Question #5 SLA Reaching Out Internationally

Jul 26, 2011 by

Candidates for the SLA Board of Directors will be asked to answer questions on the SLA Blog until election time. I’ve published my answer to Question #5 today. I’m copying it below.

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

Question #5 SLA is an international organization. How can SLA involve and reach out more to members outside of North America?

The SLA members outside North America represent an incredible opportunity for the association for growth and diversity. But it’s not a one-way street, our international members must find value in their membership; if not, they will leave the association.

Serving our international members is difficult; being a member of the quite unique Florida & Caribbean Chapter, I’m well-placed to see how tough it is to reach our own members who cover one US state and some other 25 nations and countries in our geographical area. It is one of the challenges our Chapter wants to tackle as a participant in the SLA Loyalty Project.

As I said during the Joint Cabinet meeting in Philadelphia, I think Divisions have a great potential to serve international members. There are no geographic limits and there is a commonality of disciplines and interests. At the Annual Conference, I talked about a buddy system between members that have a similar cultural and/or language background. This could be extended to others, members who have an interest in another culture and interested in creating a relationship with a colleagues from Asia, Europe, Africa or Australia and New Zealand.

Facilitating the involvement of members outside North America is also important. Awareness in regards to time zones would be welcome when it comes to scheduling webinars or committee work. Every presentation or webinar should be archived. Meeting minutes should be distributed quickly. If computer access is difficult, maybe a system for print copies is necessary or using document formats that work well with cell phones.

It must be hard to be in an area where you’re the only or one of the few SLA members around. Extra support – logistic, financial or other – might be necessary from the Association to help set up events, workshops and other activities. These are the front window of the Chapters and a great recruiting tool. SLA being one of the rare international associations for information professionals, its global aspects and networking opportunities should definitely be things that need to be highlighted.

Finally, the best way to involve members outside North America and answer their needs is to ask! Let’s ask them what would be helpful and beneficial for them to remain members and recruit new members.

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