SLA 2011 Candidate Speeches
Deb Hunt – Candidate, SLA President-Elect
Question #1: Tell us about yourself and your primary candidate message.
Trends related to LIS employment show that in 2007, 15% of employers were not libraries and in 2008, that number jumped to 27%. In this same study, an analysis of emerging jobs outside of libraries shows a wide variety of titles: emerging technologies librarian, usability analyst, information architect, and more. With these types of titles in mind, the skills required and requested by employers continue to expand and change, including web design and maintenance, taxonomy creation, knowledge of metadata standards, etc.
I’ve demonstrated my adaptability and flexibility as my career has taken many turns. A few years ago, I was laid off from my job at the Exploratorium after 14 years of working there. I was able to ramp up my consulting firm, but it was still a big adjustment. Over the years, my consulting work has evolved in a way that I think mirrors what I see happening in the job market for us as information professionals. When I started consulting many years ago, I mostly did value-added research and library design and automation. Soon my library automation clients asked me how they could organize their internally created documents so they would be as easily accessible as the library collection. That is how I added document and enterprise content management to the services I offer. Most of my clients are not libraries.
As Stephen Abram noted (I’m paraphrasing here): “LIS skills are good currency, but only for those with the flexibility and insight to exploit the opportunities. “
This is one of the reasons I headed up the creation of SLA’s 23 Things and its recent update. We have core skills and have resources to add to them and our value. We have the tools at our disposal to chart our career path rather than let others determine where and when we are needed.
We must add flexibility, insight, and recognition of opportunity to our essential core skills! We need to move outside our comfort zone and reflect on our accomplishments so we can communicate them to current, future and prospective employers or clients. Else, how will they know what we can do and what we bring to the table?
So why am I running for SLA President-Elect?
I bring proven leadership skills to this position. I have prior experience as a Director on the SLA Board of Directors, as Chapter President and in many other leadership positions in the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter and in SLA divisions. I’m an innovator as the creator and team leader of SLA’s 23 Things. The 23 Things contributed to a mindset change for SLA members and enabled us to embrace new technologies, new tools, get ahead of our users and to lead rather than follow. I know how to get things done, grow new leaders, and create and strengthen programs for our members.
I see my colleagues struggling with layoffs and job insecurity. Yet there are vast opportunities for information professionals and I want to see us benefit from those opportunities.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to express where we need to go as a profession and the phrase that best expresses this is career sustainability which I have adopted as my candidacy theme. Career sustainability is about growing in our jobs now and in future jobs as we continue to deepen our expertise and experience.
Many LIS jobs are not coming back or are coming back in a whole different way. We are all in this together in the challenging job market. We need to be resilient taking our skills with us no matter where we go.
I believe that we have much potential and energy to move forward to career sustainability. We can make change happen. No one else is going to do it for us. We have to be ready to leap off the edge into the future, not blindly, but prepared as much as possible while taking some risk to get where we want and need to be.
I’ve started a LinkedIn group called Career Sustainability and I hope you’ll join the discussion and share your questions and ideas there.
We can build on our past, but we must look ahead to the future. Like other professional associations, SLA is experiencing a downturn in member numbers but people will join and stay if it’s a sustainable and valuable professional association.
I’m passionate about what I do and what we can do as a profession. Together we can create a more healthy and sustainable future as we grow our skillset and shout from the rooftops the value that we bring to our employers, potential employers and clients. I would appreciate your vote for me as SLA President-Elect. Will you join me in this endeavor of career sustainability?
#2. The information industry is constantly changing. Living within this environment, SLA must be an agile organization able to adapt as the industry matures. What services/functions/features should SLA change and what absolutely must be preserved as we become Future Ready?
a. What should be changed?
We need to look at how other associations are thriving in this economic environment and learn from them. Then, we need to make some tough decisions of what works best for SLA and its members so that we are sustainable both as an association and as a profession.
Additionally, while professional development is a high priority for our members, the model of pre-conference continuing education courses is not working well. ClickU low cost webinars such as the one Rebecca Jones recently did cost just $49 for members. The Illinois Chapter recently hosted a guest speaker and the cost to attend that webinar was $10. These low cost webinars often sell out and are just what our members need at a cost they can afford. And the SLA Europe Chapter provides valuable free continuing education podcasts in 15-minute segments that cover timely topics for our members. SLA needs to provide a way for our units to be able to easily present virtual professional development and to make those presentations available to all members.
Recently I did a presentation to the Silicon Valley chapter about the SLA website. It is so deep and full of information that most members do not realize what is there for them. We need to make the website easier to navigate and utilize analytics for what is used and what is not, so we can right-size it.
We need to be better attuned to our members outside of North America learning what they want and need from SLA so we can engage them more fully.
b. What should be preserved?
We need to preserve the transparency about what SLA is doing. The SLA staff and Board of Directors often work on important matters for a long time before they are rolled out to members. We need to make sure that members are as comfortable with and informed about these issues as the Board is.
The FutureReady 365 blog is an excellent example of a virtual meeting and sharing venue where we’ve heard from many members about topics ranging from change and how to manage it, to career agility and building our skillset. This type of sharing brings us together, showcases our strengths and areas for improvement, and most importantly provides solutions for us to be a sustainable profession.
SLA as a whole and SLA units need to continue to interact and collaborate with other information and library associations. I believe we can learn from their successes and also recruit new members, especially when we show them the ROI on our membership fees with member benefits such as the Alignment Toolkit, the 23 Things, the Futureready blog and ClickU.
The world has changed, our jobs are changing and we must look ahead to remain a viable organization and profession, identifying and acting upon growth areas and opportunities, for members who are new to the profession, in their mid or post-mid-career years or retired or nearing retirement.
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