Way back what seems like ages ago, but is, in reality, only 3 weeks past, I was in Dallas for SLA’s 2013 Leadership Summit. Many thanks to the Texas Chapter for all of their hard work and their big Texas welcome! For those unfamiliar with the event, this annual meeting brings together the SLA Board, HQ staff, and chapter and division Presidents/Chairs and Presidents/Chairs-Elect to discuss the state of the Association, the challenges we face, and the plans for the road ahead.
This was my first Summit – my trip last year as President-Elect was cancelled at the very last minute due to some personal drama – so I was very excited to be able to attend this year. In spite of the fact that I spent two full days in a hotel conference room, it was a wonderful experience and I encourage anyone interested in getting involved in leadership positions with SLA, or who is just interested in the inner workings of the association, to attend. You do not have to be a current unit Board member to go. While there are obviously plenty of opportunities to meet people at the Annual Conference, the Leadership Summit provides a more intimate setting, bringing together folks with SLA-famous Twitter handles for the common goal of making our Association more vital and relevant to members and potential members everywhere.
Some of the highlights of this year’s Summit include:
In his Treasurer’s Report, new SLA Treasurer John DiGilio emphasized the “we are all one SLA” theme, and introduced specific plans for enhanced openness. He has started a new discussion list for unit Treasurers to more easily share information and ideas, and has committed to sending financial reports to unit leaders throughout the year. I will be sharing this information with the chapter as it arrives. John also reported that SLA broke even in 2012, and is projected to do so again in 2013. However, he noted an ongoing trend – over the last four years, SLA has managed to decrease expenses to keep in line with decreasing revenue, resulting in a balanced budget. This has led to some projects being deferred and, as we all know, a reduction in SLA HQ staff. They are running a very small, tight crew in Alexandria right now. There isn’t much fat left to cut, so the key issue going forward has to be bringing that downward revenue line on the graph back up. John also noted that 63% of SLA’s revenue comes from the annual conference, while conference expenses represent 43% of our outflow. So, everyone, register for the conference in San Diego!
SLA’s new Strategic Agenda was emphasized throughout the Summit. All leaders are being encouraged to consider how the decisions and actions we take in our chapters and divisions can support one of the five tiers of this program. For those unfamiliar with the agenda items, they include:
- Strengthening and Improving the Annual Conference
- Providing Professional Development Opportunities for Our Members Throughout the Year
- Creating Richer Volunteer Experiences to Help Members Develop In-Demand Skills
- Opening New Markets through Collaboration
- Growth through Diversification of Information Professionals
Your chapter Board and Advisory Council will be exploring ways to promote and incorporate these ideas into our chapter activities going forward.
Chris Zammarelli, Chair of the First Five Years Advisory Council, announced a plan to hold a focus group at the 2013 conference to explore what our colleagues who are newer to the profession would find helpful and meaningful through their association membership. Please contact me if you are a newish information professional attending the conference and you would like to participate, or if you know someone who should.
By far, the announcement that received the most excitement, demonstrated by frequent “oohs”, “aahs”, and applause, was the introduction of the new SLA web site. Built on WordPress, the new site not only reflects the unified design aesthetics adopted by the units under Operation Vitality, it also makes things <gasp> easier to find. The site is attractive, intuitive, and functional. Prompted largely by a suggestion made by our own Tony Landolt, the new web site will also feature an association-wide event calendar, allowing members to view the programs hosted by various units throughout the year. You can use the calendar to find webinars in which you’d like to participate, or possibly to find interesting programs to attend and SLA members to meet if you happen to be travelling to another chapter region. The new web site is currently set to launch in early April. I stopped holding my breath a long time ago, but now that I’ve seen what’s coming, I’m virtually breathless with antici. . . (say it, say it) . . .pation.
The Leadership Summit also serves as the official kick-off for planning the 2014 Annual Conference. The conference will be held in Vancouver (June 8-10, 2014), and the theme is Beyond Borders. More changes are in store as SLA explores various ways to make the conference even more relevant to members, including a variety of session time slots lasting 60, 90, and 120 minutes, and 15-minute “Quick Take” slots for hot topics. Three themes were also announced for further consideration by all divisions in spotlight sessions, Sunday: Embedded Information Services, Monday: Digital Content and Big Data, Tuesday: Leadership in the Human Age.
I represented the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter with a presentation on our chapter’s first foray last fall into charging for webinars. The extremely detailed procedures document written by Chris Orr, our Professional Development Chair, proved invaluable in developing the presentation, and the session was well-received. The detailed instructions, lessons learned, and issues to consider going forward seemed to be very useful for the units who have not embarked on this endeavor before. My presentation was also well-matched with that of Rachel Bates Wilfahrt, president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter. Since their chapter sponsored several webinars last year, it was nice to have the perspective of a unit with lots of experience to show what’s possible, as well as that of our chapter which still has our lessons learned so fresh in our heads. The slides from my presentation, as well as all of the other presentations from the 2013 Leadership Summit, are available here: http://www.sla.org/content/resources/leadcenter/LeadershipSummit/13leadsummit/slides.cfm. Note, member login is required for access.
Finally, last, but most certainly not least, the 2013 Fellows and Rising Stars were announced:
2013 Fellows: David Cappoli, Dennie Heye, Martha Foote, Mary Talley, Rebecca Vargha
2013 Rising Stars: Alyson Avery, Kendra Levine, Amy Sarola, Rachel Bates Wilfahrt, Aileen Marshall
A special shout out for San Francisco Bay Region Chapter member Kendra Levine, current Chair of the Transportation Division, for her recognition.
The Summit concluded with a look forward to San Diego, including the introduction of SLA’s “Get on the Beach” Recruitment Campaign, and the enjoyment of the always visionary musical stylings of Richard Geiger and Tim DeWolf. As you gear up to attend the conference, kick your excitement up to 11 with this rousing rendition of a Woody Guthrie classic! You can listen while you register!
By Anne N. Barker