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SLA 2011 Candidate Speech – Joint Cabinet Meeting

June 21st, 2011 12:39 pm | by Catherine Lavallee-Welch

At the SLA Annual Conference, candidates for the SLA Board of Directors were asked to answer two questions. The Division and Chapter Cabinet candidates presented their answers at the Joint Cabinet meeting. I’ve published my answers on the SLA Blog today. I’m copying them below.

Catherine Lavallée-Welch- Candidate, Division Cabinet Chair-Elect

Question #1 Tell us about yourself and your primary candidate message


Je m’appelle Catherine Lavallée-Welch et je suis candidate pour la position de Division Cabinet Chair-Elect.

I have been active in SLA since 2000, right after starting my first job in the US. I’m a member of the Academic, IT and Sci-Tech divisions and a member of the Baseball Caucus. My home chapter is the Florida and Caribbean Chapter. I’ve held several leadership positions in chapters and divisions, notably as the Chair of the IT Division and Secretary of the Sci-Tech Division.

I’m currently the Director of an academic library. In the past, I’ve been a records manager, an information broker, an entrepreneur and I’ve developed Internet projects for the non-profit and co-op sectors. I’ve worked in my native province of Québec, Canada, the US and in Europe.

I’ve always felt at ease with SLA because of my varied background. I like the mix of corporate, government, academic and other work environments. I think we can always learn from each other, even if our environments differ.

The international aspect of SLA is another big attraction for me. When the world is your territory, the potential for growth is just simply formidable.

I think Divisions have the potential to attract more members from outside North America and, that way, increase membership in SLA. Because, and this is not a dig at Chapters – I have warm feelings towards them – too, I think it’s probably at the division level that members can experience the full range and the full diversity of SLA. There are no geographic limits as membership is based on discipline or interest.

How could we attract those international members and get them more involved? What services could be of particular interest? What kind of special support do they need? Online professional development archives? Networking? How about some mentoring? I was talking two years ago with with a European member who, like me, is a French-speaking info pro who immigrated to an English-speaking country. We were discussing if a buddy system could be set up between members that have a similar cultural and/or language background. For example, French-Canadian members could mentor new members from France. American members of Hispanic origins with new members from South or Central America. Could that help develop the feeling of engagement?

I think Divisions are so important to SLA; I think it’s when you’re engaged at the Division level that the sense of belonging is the strongest. If elected as Chair-Elect of the Division Cabinet, I would like to work to solidify SLA’s position as a truly international association.

Question #2 The information industry is constantly changing (the players, the technologies, the information availability & needs, etc.). Living within this environment, SLA must be an agile organization able to adapt as the industry matures. What services/functions/features should SLA change and what absolutely must be preserved as we become Future Ready?

What an interesting question! And one that has far-ranging consequences for the Association!

What do members want from their professional association: traditionally, networking, training and career services.

Those needs might be different now because the sources of those services don’t necessarily have to come from an association. I can connect with other librarians through Facebook and Twitter. Multiple organizations and presenters are putting up webinars and slideshows online for free.

Well where is the opportunity for SLA? How to provide for these needs with an added value and in a Future Ready way?

For me, being future ready means being agile, being just-in-time, being open to change, being ready to learn, always.

I think for many years Divisions have been used to get a wide range of services and tools from HQ. Now that there are more financial, technological, environmental challenges, the association needs to be very strategic and flexible with which of those services, tools and functions it should offer. What gives the more bang for the buck?

It may be time for a certain change of relationship between the units and HQ. It may be time for the Divisions to become more involved, to become more of a partner for the association instead of just being a customer. In the long run, it can equalize us, unify us and strengthen the association as a whole if we partner on the things that really matters.

If you have attended the Leadership Development Institute, you have already heard other candidates talk about alternative models for the conferences. Can we look at the Leadership Summit as well? Can we make it virtual, with actual training for several board positions, which allow to reach not just the Chairs and Chair-Elects, but also the Treasurers, Secretaries, Webmasters, etc. those people who usually do not attend the Summit?

Divisions have already been active in professional development activities with online seminars or other events, sometimes in collaboration with other divisions, chapters and caucuses. This should be encouraged.

I’m a fervent user of social media and believe more emphasis should be given to those tools and to mobile technology. Should we still have listserves? Static lists of resources on our websites? A print magazine sent to every member?

The challenge is how to make SLA future-ready, like its members. And make it not only attractive, but irresistible. How do we make it meet the needs that our current members have *now* and, that way, attract new members at the same time. As Thomas Friedman said during his keynote address, let’s find our extra fruit.

Thank you, merci.

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