SLA reaching out internationally

SLA is an international organization. How can SLA involve and reach out more to members outside of North America?

David Cappoli
Candidate, President-Elect

From 1972 when SLA established its first units outside of North America with the Europe and Hawaiian-Pacific chapters, to SLA’s Global 2000 Conference held in the U.K., to the launch of the Australia and New Zealand Chapter in 2004, SLA has been an international association. SLA though should explore a number of options that would engage more members throughout the world, as well as reach potential members.

How wonderful it would be for SLA to host an annual conference outside of the U.S. and Canada, but the challenges would be significant. A good number of SLA members, coming mostly from North America, might defer attending such a conference due to difficult economic times that have constricted personal and professional travel budgets. And, vendors, uncertain of attendance numbers, may be wary to sponsor such a conference because their own costs for attendance would be high. But regional conferences focused on timely topics with the majority of the planning at the local level would appeal to members and non-members in or near the region, and could also attract North American members already planning to travel abroad.

Additionally, while travel from association leaders could potentially be affected due to budget cutbacks, virtual visits to chapters throughout SLA could be enhanced.  And since SLA is an international association and as such needs to have a certain level of round-the-clock availability, the timing of these virtual visits could be set by the local chapter so as to best accommodate its members – even if it is noon in London and 4:00am in Los Angeles. Prior to the “visits,” an effort could be made at the association level and locally to ensure that there are options for local members to participate in the leadership visit even if some members are not able to personally run virtual programming due to connectivity problems. This same model might also be used when staging virtual programming at the association level, such as the webinars from Click University, so that the “live” program is not always planned at a time most amenable to only North American members.

SLA can also encourage its units to jointly fund stipends for international members to attend the annual conferences.  These scholarships, such as the ones developed by the Business and Finance Division, SLA Europe, and the SLA Asian Chapter, can help lower the major cost of traveling to and registering for conferences.

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