‘Take Up That Torch,’ Dana Award Recipient Urges

In 2009, the Special Libraries Association published a book, SLA at 100: From “Putting Knowledge to Work” to “Building the Knowledge Culture,” to celebrate the association’s centenary. On the occasion of SLA’s 110th anniversary, the author of that book encouraged his fellow information and knowledge professionals to lead their organizations into what he called “our new Golden Age of knowledge sharing.”

“In that last paragraph of the SLA history, I said that you—as knowledge services professionals and as members of SLA—are building and implementing the prototype and the inspiration for the knowledge culture, in your parent organizations and, as I see it, in society at large,” said Guy St. Clair. “And that knowledge culture will lead us, I predict, to a ‘golden age’ in the management of information, knowledge, and strategic learning in the organizations, businesses, and institutions where we work.”

The occasion for these remarks was SLA’s 2019 Annual Conference, where Guy received SLA’s John Cotton Dana Award, named for SLA’s founder and first president. The award is presented to an information professional to recognize a lifetime of achievement as well as exceptional service to SLA and the library and information profession.

“Guy almost needs no introduction, because in many respects, he is SLA,” said SLA President Hal Kirkwood when presenting the award at the conference’s opening session on June 16. “Guy coined the term ‘one-person librarian,’ which today we call solo librarianship, and he received SLA’s Professional Award in 1989 for recognizing the role that one-person libraries play in the library community. He is also the foremost expert in our profession on knowledge management and knowledge services, and has lectured and taught courses on those topics.”

An SLA member since 1972, Guy served as president of the association in 1991-1992, was named a Fellow of SLA in 1996, and was inducted into the SLA Hall of Fame in 2010. He was a longtime member of the SLA New York Chapter and served as chapter president in 1989-1990; he chaired the Museums, Arts, and Humanities Division twice, in 1976-77 and again in 1983-84; and he helped found, and was a longtime member of, the Knowledge Management Division.

Guy is president of SMR International, a New York-based consultancy specializing in knowledge services and knowledge strategy. He has written or co-authored more than a dozen books and numerous articles about information management, knowledge management, knowledge services, and strategic learning. He helped Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies develop an M.S. program in Information and Knowledge Strategy program and was a lecturer and subject matter expert on knowledge services in that program.

“I stand before you today to say to you that knowledge will fuel the advances of our own time, now and into the future,” Guy said in accepting the award. “It will be a time that I predict will come to be looked on as our new, and thrilling, knowledge revolution.

“And it will be the knowledge strategists and the knowledge thought leaders—that’s you, the members of SLA—who will be managing and leading this effort. No one knows better than you how to develop knowledge, how to share knowledge, and how to use knowledge.

“So take back the award. It’s not for me, it’s for you. And take up that torch, that torch that George Bernard Shaw handed to us. Carry it forward, hold it high, and let it burn as brightly as it can. Lead us, and bring us into our new Golden Age of Knowledge Sharing.”

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