SLA is an international organization.How can SLA involve and reach out more to members outside North America? Question 5 Division Cabinet Chair Candidates, Pam Enrici
The first thing I would do would be to talk to members from the various international chapters and find out why they joined and stay in SLA. Then, if possible, I’d talk to some ex-members who didn’t stay a member and find out why they left. Then talk to librarians who have had an opportunity to join SLA but chose not to. Once that list is compiled, I’d start addressing the issues not mentioned below. We also need to find out why those living in Central or South America or, for example, Russia, don’t have enough members to form various chapters.
There are geographic and geopolitical aspects that are a fact of life. Some can be overcome with some foresight and others will be next to impossible, if not impossible to deal with.
It is difficult to schedule meetings for all time zones. We need to be flexible when scheduling our meetings so that perhaps we do them early or late our time to accommodate other time zones. We need to make sure that meetings are recorded and that any webinars are also recorded so that people can listen to them at their own choice of time.
We need to make an effort to get volunteers for various division activities from our international members and to make sure that they feel welcome. Language can be a barrier and patience on both sets of groups is needed. There are also cultural differences that we both have to learn how to understand.
Getting to the U.S. or Canada can be expensive from many places. I’m not sure how cost can be factored in for attending the annual conference. If you are a librarian in any of the many places where the salaries are low in comparison to the U.S. or Canadian salaries, how can you attend? Do we price the conference at several levels depending on salary, do we subsidize international members? There isn’t a good answer for this but it needs to be discussed. Do we save all the sessions and allow international members to view these? Although this would cost SLA, I think this could be worth it. People would lose the networking piece, but perhaps this can be made up to some extent by having groups of people get together to view these sessions.
Finally we need to remember that we can learn from our international members. We have some answers, they have some answers and if neither group has an answer, then together we’ll have a better chance at getting that answer. It is not us or them but all of us together!
Univ. of MN., Duluth (on the shores of Lake Superior)