Member Insights: Northeast Chapters
SLA has an incredibly rich and diverse constituency. Members generally identify in two ways: by their geographic chapter and by their topical division. As I converse with and gather insights from members throughout the year, I’ll include chapters and divisions as well as staff and business partners.
I recently asked members of the northeastern United States chapters to answer three questions:
- If a non-local SLA member is visiting your region, what is a must-see site to visit?
- And food to experience?
- What is a recent favorite chapter program?
Northeast chapters include: Fairfield County (Connecticut), Hudson Valley (New York), New England (northern Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine), New York, New York – Upstate, Pittsburgh, and Rhode Island.
The recommended sites to visit in these chapters range from cultural to natural to historic. There are walking tours and mathematics museums, fashion galleries and national parks, sports stadiums and amazing libraries. Check out member recommendations.
And what to eat while visiting this region? Lobster is a favorite, though clams and local crab meat demand attention. There are local sweets, and Maine specializes in whoopie pies, Needhams, and Bangor taffy. Legal Sea Foods got its start in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the North End of Boston is home to some of the best Italian food in the United States. Rhode Island is reported to be the birthplace of coffee milk and the country’s first diner. Heading down into New York City, a visitor can find pretty much any ethnic food that exists. A slice of New York pizza is a must. There are local favorites throughout the region, and recommendations are linked here.
Programming across the chapters develops members, strengthens networks and provides professional fun. The Fairfield County chapter focused on data in 2016, planning their virtual conference session: The Accidental Data Scientist: A New Role for Librarians and Info Pros, featuring Amy Affelt, author and speaker. The Hudson Valley chapter, in addition to its two to three programs, hosts two to three happy hours a year. A highlight for their members in 2016 was a smash program, where tasty Italian food was served along with a presentation from Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue. Are librarians indispensable? Yes, of course!
The New England chapter has a tradition of dine-arounds. With a geographically dispersed membership, this is a perfect solution for gathering local members. Several members mentioned the SLA New England Fall Conference. Tracy Z. Maleeff was the keynote speaker, and the theme was “Building Skills, Creating Value.” There were eight sessions that ranged from practicing mindfulness to smashing information silos in your workplace. Nearly 70 attendees gathered for this day of professional development and networking. Other New England highlights included a History of Wikipedia program and my own chapter visit to Portland, Maine in July 2016.
The New York chapter kicked off their new year with an early January holiday event. Attendees included long-time members, first-timers and non-members. A highlight in 2016 was New York’s stand-up-paddleboarding event at the Manhattan Kayak Company at Pier 84. The event embodied NYC chapter members’ innovative, flexible, try-anything-once attitude, and it was such a success that they are going to repeat the event in 2017. Heading to Upstate New York, the local chapter hosted a program focused on career development. Speakers represented a variety of library types. Great tips and conversations focused on interviewing and advancing one’s career.
Pittsburgh members, like Fairfield County, focused on data in 2016, holding “The Walking Data: Surviving and Slaying the Monster of ROT (Redundant, Obsolete & Trivial).” This program was a partner event with the local ARMA chapter. Other events included a tour of the Warhol Archives and a screen printing craft night with pop craft. A highlight for the Rhode Island chapter was a tour and question and answer session with the researcher and media coordinator Astrid Drew at the Steamship Historical Society of America in Warwick.
The range of our chapter programs highlights the creativity and resourcefulness of our members. From simple gatherings to partner events to out-of-the-box experiences to full-day conferences, members experience SLA for their career success.
Where am I heading next? I’ll check in with our arts, humanities and social science divisions, which include Education; Museums, Arts & Humanities; News; and Social Science. Stay tuned!
—Dee Magnoni, 2017 SLA President