virtual SLA now supports online registration for SLA events such as Winter Meeting, Annual Conference, and Strategic Learning and Development opportunities. Members and non-members can register online for all events sponsored by the association. Registrants can view a listing of events that are available and sold out. Using our industry standard secure SSL payment feature, registrants can pay for the items selected with a VISA, Master Card, American Express, Diner's Club, or Discover credit card. Upon successfully registering online, a registrant will receive an email confirmation to confirm the selections made. The registrations are then sent to a holding area that staff review and edit according to our data entry standards. Staff then approve the registration which updates the event system and issues an event confirmation which is sent via mail. …

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Virtual SLA: A Wrap Up of the Association's 2000 Virtual Association Initiatives
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