A New Value Proposition: Putting the ‘Y’ in SLA

Adventure. Convenience. Connectedness. A culture of access and sharing.

These may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of SLA, but they’re the attributes that matter most to the next generation of SLA members. So if SLA is to continue supporting the information profession, our value proposition must reflect these attributes.

That’s the argument advanced by Sarah Sladek, chief executive officer of XYZ University, a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations engage Generations X, Y and Z. Of these, Generation Y—those born in the 1980s and 1990s and sometimes called Millenials—will present perhaps the greatest challenge to associations, because they are turning away from the “ownership” behaviors of their Baby Boomer and Gen X predecessors and adopting access and sharing behaviors.

“Instead of working ever harder to own more, Generation Y seems to be changing the concept of ownership,” Sladek writes in the latest issue of Information Outlook. “They are open to the idea of sharing more and owning less, and technology is obliging them by enabling a new kind of connectedness and sharing.”

What does this behavioral shift portend for associations such as SLA? It means, Sladek argues, that associations must position themselves to serve their members instead of expecting their members to serve them.

“Associations tend to think of the membership experience as something that an individual pursues and that’s propelled by individual behaviors: paying dues, volunteering time and services, attending events, and so forth,” Sladek writes. “But the ‘sharing economy’ isn’t propelled by the concept of an individual buying into and serving an association. The sharing economy thrives on the mutual sharing of products and services to make each other’s lives easier, happier, and better.”

To read more of what Sladek has to say about Generation Y and what associations must do to attract them, click here.

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