The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is an international organization of professional librarians and information specialists who serve industry, business, research, educational and technical institutions, news media, law firms, museums, government, and all other public and private organizations requiring or providing specialized information. The Association's vision is to be known as the leading organization in the information industry -- a catalyst in the development of the information economy, and a strategic partner in the emerging information society.
The Association was formed in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1909 in response to the need for an organization devoted to the unique problems and interests of librarians employed by expanding businesses and industries. Its membership grew in size during the next three decades; and with the advent of World War II, scientific and technical librarians and information specialists became increasingly numerous in its ranks. The Association was incorporated in Rhode Island in 1928 and in New York in 1959. From a group of forty charter members, SLA has grown to almost 14,000 in 1998.
Through its programs and publications, SLA constantly encourages its members and others to increase their professional capabilities and performance. Through the publication of the Association's official journal, Information Outlook , and its continuing education programs, members are kept informed of issues and technological advances which affect them as professionals.
SLA facilitates communications among its members through the Association's extensive network of chapters, divisions, and caucuses. The network has frequently been updated in response to members' needs. The Association and its members also cooperate with organizations that have similar or allied interests.
A Board of Directors elected by the members determines the policies and actions of the Association. The Board is assisted and advised of membership opinion by a Chapter Cabinet composed of all Chapter President s and presidents-elect and a Division Cabinet composed of all division Chairs and chairs-elect. The Association's Executive Director is responsible for administering SLA policy.
The Association President appoints committees to recommend policy and to plan the development of the Association's internal and external activities. The committees are concerned with such matters as awards, education, publications, consultation, and standards. In addition, the President appoints representatives to other organizations for consideration of matters of mutual professional concern.
The Association is organized geographically into chapters and provisional chapters in the major cities of the United States, and in Canada, Europe, the Arabian Gulf, and the Hawaiian-Pacific region. Chapters and provisional chapters elect their own officers, publish newsletters, and hold meetings during the year. Participation in chapter activities is one of the most gratifying aspects of membership in SLA. The organization of chapters and their activities are carried on within the framework of the Association's bylaws and policies as determined by the Association's Board of Directors. The Association receives direct impetus in many of its professional activities from the work and support of the chapters. In turn, chapters receive the benefits of an international body that fosters inter-chapter cooperation and collectively promotes the advancement of special librarianship and information services.
The formal relationship between the chapters and SLA is stated in Articles V and VIII of the Association's bylaws. Article V pertains to the functions and role played by Chapter President s and presidents-elect in the Chapter Cabinet. Article VIII relates specifically to chapters and defines the establishment, membership eligibility, bylaws, establishment of groups within the chapter organization, annual reports, funds, dissolution, and provisional chapters. The Bylaws are published in Who's Who in Special Libraries. The Association also publishes Chapter Guidelines.