Candidate for 2023 President: Seema Rampersad
Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Seema Rampersad went to London to study information and communication. She worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Business Information Centre and the Intelligence Unit at the Greater London Authority. Seema currently works at The British Library’s Business & IP Centre for starting-up and growing businesses, which has helped thousands in the U.K. and internationally.
Seema is still an advocate for traditional library and information services. She recognizes the need for the profession to evolve and develop whereby industries and sectors can benefit from the skills, competencies and network of specialized libraries and information professionals. Seema continues to use new technologies for collaborating information and knowledge across subject areas and borders. She is interested in social media, AI, machine learning and multimedia as business-focused and professional development tools for managing and delivering data, information and knowledge.
Seema serves on SLA Europe’s Board of Directors as past president and is on the Digital Communications Committee; she previously was Membership Chair. She is currently chair of the SLA Task Force on Reopening Specialized Libraries, is a member of the PREP Advisory Council, and was an initial member of the Task Force on Diversity Inclusion and Equity (DICE). She also volunteers in her local community. Read more about her at https://sla-europe.org/contacts/board-profiles/.
Question #1: Why are you a member of SLA? What has kept you a member throughout the years?
As a member of SLA since 2004, the value and benefits I get are immense for my own continuous professional development in this important information and digital age. Prior to this, my inspirational manager was a member and would circulate Information Outlook to my colleagues and me. When he left, I felt I was missing out on industry, professional stories, insights, and trends. I have since self-funded my membership.
SLA has a unique position, with great subject specialism and international participation of members. Our professional network has great power and relevance digitally and physically at conferences, events and on SLA Connect. SLA facilitates practical, insightful training, learning, industry networking, development and collaboration opportunities.
My tangible strategic involvement are roles in the DigiComms Committee, as membership chair, on the board of directors, and as 2020 president of SLA Europe. I was invited by SLA presidents to serve on the initial task force for DICE, as chair of the Task Force on Reopening Specialized Libraries, and as a member of the PREP Advisory Council. I have advocated for, and spoken on, issues I take to heart to share with our communities.
We are a truly collective force for good to face challenges and seize opportunities now and in the future, as we are stronger together.
Question #2: Why are you running for the SLA Board of Directors? What do you bring to the table? How do you plan to help support other SLA members, if elected?
As a long-standing member, I was happy to give back to the organisation and members. Now I’m at the stage where I’m able to contribute in a greater and impactful scale to the strategic vision and operational direction that myself and our communities are heading toward.
I have had numerous interactions with the SLA Board of Directors since my own SLA Europe presidency. We have worked on crucial changes and implemented various initiatives over the years, from restructuring, revenue generation, and membership retention to general discussions on how to make the organisation welcoming, dynamic and sustainable. Personally and professionally, I have volunteered in the past for other roles in my local and global community which I can harness and apply to SLA’s Board of Directors.
I’m hard-working, committed, and enthusiastic, with loads of positive energy which can be used to motivate and support board members and communities. Vice versa, I can see the bigger picture on work and reach that we still have to do and the need to engage with our members in positive experiences as well as on contentious issues. I recognize the need for transparency and accountability, which is obviously my communication style … with a lot of passion, respect and experience.
Question #3: SLA is a leader in its commitment to diversity and inclusion and the importance of civil discourse. Share how you have demonstrated leadership or action in these areas, and how your own experiences will inform your contribution as an SLA board member.
I am not from a privileged background, as an Indo-Caribbean immigrant to the United Kingdom (married to an Italian). I do know that I am different, culturally and professionally enriched, and empowered from my heritage and personal experiences.
Professionally, life has been difficult, with many barriers and setbacks, and personally it has been frustrating. I have not let this lack of belief or investment stop me from being professional and highly skilled in my roles. I have taken very long roads to success, possibly due to my ethnic background, but deep down I have self-belief, understanding and confidence which I hope will be exemplary for other persons like me, and for future generations.
SLA members and fellow volunteers are welcoming, accepting and encouraging. They have been a pleasure to work and socialise with over the years. Literally I have been invited to the “board” table, and to even dance at the party! I constantly try to understand and implement change for marginal groups, but also in the wider social justice context in communities that we serve. The profession itself needs to be more diverse and inclusive. We need to advocate for our professionals who are constantly taken for granted, or misunderstood.