Candidate Question #2 at the Leadership Development Institute
The information industry is constantly changing (the players, the technologies, the information availability & needs, etc.). Living within this environment, SLA must be an agile organization able to adapt as the industry matures. What services/functions/features should SLA change and what absolutely must be preserved as we become Future Ready?
To move forward and be responsive, we, as the members of SLA, must evaluate every service, function and feature that our membership provides to us and decide what is required to help us succeed in our organizations, and what has run its course. As an example, should funding for research development grants be funneled to another resource that benefits a greater number of members? We need to determine what benefits are highly valued, and what we will continue to value, because any investment today must continue to reap rewards for us.
Specifically, we need to enhance SLA’s virtual presence, review the communication methods utilized by SLA, and we must look hard at the current conference revenue model to see if it is sustainable.
A more vibrant and robust virtual presence should enable us to learn and network when not at conferences or face-to-face meetings. It should allow us to connect with one another when we need to do so. A strong virtual presence should provide both a platform to support online programming at all levels, and a clearinghouse for the diverse webinars developed not just at the association level, but by all of the units as well. Chapters and divisions are actively working on virtual programming that could easily appeal to those outside their units, as well as potential members.
We also need to review the many communication methods that SLA uses to connect with us, from Information Outlook, to a variety of discussion lists, to blogs, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn, to be certain that information is comprehensive and consistent. And even though we are all accomplished information professionals, such clarity of communication will help us find what we need when we need it.
And finally, the conference revenue model … is it sustainable? Beyond our commitments in the next couple of years, do we need to consider hosting major conferences every other year, regional conferences or joint conferences with other organizations as viable options? Regional conferences, such as the ones staged by the Florida and Caribbean Chapter, have the appeal of requiring less funding and fewer days off for us to attend – though the planning and support for such conferences are still extensive. And when I think of joint conferences with other organizations, the successful meetings put together by SLA Philadelphia with the Medical Library Association, come to mind.
To be nimble, agile, and responsive, we must be willing to evaluate everything that we do now; consider the importance of each piece; and, be ready to have the courage to make changes. And this is a process which must occur very soon.
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