Toolkits, Road Maps, and the Member Experience

Nobody knows more about the “association experience” than association members themselves. Members of the Special Libraries Association are taking that truism to heart and working in small groups to improve the member experience, from creating “toolkits” about topics of interest to specialized librarians to identifying and sharing pandemic success stories to developing a web portal and “road map” for new members.

These and other initiatives were shared June 21 during SLA’s Mid-Year Committee Forum, which brought together leaders of SLA’s committees, advisory councils and task forces to present status reports on their 2021 activities. These groups are separate from SLA’s 50-plus communities, which represent geographic areas (such as the Maryland Community and the Southern California Community) and disciplines (e.g., the Engineering Community and the Taxonomy Community), but they are similar in that they provide SLA members with volunteer opportunities and undertake projects to enhance the member experience.

SLA’s Content Advisory Council, for example, has formed volunteer task forces to identify the many content resources within SLA pertaining to diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) and the evolving role of special libraries. These resources can take many forms, including the following:

  • webinars presented by SLA or its communities;
  • posts on SLA’s website or the websites of its communities
  • education sessions at SLA annual conferences;
  • papers or posters presented at conferences;
  • articles in SLA’s magazine, Information Outlook; and
  • posts on SLA’s community forum, SLA Connect.

“We often lose sight of all the great content everyone’s making,” said Brian McCann, systems and knowledge management librarian at Stinson LLP and co-chair of the Content Advisory Council. “We want to assess what we have in key content areas and consolidate access to what has been created.”

SLA’s Membership Recruitment Task Force, which was created by SLA’s Board of Directors and charged with reaching new and untapped audiences of potential members, has developed several recommendations, including creating a new-member portal on SLA’s website that would feature content and a “road map” specifically for new members. The road map would help new members understand how SLA is structured and what it has to offer and provide guidance on how to engage with fellow members and learn new skills and information.

“We really strongly believe that good recruitment efforts start with SLA showing its support of new members,” said task force chair JonLuc Christensen, records management specialist and lead FOIA liaison at the NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We want people to feel that when you join SLA, you’re going to be robustly supported from Day 1.”

To learn more about these and other committee, task force, and advisory council initiatives, visit the SLA Learning Hub and view the recording of the Mid-Year Forum.

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