Why I joined SLA and why I still belong (Question 1 for 2013 Candidates)

I’m Valerie Ryder, and I am a Candidate for Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect.

I first joined SLA in 1971 because SLA Fellow Mary Vasilakis told me to!  Mary hired me as an entry-level librarian at Westinghouse Energy Systems in Pittsburgh, PA.  Mary was (and still is) my mentor and friend throughout my career.  Her sound advice was to get active in SLA as my primary professional association.  Within my first five years of SLA membership I served as secretary of the SLA Pittsburgh Chapter and Chair-Elect, then Chair, of the Nuclear Science Division.  I learned about what is involved in planning the Annual Conference by serving on the local publicity committee for the 1973 SLA Conference in Pittsburgh and as Nuclear Science Division Program Planner for the 1975 SLA Conference in Chicago.  As a novice information professional I also practiced leadership skills in a lower risk environment than my workplace.

Most recently I have been involved in the SLA Philadelphia Chapter, where I was Employment Chair, Vendor Relations Chair, Director, President-Elect/Program Chair and currently am President.  Throughout my career, I have gained many professional contacts and formed long-lasting friendships with other information specialists in a variety of industries, libraries and locations through my SLA participation.

As my career progressed along a variety of paths – experienced librarian, records manager, office automation, knowledge management, competitive intelligence, international market research, solo librarian, library manager, digital libraries, independent information consulting – SLA remained at the core of my professional interests.  During different career stages I joined other professional associations to focus on information specialties that were not yet represented in SLA.  For a very brief period I even dropped my SLA membership to get more involved in one of the other information professional associations that was starting a chapter in Pittsburgh.  However, I rejoined SLA in 1992 because it provided the most avenues for professional development and career satisfaction.

I still belong to SLA because it continues to evolve as an information professional association.  Many of the specialties that I sought to find outside of SLA are now strongly represented within SLA as Divisions and Sections – competitive intelligence, knowledge management, records management, market research, solo librarianship, and information consulting.

I stay involved because SLA rejuvenates itself and grows – and in doing so, SLA provides me with opportunities to learn and grow as well.  As Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect, I would like to facilitate continual growth opportunities for SLA members and ensure that SLA meets the needs of future information professionals.

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