SLA Recognizes Student Groups for Achievements in Leadership and Innovation – August 27, 2014

SLA Contact:
Stuart Hales
Phone: 703.647.4919

SLA Recognizes Student Groups for Achievements in Leadership and Innovation

August 27, 2014, Alexandria, VA – SLA student groupscomprise the future of the information and knowledge management industry and incubate many of SLA’s future leaders. This year, SLA is honoring the following student groups with a Certificate of Merit for their achievements in selected areas:

  • San Jose State University: Creative Use of Electronic Resources, Outstanding Leadership, Innovative Programming
  • University of Washington: Outstanding Leadership
  • Catholic University: Innovative Programming

Recipients of the Student Group Certificate of Merit are recommended by SLA’s Student and Academic Affairs Advisory Council (SAAAC), which advises the association’s chief executive officer on programs pertaining to student activities of SLA’s chapters and divisions.

“SLA’s student groups are the starting point for SLA’s future leaders,” said Janice Lachance, SLA’s chief executive officer. “It is our goal to get them involved early and often so they can get on the fast track before they complete their library and information science programs.”

More About the Student Group Certificates of Merit

San Jose State University Student Group

The San Jose State University Student Group is recognized for achievements in the creative use of electronics, outstanding leadership, and innovative programming.

Because the SJSU School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) program is completely online, its global community of students must be comfortable in a non-traditional learning environment. The SJSU Student Group, which spans three continents and partners with several SLA chapters and divisions,  embraces this environment of virtual collaboration in its programming and networking activities. The group holds its official meetings using Blackboard Collaborate software, and conducts smaller committee and subcommittee meetings using a combination of Google Hangouts, Google Drive, and the Blackboard IM messaging service. In addition to these services, the group uses WordPress and the MailPoet plug-in to manage its Website and member e-mail lists for year-round collaboration.

Through the use of these tools, the group has grown its membership from 8 members in 2013 to 66 this year. Partnerships with the SLA Silicon Valley Chapter, the Taxonomy Division, and various other chapters and divisions  have also helped invigorated the group’s presence within the student and young professional community of the information industry.

The group’s innovative programming, however, is the backbone of its rapid growth. The group has sponsored presentations by former SLA President Stephen Abram, a Webinar on alternative career paths, and a group Pinterest presence, to name just a few. The group also sponsored a colloquia lecture by Amy Affelt titled “What’s the Big Deal with Big Data?” Podcast.

San Jose State’s SLA Student Group addresses the entire spectrum of professional development, and it is more than deserving of the Certificates of Merit.

University of Washington Student Group (SLA-UW)

The University of Washington Student Group of SLA is recognized for outstanding leadership over the past year and specifically for the following multi-faceted effort.

A capstone project is a degree requirement in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the University of Washington Information School. Working alone or in teams, students manage the project’s development, tasks, schedules, and deliverables, then coordinate the hand off to the sponsoring organizations. The projects cover such areas as content and knowledge management, Website design, application development, digital initiatives, data management or analysis, academic bibliographic instruction materials, program or service development, and collection development.

The student leaders of SLA-UW, in conversations with their fellow students across the program (both residential and online), noted a high degree of difficulty in locating projects and sponsors in the autumn of 2013. The group identified an opportunity to create an event that would help match students with necessary projects and sponsors. Using the “speed dating” metaphor, the group created a capstone networking event where potential sponsors would have a few minutes to “pitch” their projects to the students and student teams could “pitch” their teams for additional members.

As they planned the event, SLA-UW partnered with students in the Master of Information Management (MSIM) program, which also requires capstone projects, to create a combined event. The students secured the support of the school’s director of corporate and foundation relations, who contributed additional funding and outreach to organizational partners and invited iSchool faculty looking for students to explore research projects.

The Capstone Networking event, held on 5 November 2013, drew 30 representatives from 25 sponsoring organizations and approximately 60 students who attended in person. The event was also broadcasted to the online student population using Adobe Connect, which enabled the online students to view the pitches and communicate with sponsors. As a result, students successfully connected with organizations such as Alaska Airlines and Expeditors International, and several teams formed on the spot and added members throughout the event.

Thanks to the vision and leadership of SLA-UW,  students were able to size up the available projects and connect with other students and professionals in sponsoring organizations. Through their own initiative and drive, the group launched an innovative event that benefited two academic programs and deftly partnered with several other groups in the school to enhance the planning and support responsibilities. The event was so successful that the chapter is working to engage the iSchool in supporting such an event each year.


Catholic University of America (CUA) Student Group

The Catholic University Student Group of SLA is recognized for innovative programming in several areas.

Professional development programs hosted by the group, especially the Career Development Knowledge Café (on 9 November 2013), have given students a greater awareness of the skills and competencies of special librarianship, identified the opportunities available in specialized library and information services settings, and fostered connections between students, educators, and practicing professionals. They have also attracted students who were previously unfamiliar with these opportunities and heightened the awareness of SLA within the program. The Knowledge Café event used an innovative format in which students met in small groups with information professionals, rotating among them so that each student had the opportunity to engage in conversation with each practitioner.

On November 13, the group participated in a “Careers in Library Science” panel discussion with SLA’s Government Division and the Washington, D.C. Chapter. The group publicized the event to students, thereby raising student awareness not only of the event, but also of SLA.

On 10 February 2014, a “Diverse Career Paths” chat brought several SLA leaders to the Catholic University campus to discuss alternative career paths. Here, the CUA SLA Student Group took an innovative approach to documenting the event. They not only videorecorded the session, but secured its inclusion in the Catholic University of America’s official YouTube channel, thus bringing increased visibility beyond the library and information science community.

Finally, field visits have exposed student group members to specialized librarianship and information opportunities, connecting them with practicing professionals and showing them first-hand the nature of information professional work. The tours are not merely inspections of buildings and facilities, but opportunities to engage with the information professionals in these public and private institutions.

CUA SLA Student Group leaders have carried out an ambitious program during the past 12 months that has addressed students’ professional development and career planning needs, heightened their understanding of specialized librarianship, and afforded rich opportunities for interaction with successful information professionals. The group is more than deserving of the SLA SAAAC Certificate of Merit for innovative programming.

About SLA

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in 68 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. For more information, visit

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