As an International Association, How is SLA Meeting Your Needs? – Leslie Reynolds, Candidate for President-Elect
Those of you outside of North America: how is SLA meeting your needs and what more could the Association do to help you thrive as an information professional?
We need to continue to ask how well we are serving our membership no matter where they reside or work. We need to make certain our international members feel supported and treated in the way that they should expect. International members of SLA should expect to have the same services and resources available to them as do their North American colleagues. I’m very excited that our current President-Elect is from Europe and can help our board think critically and strategically to help address these needs.
Technology has made many services that used to be geographically bound much more accessible. It has also made volunteering with the Association easier. We have begun to hold board meetings using GoToMeeting and that has helped to reduce barriers of time and space. Time zone differences are an obstacle, but there are creative ways to jump over these hurdles, as long as we take the time to talk about viable alternatives. When I was President of the Southern Appalachian Chapter, we had to deal with two time zones; so I am aware that a small issue as time can have a huge impact on an individual’s ability to participate. Thinking about our Chapters that not only cross time zones, but also international borders, I can see where this may present a broader set of challenges. Of course, the first step in improving a situation is recognizing and understanding the issues.
SLA should develop more virtual programming that can be provided at various times of day that are convenient for different parts of the world. I was happy when I heard about our plan to hold a virtual conference in the fall that would tap into the most popular sessions at Annual Conference and provide them in a live, virtual venue to allow interaction with presenters at a fraction of the cost of attending in person. See http://www.sla.org/sla-virtual-conference-scheduled-for-september-25-26/ for registration and schedule details. The live session, re-envisioned for the GoToMeeting environment is better than just taping a speaker at conference; this allows for real time interaction with the audience and thoughtful consideration of the possibilities and limitations of an online event. Additionally, these sessions will be taped for further viewing in the future (and for the convenience of those who are unable to attend during the live session).
Additionally, I think it is important that SLA’s Leaders are able to visit various chapters throughout the world in person to continue this conversation. We gain insight by being in each other’s environment and getting a better feel for what it is like in another member’s shoes. People will share thoughts in a survey, but I think you find out more when you are face to face with someone (like YOU!) and listen to what is working and what is not. I am eager to hear from each of you! Please tell me your hopes and dreams for improving SLA for all of our members. I’d love to connect with you to continue this conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter (@leslier), or on LinkedIn. I look forward to hearing from you. With your help, we can make it happen!