Seek a Leadership Position
Each year over 2,000 members choose to give of their time and expertise to lead the association in varying capacities. Some positions are elected and some are appointed. Some are at the association level such as the board of directors or terms on committees/councils. Others are within the various units of the association – either within chapters, divisions, or caucuses.
Investing in volunteer efforts can provide an alternate track for management or professional training which might not be available through your employer. Getting involved in SLA leadership will provide professional and peer relationships that can broaden your technical and interpersonal skills, challenge you and enrich your life.
SLA’s current leadership has provided these answers which may help you to decide.
Develop Skills – Stretch Abilities
SLA offers the opportunity, in a non-threatening environment, to build on existing skills, stretch abilities, and learn skills which will translate to the job.
- Debbie Bogenschutz, President-Elect, Cincinnati Chapter: “Maybe you’d like to write but don’t know where to start. How about writing a profile of your library for the Queen City Gazette? Maybe you’d like to lead a team at work, but you’re not sure you’re ready. Develop your team skills with a Chapter Committee. Working with your friends in SLA is a great way to build your self-confidence. Don’t just think about what you do well…think about what you’d like to do better, and get that skill through experience.”
- Edmonton Chapter Director John Sinclair stretched “Producing and implementing SLA’s first virtual program through video streaming was a local failure, but an international success. I still savor its bittersweet taste, and it occupies prominent place on my resume.” John also states: “I’m convinced that my experience helped me get a new job. I had the opportunity to build library contacts, grow membership, market events in radically new ways, participate in virtual management, speak in public, and, best of all, get nice things said about me. I’m sure it all impressed the people who eventually offered me a new job.”
Contribute to Your Profession
- Sara Tompson, SLA Board member reports that volunteering for leadership roles allows her to give something back to the profession. Christine Klein, Hudson Valley Chapter, says she now has a knowledge that what she did (even though she didn’t believe it) made a difference.
- Debbie Sommer from the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter says: “Volunteering allows one to be connected to the organization in a stronger way, to provide input and shape future directions, as well as to give back to the group.”
- Thomas Hill, South Carolina Chapter President, says, “I volunteer because it is the thing to do. It is a categorical imperative to improve our lot and give a better future to those coming after us. In addition, I get to associate and work with some of the best, I eliminate my isolation, and I continue to grow and learn.”
The skills learned through SLA work translates to skills which you may need to excel in your career. You learn skills of delegation, motivation, mentoring, budget development and management, desk-top publishing, web-publishing, chairing an effective meeting, fund-raising, and how to recruit and reward others – just to name a few.
- SLA member Sandy Moltz: “Recently I was at a Boston SLA Chapter program where a person from a library recruiting firm spoke and said they require writing samples, and excellent communication skills to fill their high-paying positions. A person from the audience mentioned that she recently had difficulty filling a position. The candidates looked great on paper, but couldn’t communicate – a necessity in these team-oriented times. Many of us don’t have opportunities to improve skills in writing and speaking, or in delegating, running a meeting, etc. SLA will give you all these opportunities, in a non-hostile environment, for the leadership training you need.”
- SLA PR Chair, ITE Division Virtual Section Chair, and San Diego Chapter Network Chair Ty Webb states: “Volunteering is a great source of material for and showcasing your leadership skills, perhaps as chair of a committee or event. Maybe you’ll develop or refine a new skill such as writing or editing, strategic planning, budgeting, or fund raising – all things we need to succeed in our positions. Sometimes the opportunities in the library don’t seem to present themselves to us in a relevant manner.”
- From the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Roberta Fagin shares: “I’ve gained so much from my Chapter involvement. It has provided me an outlet for working as part of a team with a common goal, an opportunity to work on organizational and leadership skills, and a network of really terrific colleagues.” I discovered some incredible resources within the Chapter, people I might not have had much contact with otherwise.”
- Also from San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Marlene Vogelsang said: “I’ve met colleagues who knew the answer and, more than once, made me look really good at work. I’ve met wonderful, talented people, some who have become very close friends.”