SLA 2011 Candidate Speeches

Hal Kirkwood, Candidate for Director.

Candidates panel June 12 at LDI
SLA Annual Conference, Philadelphia, 2011

Question 1:  Tell us about yourself and your primary candidate message

In 1993, a professor from the SLIS program at the University of South Carolina took a small group of students to the SLA Annual Conference in Cincinnati.  He was a strong proponent for SLA and wanted to expose us to the variety of options within the library and infromation science field.  This trip exposed me to a wealth of opportunities.  The overwhelming experiences of key-note speakers, sessions, vendors, (and vendor parties), open houses, and the incredibly bright and welcoming people.

In 1995, I attended the SLA Conference in Montreal, serving on a panel on innovative use of the World Wide Web.  As just a baby librarian, I presented on collecting links to free country resources to supplement our holdings; this was a necessity due to our small budget.  At the time this was innovative, now it seems quaint.

In Boston at the 1996 SLA Conference I attended a Business & FInance Division Board Meeting and proposed the need for a Division Website.  I thus became the first webmaster for the Business & Finance Division.  Since then I have served as the Indiana Chapter Webmaster, College & University Business Librarians Section Chair, Division Awards Chair, Session and CE Course Presenter, and Business & Finance Division Chair for the 2007 Denver Conference.

I have learned, shared, collaborated, connected, networked with librarians and information professionals from all over the world.  I have developed professional relationships and personal friendships that have proven invaluable in so many ways.

It is paramount that SLA strive to deliver on promised services.  The leadership must admit to and develop solutions for the current challenges facing our members.  We must provide the right tools and support for our members to succeed.  We must grow the membership by reaching out to new information professionals, mid-career professionals, international professionals, and professionals in related fields.

The feedback loop between the members and the Board of Directors must be improved and strengthened.  The Board must be responsive…ALWAYS.  The Board must empower our fellow members to succeed in their jobs…to succeed in finding their next job.  The importance of being a part of something larger is what SLA is all about. 

I have been a librarian for 17 years and this is my 15th Annual Conference.  I am the Assoc Head of the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management & Economics at Purdue University.  My name is Hal Kirkwood.

Question #2:  The information industry is constantly changing (the players, the technologies, the information availability & needs, etc.). 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?

It would be simple to stand here and run through a list of SLA resources and services that we should keep or get rid of. The Association Management System should consistently work for the divisions and chapters; the SLA Web site could be streamlined and made more usable; strengthen the First Five Years project and perhaps develop a similar program for mid-career members…etc etc. 

However, what it means to me to be Future Ready is to accept the present.  A phrase that has garnered some press of late is The New Normal.  Are we now in a New Normal?  This serious economic downturn continues.  SLA Members are dealing with frustrating employment challenges.  All of us must cope with rapid, constant technological changes. 

Regardless of the specific services SLA is now offering we must:

  • Be affordable.  The tiered membership structure is a start.  Perhaps a tiered conference registration should be considered.
  • Leverage the strength of our members.  Continue the positive energy that comes out of the Annual Conference by developing initiatives and channels of communication throughout the year.
  • Integrate members career activities with conference activities.  Make the benefits of membership clear throughout the year as SLA serves as a regular source of support and guidance for members.

There is, from my perspective, a disconnect between the Board and the regular members.  I am a regular member and if I become a member of the Board I will still be a member.  Any of you, potentially, could be here where I stand doing this, and none of us should forget that. We must focus on member benefits, member value.  Everything must answer the question 'how will this help the members?'

Whoever is elected to serve on the Board will have to make tough choices for the longevity of the Association.  To be Future Ready, we all must do things differently in this 'new normal' environment.

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