Candidate Question #1
Candidate Q & A
The candidates will be asked a series of questions by President-elect Jill Strand. Read their candid thoughts about the future of SLA and the information profession.
Question 1: When did you first join SLA? What made you decide to join then, and why do you still belong today?
Candidates for President-elect
[wpspoiler name=”Jim DelRosso” ]
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.
I first joined SLA when I was in library school, and figuring out where and how I would establish myself as a professional. I was fortunate to be working at Cornell University’s Martin P. Catherwood Library at the time, and most of the librarians there were members of SLA; unsurprising, given that Catherwood is both an academic library and a special library focusing on workplace issues. Through those colleagues, I first saw the kind of support that SLA could offer to academic librarians working with specialized collections and communities. They gave me the opportunity to see how the various divisions and chapters provided learning and networking opportunities that were key to my colleagues’ professional development, and I learned from their example.
As my horizons broadened within my field, so did my appreciation for SLA. I attended and presented at Computers in Libraries, which is run by former SLA leaders, and for which SLA serves as a learning partner. I became involved with the Community of Industrial Relations Librarians, whose yearly meetings took place at SLA Annual. At my library, at conferences, and in library school, I met SLA members from around the world doing amazing things and pushing our profession forward.
But nothing expanded my perspective like the SLA events themselves, especially the annual conference. Suddenly, the full international, multi-industry, and cross-disciplinary scope of the Association became apparent. Meeting SLA members from all over the world, coming together as a whole to learn, train and talk shop: I had experienced nothing like it in my career as a librarian, and when I went home I was already anticipating going the next year. Most significantly, I left with the strong desire to be more involved at that next meeting.
Participating in these events and meeting so many members also brought to light the challenges facing our Association: challenges of finances, of engagement, of mission. After all that SLA and its members had done to help me develop as a professional, and after learning about the wonderful work being done by members who were looking to the Association for support, getting more involved in addressing those challenges felt like the natural next step. That impetus led me to a role on the Academic Division Board, to the Presidency of the Upstate New York Chapter, and then to this candidacy. I see each of those roles as an increased opportunity to help SLA support you better.
In the end, the members have always been what’s kept me engaged in SLA. I wish I could meet all of you, and hear all of your stories; I hope to speak with as many of you as possible in Vancouver and in the years to come. If elected, I’ll work to ensure that SLA is always an organization whose highest priority is serving you.
[wpspoiler name=”Tom Rink” ]
I joined SLA in the mid-1990s, shortly after library school, when I was tasked with building a library collection from scratch for my employer, a municipal police department, in an industry (law enforcement) that did not normally have or value libraries. As a police officer and librarian I found myself in a unique position since I was a solo librarian operating in a very non-traditional and highly specialized information setting. None of the professional associations that I had explored previously focused on the specific needs, challenges, or concerns that I was facing in my newly assigned information professional role at the police department. Then I discovered SLA (the Solo Librarians Division and later the Leadership and Management Division) and knew I had found a home. It was a perfect fit and I have been an active and loyal member ever since.
Joining SLA was a natural and easy decision. Being relatively new to the profession, I needed an association to affiliate with for all of the standard reasons, including professional development/continuing education, networking with other professionals, enhancing/developing my leadership skills, and mentoring. The “fit” just wasn’t there with any of the other library associations I had experienced to this point. I wasn’t an academic librarian, I wasn’t a public librarian, I wasn’t a school librarian . . . I was a special librarian/information professional, and SLA had a lot to offer. From the skill sets we acquire volunteering in leadership roles, to the diverse network of colleagues we meet from around the world, to the useful resources available on the website, to the fabulous networking and educational opportunities of the Annual Conference, webinars, and local chapter programming, SLA provides members with the tools and experiences they need to be successful both personally as well as professionally.
Let’s fast forward to today. I have transitioned from being a “solo librarian and my law enforcement career to my current position in an academic setting. The recently formed Academic Division (Happy 5th Anniversary!) has definitely gained more relevance for me now that I am working in this environment. My active involvement with the Oklahoma Chapter provides local year-round networking and professional learning opportunities. Beyond any single unit affiliation, the wonderful diversity and collective influence present within SLA (26 divisions, 55 chapters, 10 caucuses, and members in more than 60 countries) guarantees lifelong learning for everyone. SLA is about relationships, networking, and community. My life is more complete with the networking and learning opportunities at the Annual Conferences and Leadership Summits. I see some of my dearest friends during those action-packed sessions and meetings in June and January. There are friends and acquaintances from the last one to two decades, more recent colleagues, and the ones that I will meet this year. From the very start, SLA is essential and continues to be the vital organization that changes my career and life! SLA is very welcoming and SLA is my professional association of choice. Why? Because I passionately believe in SLA and in the value SLA continues to offer all of us.
Candidates for Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect
[wpspoiler name=”David Cappoli” ]
I initially came to SLA in the late 1980s while working in my first library position at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. I had been invited to fill in for a panelist at an SLA conference session and around that same time I became a member of the association. What I found at the conference, and through networking with members thereafter, was that SLA cultivates a supportive environment among librarians in which we are all encouraged to learn from one another. We may each have our own experiences and skills, and work in a variety of settings, but we benefit from our willingness to share our knowledge. And through this sharing, our organizations benefit as well.
Leaving the Herald Examiner to enter UCLA’s LIS program, I continued my SLA involvement though student activities tied to the association were infrequent and SLA was not at the forefront of my professional activities. It was not until returning to UCLA a number of years later as the Department of Information Studies Digital Resources Librarian that my involvement with SLA began to increase significantly. Initially I was asked to bring back the UCLA Student Chapter of SLA, and here I saw the enthusiastic interest of established information professionals who wanted to connect with students in order to share their own experiences within the profession. Again, the willingness to share one’s expertise and knowledge resounded with me, and continues to do so as I am still the chapter’s advisor even though I am no longer with Information Studies.
While at UCLA, my experience with SLA moved into chapter leadership roles with Southern California and the opportunity to serve on association-wide committees and groups. And this experience has enabled me to develop a strong level of confidence and succeed professionally.
So why do I still belong to SLA? Because SLA continues to encourage, facilitate, and strengthen the sharing of knowledge quite effectively even in a world connected by social networks. And because one’s leadership potential can be developed within the association and have a direct connection to our success as information professionals. </p>
[wpspoiler name=”Kim Silk” ]
Serving SLA: Give, and You Shall Receive
I joined SLA during the second term of my first year of graduate school at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. Even though I wanted to become a librarian, I knew I did not want to work in a conventional library environment, and I could not see myself being the kind of librarian I associated with my childhood experiences. Enamoured with technology since I was a kid in the 1980’s, I knew that my “geek need” would have to be addressed in any career I pursued.
It was a slushy January day in Toronto when I attended a workshop to learn about professional associations. Immediately I knew that SLA was the place for me: it was an association of people who had chosen a different path from the conventional, who embraced technology and appreciated diversity. While other associations focus on commonalities, SLA embraces our differences, and that perspective continues to inspire me.
Tackling my MLS part-time while working full-time meant that I didn’t have a great deal of time for association work, aside from attending as many SLA Toronto events as I could. SLA Toronto has always been a strong and supportive chapter, and I value the friendship and mentorship I received over the years, especially as I struggled to find my place as a librarian who didn’t want to be a librarian.
I attended my first SLA Annual Conference in 2009, in gorgeous Washington, D.C. My inaugural exposure to SLA as a global association blew my mind; I was awed and inspired by meeting practitioners from all over the world, and thus began my deep connection and loyalty to SLA. I have not missed an annual conference since Washington, and can’t wait to see all my friends in Vancouver in a few weeks.
My first SLA Toronto board experience was in 2011 as Technology Director – no surprise there! Since then I’ve received a great deal of encouragement to pursue leadership roles within the association, both at the chapter level as Chapter President, and at the association level by chairing the Member Demographics Task Force. These opportunities to grow my team-building and leadership skills have been invaluable to me in many ways. As a solo librarian in a small research organization, SLA provides me with people management and strategy training that’s not always available to me in my work place. SLA also teaches patience, confidence, and compassion; I am constantly in awe of how dedicated and passionate SLA volunteers can be, when we all have many other priorities competing for attention.
My own dedication and passion to SLA continues to increase as I take on this next challenge as a board candidate. The driving force behind my desire to serve is rooted in how much I have been given by all the good people who make up our association. In addition to mentorship, and skills in team-building, people management, strategic thinking and leadership, I have made incredible friendships that endure across distances. Having had so much given to me, I look forward to the chance to give back and build on the future of our SLA.
Candidates for Division Cabinet Chair-Elect
[wpspoiler name=”Ruth Kneale” ]
I first joined SLA in 1997 as a student in library school, when I learned from my advisor that the kind of work I was already doing was known as “special librarianship.” I had no idea such a group even existed until then, but it sounded right up my alley, so I joined.
Right off the bat, I knew SLA was right for me. I felt rather Sesame-Street-ish in grad school (“Which of these things is not like the other?”) – I had great people in my cohort, but not a one of them was like me. But when I started lurking in SLA – reading the magazine, talking to other students further along in the program – I felt like I’d found my people.
My first attendance at an Annual Conference was in 1999, in Philadelphia, right after graduation. I was nervous as all get out, because I didn’t know anyone, and had never been to a big conference before. I had just graduated and was a “real” librarian now, but still felt like I was masquerading. Well, Philly changed all of that! I attended interesting sessions, went to open houses, and first met people who I now consider to be friends and mentors. I also took my first steps towards getting more involved in SLA, accepting an offer to moderate a session in 2000. That first conference, and the people I met, took away my nervousness and engaged me in ways that still affect me.
The rest is history, as they say. I got more involved with my divisions, and started meeting more members. The more members I met, the less of an “oddity of librarianship” I felt like. SLA is my tribe; it was true then, and is true now.
[wpspoiler name=”Valerie Perry” ]
I am Valerie Perry and I am a candidate for 2015 SLA Division Cabinet Chair-Elect.
When I assumed my first professional position in 1998, I was guided by my supervisor and colleagues to join the Special Libraries Association because membership in the Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Division was an excellent match for my new role as an agriculture librarian. They were absolutely correct. I have been a member of several different professional associations but none of them has provided me with the depth and breadth of networking, programming, and other valuable experiences as SLA. In addition to joining FAN, I also joined several other science divisions (DST, DBIO & DERM) and the Kentucky Chapter. SLA became a place where I felt supported and that I could grow as a professional.
Initially, I served on committees and was elected Secretary for both the Kentucky Chapter and the FAN Division. Through my experience with fundraising for FAN, I realized that I needed to learn more about the financial side of SLA before I would feel comfortable as a unit president or chair. So, in 2004, I took the opportunity to run for the Science-Technology Division Treasurer and Sci-Tech News Business Manager. I enjoyed working with a large division board and getting to know a more diverse group of librarians.
For my next major unit role, I was elected as FAN Chair and Program Planner for 2009 and 2010. My newly acquired financial skills helped me to improve some of the FAN procedures for budgeting and financial planning. As a result, FAN gained a more stable financial foundation.
In 2012 I served as KYSLA President. My budgeting, program planning and visioning skills helped me be effective in this role. The Kentucky Chapter organizes a joint conference annually with the Kentucky Library Association, and this event had begun to experience some financial difficulties. I helped increase attendance by improving the quality of programming and also improved the financial stability through a new sponsorship model.
This year I was appointed by the SLA Board to serve as the Division Cabinet Past Chair after Ann Koopman passed away late 2013. I am humbled and honored to serve both because Ann had been a mentor and Sci- Tech colleague and because it gave me the chance to serve our Association. I remain a member of SLA because I enjoy the opportunities to learn new skills and to serve our members through leadership roles.
During every step of my career path in SLA I have learned, grown and shared that knowledge with others. I choose to serve to give back to the Association and members who have taught me so much. I enjoy getting to know members throughout the organization and learning about the various roles that information professionals play in our diverse world.
Candidates for Director (Two will be elected)
[wpspoiler name=”Kevin Adams” ]
I first joined SLA in 1996, but I had heard of it a few years earlier. While I was in London I worked for an organisation called TFPL. The director was heavily involved in SLA and talked about it, and gave me a brochure to join. I did not think about it much until I got back to New Zealand and into my first position. I knew a little about the organisation but it was not until I attended my first conference that I really found out what SLA was all about.
What prompted me to join was that while I was a member of the local special library organisation, I found that interacting with some members of SLA via an e-mail group gave me entrée to a much larger network of librarians who were focused on the same areas of work as I was. The attraction of SLA was that it had librarians grouped by subjects that I was engaged with. These were specialists who shared the same problems and issues as I did, despite my being on the other side of the world from most of them. The power of these networks gave me an ability to tap into large experienced groups of librarians. My attendance at my first conference only reinforced this sense that SLA was the association for me.
Why do I still belong? It is the networks and relationships I have built up over the years that continue to sustain me in my professional and personal life. You cannot put a price on the value that I have gained both in person and for my workplace over the years that I have been a member. Knowing that you are an e-mail away from a worldwide group of people willing to provide you with answers and suggestions has been invaluable to me. The conference itself with the chance to hear new ideas, make new friends and find new products that will help you in your workplace is also a reason that I have continued my membership. I look forward to giving as much back to the association as I have been given, especially by so many in my early years of being a member. I remember what it was like in my first years, and trying to help new members, answering questions and being on the boards of my various divisions and chapters is my way of doing so.
[wpspoiler name=”Dr. Saif Al-Jabri” ]
One year after starting work at the Main Library, Sultan Qaboos University, I attended for the first time the SLA Arabian Gulf Chapter Annual conference in Alain UAE in 1995. It was my first participation in a professional conference. The number of librarians and information professionals I met and the knowledge I gained at that conference left an excellent impression on me and encouraged me to attend future events organized by the chapter. During my postgraduate studies in the U.S., I attended some of the SLA NC chapter activities. Although I was not able to participate in any SLA activities while I was in Russia doing my PhD, joining SLA was a priority after gaining my degree and settling back in Oman late in 2004, and it was my first professional affiliation.
Joining SLA in 2005 opened the door for me in building my network and getting involved with SLA-AGC activities. It’s not only what I can get from SLA which made me join the association, but what I can give to my fellow colleagues and the profession as well. Through the SLA-AGC I was able to participate in a lot of activities and conduct workshops to develop librarians’ skills, introduce new technology to them and update them with all worldwide changes in their profession. With the absence of any other active professional body at least in the 90s, SLA-AGC was able cover the shortage. These days we have at least 2 major events — the annual conference and the medical symposium — and 2 to 4 workshops a year in the region, which attract professionals not only from the Arabian Gulf countries, but from the whole Middle East, and exhibitors from all over the world.
My involvement in the SLA-AGC board during the last 10 years has included two terms as president, membership officer and treasurer, and has developed my personality, expanded my knowledge, extended my network and improved my skills. Despite all the challenges that face me and my colleagues on the SLA-AGC board, every challenge has opened for us an opportunity to learn new things and gain new techniques on how we can continue to build our chapter, our association and our profession.
[wpspoiler name=”Elaine Lasda Bergman” ]
When the Healthcare Association of New York State hired me to oversee their Lillian R. Hayt Memorial Library in 2001, I joined SLA at the strong urging of my predecessor. She emphasized that as a solo librarian I would need support and connections to stay current in the field, and membership would mitigate feeling isolated within HANYS as the only librarian. At that time, I joined the Upstate New York Chapter, the Leadership and Management Division and the Solo Division. Soon after, I became active in my local chapter by answering an e-mail to help set up a room for a Chapter event. The activity gave me a chance to get to know some board members aside from networking at the meeting. I also had the good fortune of winning one of the icebreaker raffles which may or may not have added to my enthusiasm about being more involved!
Even if I had not won the raffle, I found members of the board to be welcoming, enthused and from a diverse array of library settings. I quickly saw the relevance of active involvement in SLA to my own career aspirations. After that event, I asked chapter leaders how to get more involved; it turned out they needed a Secretary. I became Secretary and proceeded to fill leadership posts in UNYSLA almost every year since that time.
Why do I still belong today? In 2014, I am in a very different place in life, including a different job, and yet I am more involved in SLA than ever. I have served as both President of my UNYSLA and am currently Past Chair of the Social Sciences Division. I value many aspects of SLA membership. I appreciate that we are from such a wide variety of settings and possess an incredible range of skill sets. I have drawn on the expertise of others in SLA to implement many initiatives and recommend innovative practices at work. Here are a few things that come to mind that I have gained from meeting another SLA librarian or attending an SLA event:
- Effective project management skills including how to document, propose, and make a business case for implementing change at my library;
- Discovery of new (and affordable!) tools to implement at my library, including a new online catalog/ILS at the Hayt Library;
- Furthering my education by pursuing Certificate of Advanced Study in Data Science — a program which I learned about at a UNYSLA event;
- Strategies for running an effective meeting and keeping it on track.
Of course the “big kahuna” in joining an organization like SLA is one that I have heard Jill Hurst-Wahl mention on a number of occasions. Our SLA contacts sometimes move from the “colleague zone” into the “friend zone.” In other words, we build lasting relationships and friendships which transcend professional interests. Beyond the surface advantages of our association are manifold deeper benefits of community and support beyond what is career-related–and these benefits exist for every SLA member who seeks them.
[wpspoiler name=”Catherine Lavallée-Welch” ]
While I held unconventional jobs as an information professional in my native Canada, somewhat bizarrely, I didn’t join SLA until I became an academic librarian in 2000.
I had recently moved to the U.S. and began working in Kentucky. Invited by members of the local chapter, I attended one of their social events. The enthusiasm and camaraderie shown by the members was contagious; I was hooked. By the end of the evening, I had volunteered to be the chapter’s webmaster. I have not looked back since. Since then, I’ve been involved in three divisions, two chapters, in a few association-levels committees and on the planning committee of a regional SLA conference.
I have worked as a records manager, as well as an information professional, on various online projects for cooperatives and non-profit organizations; I have been a consultant, an entrepreneur and a librarian. SLA, being an association for professionals from very varied environments, has always made me feel at ease. I think we can always learn from each other, even if our circumstances differ.
Additionally, the international aspect of SLA attracts me as well. I’ve worked in Canada, the U.S. and in French-speaking Europe. I gained a lot from those experiences, both professionally and personally. The potential for growth, both for SLA and me, is so formidable when the world is your territory.
Being involved in SLA definitely helped me get the most out of the association. I’ve networked with people from all backgrounds, developed new skills, discovered novel ideas and learned tremendously. I can only advise that all members get involved in any way that works for them, big or small. And, hopefully, get hooked as well.
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