Candidate Question 1
Candidate Q & A
The candidates will be asked a series of questions by President-elect Tom Rink. Read their candid thoughts about the future of SLA and the information profession.
Question 1: When did you first join SLA? What made you decide to join then and why do you still belong today??
Candidates for President-elect
I joined SLA in 1992 as a student who knew almost nothing about special libraries. I was curious about this group, and took advantage of the student rate to explore. In the time of modems and the early days of the web, I found like-minded information professionals exploring resources and services through technology. These virtual colleagues, along with my local chapter, provided my introduction to SLA.
I remain a member because of the people and the impact they and SLA have had on my life. On the flight to my first annual conference in 1995, I found myself next to Sandy Moltz, a fellow librarian flying to the same meeting. She was reading a note from her daughter, and soon had me immersed in conversation about family, work, and SLA. Sandy took me under her wing, and kept me there for several years. While at the conference, I walked into the IT Division Board meeting, thinking that this was a program. I realized that I was in a business meeting, and turned to leave. Instead, I was welcomed and asked to stay. This openness to a new, inexperienced member made a lasting impression. Fast-forward to the following Leadership Summit. I was attending on my own, and was still shy about making contacts. I pushed an elevator button, got on, and saw that I had joined Hope Tillman. She was in the IT Board meeting at the previous conference, recognized me, and invited me to dinner with her group. I was touched that Hope remembered me, and this dinner began a life-long friendship, mentoring relationship, and series of professional collaborations. The personal stories continued. A conversation with Judy Field at another Leadership Summit helped me remember what is truly important and got me through a difficult family time.
Weaving through these strengthening ties was my own professional and leadership development. From my earliest years I raised my hand and was offered opportunities to volunteer and to develop. I began with program planning at the chapter level, and then chaired sections in divisions. Each step along the way provided new colleagues, mentors and friends. My competencies grew. My confidence grew. At one point I introduced my first speaker in front of a thousand plus people. I frankly did not shine that day, apologizing for taking up time before the speaker was on stage and forgetting to say my own name. I received gentle feedback from Donna Scheeder and grew once again.
My years of growth within SLA translate to my career. Just recently I received a compliment on how well I ran a strategy session at a cross-functional working group meeting. The scientist wanted to know where I had gained my facilitation skills. My answer? SLA!
I remain with SLA because I believe in the strength of our members and our collective ability to look toward our future, collaboratively chart our course, and work together to move our profession forward.
Seems like only yesterday!
I joined SLA in 1988, as a newly minted information professional. I had graduated from the University of Buffalo’s MLS program, and had just secured my first professional position as an “Information Scientist” in the Research Library at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS). Alice Weisling, a BMS colleague from Evansville, Indiana, encouraged me to join. Alice told me SLA was a great way to meet other information professionals working in the pharmaceutical industry and she stressed the variety of professional development opportunities available via the continuing education courses and the conference sessions. I remember going to my first conference in 1989 in New York City. Several BMS librarians arranged to get together to meet for the first time. The gathering became an annual tradition for several years, and as a result I am still connected with many of those people today. So my SLA membership early on, provided me two benefits – a way to connect with my work colleagues AND a way to reach out to the wider information professional community (both the buy and sell side.)
SLA was a great resource for a new professional
Connecting with SLA colleagues helped me a tremendously in the beginning of my career. While part of a larger network of BMS Libraries, I worked in a small satellite library and had to handle all aspects of running a special library. I continually tapped into this engaged network of people who faced similar challenges. From my SLA colleagues, I received tips on online systems; managing serials; heard about new products; gained ideas for new services; and received guidance on negotiating contracts. A few years into my first job, I began to be active in local/Western New York (NY) organizations like the Western NY Library Resources Council, and Western NY Health Sciences Librarians. I found I liked participating in the programming and planning. I liked feeling that I was contributing to the profession. One SLA conference, I offered to help with the Pharma Division in any way I could. Of course, the Chair took me up on it. I was thrilled to be volunteering for a large, international association. I started out with publishing the Division newsletter. Eventually, I ran for the position of Chair-Elect of the Division, where I was the first person to plan an Annual Spring Meeting to be held on the West Coast of the US instead the traditional East Cost. I also remember being active in the Division when we voted to change the scope note and to change the name of the Division to the Pharmaceutical and Health Technology Division. We used a local Buffalo firm to create a new logo for the Division and it is still used today! The Division soon after celebrated its 50th anniversary. That was an exciting time.
SLA was there whenever my career focus changed
I left the pharmaceutical industry in 1996, when I went took a positon as a ‘solo’, to start an information center for a global consumer product testing laboratory. I was now in field of engineering standards, and to be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about engineering standards. Again, SLA was the place I went to for help. I joined the Solo Division and became more involved in my local chapter, the Upstate NY Chapter. I also joined the Engineering Division. I attended all of their sessions, reached out to fellow members when I had questions and eventually became involved in the annual Engineering Division’s Standards Roundtable session (now called Standards Update). I chaired the Roundtable for 4 years running and I gained a lot from the experience. Meanwhile my role in the testing company continued to evolve and expand, as the company grew globally and I demonstrated I was able to take on new opportunities. My new responsibilities included managing the knowledge management and competitive intelligence functions. SLA, again, was the where I turned – the best place to connect and learn.
Throughout my entire career, SLA has consistently offered me an unrivaled network of colleagues and opportunities for both professional and leadership development. 27 years later, SLA is still my ‘go-to’ professional association.
Candidates for Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect
It was a time of the exploding Internet. E-mail was new; no one knew how it would affect the information professional industry. I was a newbie, just graduated with my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, working in the Kansas City area. I belonged to the American Association of Law Libraries and it was recommended that I also join Special Libraries Association. I began attending the regional Heart of America meetings. At the time I really did not understand the structure of the information professional world until my mentors provided some much-needed guidance about the industry. They gave me some great insights into why they joined the association and why it was important for me to belong to the organization. In our conversations two themes kept popping up—networking and technology.
Networking has been such an invaluable activity for me. At my first conference, which was in Boston (coincidence!), there were about 7,000 attendees. I remember I had fun collecting business cards. What a novelty! I have never had so many business cards to take back with me! I loved to discover other connections that were in a variety of positions because I never knew when I would need help and advice on a certain research project or technology issue.
I made so many new connections that year and was amazed by the expertise and experience all gathered in one place. I continue to belong to SLA because of these connections between the members and their expertise and how we help one another. The other reason I stay: technology. I feel this profession has always embraced technology and has been on the edge of innovation, combining talents and research. Technology seems to make my career easier but I have discovered that technology needs our passion and dreams to continually connect our ideas and research.
Nourishment – collegial, professional and intellectual – is the reason I joined SLA and it is why I am still here and still engaged. SLA wasn’t my first professional association; but it has become the most essential and enduring.
In the mid-1980’s, my needs for professional sustenance changed when I left a traditional career path to found a library and information management business. My primary association, I was surprised to discover, was uncomfortable with non-conventional librarians. At the same time, I was developing organizational systems in a dizzying array of industries – from manufacturing and petroleum to news and arts organizations – way outside my academic and law background. I needed a new professional home that would nourish my entrepreneurial side, embrace librarians in non-traditional roles and connect me with professionals in a range of disciplines. I found SLA and the welcoming, diverse, supportive and future-oriented organization I had been missing.
During the years since, SLA has embraced my non-conventional career path and been a catalyst in moving it forward. Where else but the LMD Consultants Section would I find a group of potential competitors invested in each other’s success? I’ve passed on and been the recipient of client referrals, asked for and given advice and worried over and celebrated business ventures with colleagues-turned-friends.
Professionally and intellectually, SLA has given me a broader platform to explore and develop alternative approaches to our work and future, from customer-centric services and products to embedded roles – even co-awarding me a research grant to study embedded roles. The Annual Conference has frequently been the vehicle for exploration and sharing. I’ve presented, moderated, planned and taught programs and CE courses at almost every conference since 1994, many focused on repurposing expertise to expand our roles. My Washington, D.C. chapter has been no less important. My friends and colleagues there have supported and worked with me to introduce speed-mentoring, alternative career paths and leadership programs for chapter members.
There’s more – I’ve been exposed to exciting, innovative thinking as a participant in both the Alignment and Loyalty Projects. Both of these projects have reinforced my sense of our profession and association’s interlinked futures, strengthened my passion for both and underscored my belief in a member-centric association.
I belong to SLA for the nourishment all of these have given me. But most of all, I belong for the community of fearless, generous and open professionals I have come to know and call friends.
Candidates for Division Cabinet Chair-Elect
I first joined SLA in the spring of 2005. I had just returned from my second Military Librarians Workshop, a conference put on by the Military Libraries Division each December. I was very energized. The conference had great programs, and the librarians that I met were smart, interesting, and dedicated to their work. I wanted to be a part of this group. In order to join the Military Libraries Division, I first needed to join SLA.
I immediately became active on the board of the Military Libraries Division. At the same time, I used the opportunity of attending the SLA annual conference to sample the programming of many other divisions. Within just a couple of years of joining SLA, I had added the Knowledge Management Division and the Leadership and Management Division to my SLA membership. Both offered inspirational programs with gems that I could take away and use in my work environment almost immediately.
I look forward to the SLA annual conference every year. Part of me looks forward to the programming, especially from the divisions that traditionally offer programs that are relevant for me. I also enjoy sampling programs from other divisions, broadening my knowledge and teaching me new things. Another part of me looks forward to the people of SLA, the friends that I have made over the years who live hundreds of miles from me, and who I only see once a year at the SLA annual conference.
I believe that I still belong in SLA, though my role has changed between 2005 and 2015. In 2005, I felt like the new kid. I attended the SLA conference and the Military Libraries Workshop to learn as much as I could from those more experienced than I was. Since then, I’ve learned that I have expertise to share with others. I also learned to accept leadership roles, especially those that built on my strengths. This is how I fit in SLA today. SLA is helping me to capitalize on my strengths and develop some of my weaknesses.
I joined SLA in 1998 when I started working as a solo librarian at Hazen and Sawyer, an environmental engineering firm in New York City. Until then I tried without success to find my career niche, taking positions at a hospital, academic library, and government agency all within a three year period. At this position, however, I was in charge of turning around a neglected library, so I had a definite goal and knew I would need professional support.
Initially, I turned to SLA because the divisions provided access to experienced professionals via email discussion lists. I gravitated to the solo and engineering divisions and gleaned many important tips. For instance, the solos had practical experience to share about different library catalog products, keeping statistics and marketing my library. The engineering librarians helped with collection development issues. I first learned about strategic planning through SLA, just what I needed in order to plan a 21st century library upgrade. The advice and support I received gave me the confidence to realize that plan which included implementing a web accessible library catalog, re-cataloging the physical collection, developing an intranet website and expanding services to all 14 corporate offices. Later, I tapped the New York Chapter for help creating a local group for solo librarians that met to discuss challenges and share lessons learned.
In my current position at a library consortium, I work with library school students and librarians of all stripes and my work with SLA units has helped me achieve the high level of leadership required for this position. Some of the skills I’ve developed include meeting facilitation, conference programming, negotiating with vendors, collaborating with other units and communicating compelling messages to different groups. I’ve also established a number of relationships with SLA leaders who I seek out for advice.
All told, SLA has helped me to become the professional I am today and I’m happy to return the favor by volunteering my time. And as for the future, I still have many professional frontiers to navigate, and I know that SLA and its staff and members are with me all the way.
Candidates for Treasurer
It seems a million years ago when I joined SLA for the 2001 Annual Conference. Back in the UK I headed up an organization called the City Information Group. It was aimed at information professionals in the London area and at the time was the number one networking group to belong to. Every year at the “Online Information” conference and gala dinner, I was the CIG representative handing out an award to someone of note in the industry. That’s where I met members of SLA and became curious about the group. With the SLA European Chapter, we held a number of collaborative events for our members. After moving to the US, I was completely sold and smitten with SLA.
When I arrived in New York, I wanted to pay back what the professional community had provided to me, and I contacted the New York Chapter’s president to find out if there was something useful I could do for the chapter. I was asked to work on sponsorship and finance – and since I enjoy the challenges in sponsor relations and in finding creative ways to keep the chapter’s coffers filled, I took it on. Since then, I have worked my way up the leadership ladder within the New York Chapter, bringing new ideas to the table and working with the innovation and creativity of past leaders.
Why do I stay? It has often been said that SLA is a family, with good reason. Through my involvement with SLA I have made friends from all over the world, people I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have learned so much from them! I am proud to belong to an organization that has been such a support in my professional life, and I am eager to serve it.
I joined SLA in 1988 with my first professional job – I was the Assistant Librarian at ScotiaMcLeod, an investment bank here in Toronto, and my boss, Angie Devlin, encouraged me to join. She told me that I would benefit from SLA in many ways – but especially in terms of opportunities for continuing education, professional development and connections. She was right then – and I would say that I continue to benefit from these same opportunities.
- Continuing education: members come into our organization as “new” librarians – or certainly new to a corporate or government or academic environment where you need to manage specialized collections of information / specialized bodies of knowledge – and oftentimes now this information management is occurring outside of the box we call a “library”. Regardless, we come into this profession knowing that we’ve signed up for lifelong learning. We hold professional degrees. Our library and information degrees prepare us to think in a certain way. We don’t get “trained” to do this job. Where else are the new librarians going to receive that very targeted ongoing education in their field – other than from SLA – an organization whose focus is on connecting people and information?
- Professional development: SLA can be the nice, safe, secure environment where members can try out new professional roles – before they even take them on in their workplace. For example, SLA is where you can develop and polish your public speaking skills – before you have to get up in front of your senior management at work and make a presentation. SLA is where you can chair a committee, become a leader in your chapter or division – even before you get that promotion at work. You’re building those leadership skills within SLA that are necessary to enable you to take on those new opportunities in your workplace.
- Connections: where else are you going to find a whole host of members who get what you do and why it’s important? So that when you need new ideas, you have a place to turn. So that when you are facing challenges in your workplace, you can get feedback and advice. So that when it’s your turn to give advice and ideas and feedback to the next generation of librarians, you are there to take ownership of our profession, to ensure the new librarians coming out of our iSchools have these same opportunities to learn and develop. That is why I still belong. SLA is our responsibility.
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