Please share summaries of any meetings, events or alignment activities taking place (or that already have taken place within your Chapter or Division. Feel free to edit the page and add your information under your Chapter or Division name or add any flyers, invites etc. as separate attachments.
- Check out this blog post by D.C. Chapter member Bruce Harpham - http://bruceharpham.ca/?p=408
I have just done a blog post based on two fascinating articles on evidence based librarianship. Perhaps these kinds of studies could be collected together into an Alignment bibliography? I would also like to investigate - perhaps by surveying SLA members - how librarians have advocated within their organizations to get hired in the first place (e.g. Daniel Lee, SLA Board Member, convinced a consulting firm in Toronto that they needed a librarian and was thus hired - I would love to have an archive of those stories) or promoted.
- Heart of America chapter will have an article in their next bulletin titled, "What is so special about 'special librarians?'" using the 4 key messages provided by Janice and Gloria in June. The article will also offer members' personal examples of "You are special because the knowledge you develop gives your organization a competitive advantage."
Here is the e-mail recently sent to our listserv by our Alignment Ambassador:
In addition to serving as our chapter president through November, I am honored to be our Alignment Ambassador. This is a new position. What is
an Alignment Ambassador, and to what do we need to align?
I hope you have had the chance to read SLA President Gloria Zamora's "Info View" column in the July/August Information Outlook. Gloria has
issued a call to us to participate in making the changes necessary to ensure our professional organization's relevance for all of its members.
While an examination of a name change is part of the alignment effort, I hope that veterans of the last vote on a name change don't tune out.
Alignment is not just about changing a name, it's about changing the game.
We all have encountered the struggle to show our organizations the value that we bring to the table as information professionals. However, with
backgrounds coming from schools of library science, information science, business, and information technology (among others), we lack a common
language that covers ALL our members. We need to be able to provides a value statement that works across ALL our career situations. The SLA
alignment effort is about finding that common language that allows our professional organization to make real progress in furthering the
appreciation and understanding of the role of information professionals in various work environments.
The SLA alignment effort is a multi-year process. Already SLA has engaged Fleischman-Hillard, a major marketing and PR firm, to conduct
research and gather information on how stakeholders view our profession. The results of this research were presented at the 2009 Leadership
Summit, at a talk entitled "Positioning SLA for the Future," which is available at the following URL:
Note in particular slide #18, which shows how users' perceptions of priority roles differ from practitioners' priority for the same roles.
How can we use this data to change our profession, and how can we better align SLA to support the professionalism valued by our organizations and
Let me point out that this is the first time that SLA has done this kind of in-depth research to find out how stakeholders (including C-level
executives) perceive our profession. The research was conducted by a respected organization in the field of marketing and communications. We
should take advantage of the opportunity presented by this study to re-examine our perceptions and find ways to use this information to
change how we communicate within our organizations and to the public.
Please take some time to review this presentation. Throughout the fall, I will provide you more information about alignment, and how your
professional organization is working to engage you in changing the game. I'm sure you'll want to talk about this at our events and meetings, and
this e-mail list will also serve as a forum for asking questions and seeking answers. I look forward to this discussion!
ALIGNMENT OVERVIEW PRESENTATION TO MLIS STUDENTS & FACULTY AT ST. CATHERINE UNIVERSITY - MARCH 1, 2010 - Presented by Caralyn Champa
One of the SLA student group members in the MLIS program at St. Catherine University invited me to speak about the Alignment Project during a community event. I covered a fair amount of ground in the 30 minutes I had to speak. For example, I gave a brief introduction about SLA as an organization and the Alignment Project as one piece of the advocacy that SLA does for its members. After describing the research methodology and some of the key results and findings, I talked about a few case studies of how SLA members are putting the findings to work in their organizations using the profiles that appeared in a past issues of Information Outlook. I also included tips from Jim Tchobanoff, another Alignment Ambassador, about questions to consider when getting ready to implement the alignment research findings. The case studies and Jim's tips were well received (as judging by the nodding and note-taking of various audience members). I ended with some ideas about why this matters to MLIS students and left a few minutes for discussion. We didn't have much time for questions, since there was another presenter right after me, but Polly (the student who invited me) did a great job of describing her current role as a Library Administrator in a corporate setting, and how she made a case to her employer to transition her internship to a full-time position.
In case you'd like to see the presenation, here's a PDF version of the slides I used for this event. It was a great way to share information about the Alignment effort with a fresh audience, and I encourage other Alignment Ambassadors who have access to library schools to pursue similar opportunties.
SALON SERIES DISCUSSION "PUTTING THE ALIGNMENT RESEARCH TO WORK" - OCTOBER 27, 2009
We promoted this event on our blog (http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/slamn/2009/10/mn-salon-4-putting-the-alignment-research-to-work.html) and using the MN SLA list serv. Members from corporate and government settings attended, along with several local LIS students. After the event, we added an overview of the event's discussion to the blog to share the discussion with other members (http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/slamn/2009/10/overview-from-salon-4-putting-the-alignment-research-to-work.html). I found that it was quite useful to have a few handouts for the attendees to review during the discussion. The specific documents I used are mentioned in the blog post, and I've added the cover page I drafted for one of the handouts to this wiki in case you'd like to adapt it for one of your upcoming meetings. Good luck! --Caralyn Champa
PRESENTATION WITH GLORIA ZAMORA - SEPTEMBER 21, 2009
We were lucky to have a visit from Gloria Zamora recently. One of our member libraries in downtown Minneapolis invited others to attend an informal meeting to discuss the project with her. She later partnered with SLA Fellow Jim Tchobanoff to present the Positioning Information Professionals for Future Presentation and answer questions. There was enough interest that the chapter plans add a second "Salon Series" session where members can gather with one of the chapter Alignment Ambassadors to learn and discuss more. While it's nice to have an SLA executive or board member visit, you can team up with Fellows or others to do something similar. If you're a division or geographically spread out, maybe a live webinar and discussion would work.
SALON SERIES DISCUSSION OF ALIGNMENT PROJECT AND SETH GODIN'S TRIBES:
This event is part of a "Salon Series" where members gather to discuss a specific topic led by a guest speaker. Nearly 20 people attended this discussion of the book Tribes and the Alignment Project. President-Elect candidate Cindy Romaine helped to lead the discussion.
- , a couple of people were concerned that ideas for a new name were coming out of marketing and not from members. In response, several members said that they saw marketing or "evidence-based research" (C. Romaine) as a smart thing to do. Comments included:
"We're smart people, we recognize that our name isn't communicating our value so what's wrong with getting advice from experts."
"We shouldn't feel insulted or threatened by these findings or understanding what resonates with CEOs and other organizational leaders."
"Every product my company launches is tested with 'voice of the customer research' before it is rolled out."
"It makes sense to look outside of ourselves - otherwise we're guilty of navel-gazing or preaching to the choir."*
*Another way of phrasing this, in the words of a member who teaches library science "The alternative of marketing is navel-gazing or doing what we think without asking others - and how arrogant is that? This should be an externally focussed effort."
- Another member said that they felt that how we conducted ourselves and what we did professionally was more important than what we are called. The group generally agreed but also thought the name change was an important first step, "the tip of the spear" if you will. As an example, one member noted how the John Deere Information Center worked hard to align itself with the goals of each company VP and tied each project to a dollar amount that gave value back to the company. "Every piece of work done was actionable and measurable." (Forrester Research later did a report on the John Deere Information Center.) Other comments:
"If I were looking for a job now, I'm not sure I'd want to be called a librarian because it is too much work to show value with this title. It defines and limits you in a way that is hard to overcome. In my organization you show value by constantly being innovative."
- Several people in the group said they did not favor using the word "information" in the name - that it was too bland and general and used by too many other professions.
"The people I look up to in my organization are always taking risks - they fail much of the time but it doesn't matter because it's not a show stopper and eventually they succeed in big and important ways."
"Are we going to take a risk and galvanize behind something we believe in or are we going to play it safe?"
- : "If you want to know where you are going, if you want to know where you could go, close your eyes and imagine." This rather begs the question: After 100 years isn't it time to take a risk and see how far we can grow and go?
Here's an example of an interview process I've been posting to our Oregon Chapter listserv. Essentially, I pick an ORSLA member, ask them to read about the Alignment, and then follow up with a Q&A. So far I've been getting only positive responses to my posts about the Alignment, which is troubling me a bit. I'd like to get some alternate viewpoints posted.
Dear ORSLA members,
Over the past few weeks the Alignment Ambassadors have been sharing the research and resources the Alignment Project has produced to date (link). I hope it's been insightful and engaging.
Today I'd like to share reactions to the Alignment Project's findings from one of our fellow ORSLA members, LaJean Humphries of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt. LaJean is currently a Library Manager at Schwabe and has been in the profession for 23 years. Needless to say, she's witnessed a lot of change - and sees librarians as more important than ever.
LaJean, how would you describe what you do today?
I help people find the information they want/need.
I help people figure out what information they want/need.
I help people manage the information they receive/find.
I find information for people.
I proactively supply information to people.
I provide context to information.
I teach people how to do different kinds of research and how to evaluate what they find.
I evaluate information and information resources.
I determine the best information resources, in other words, the highest quality, most reliable, most reasonable price, most appropriate resources for my organization.
What are some of the significant changes you have experienced during your career? Does the Alignment Project speak to these changes?
Obviously the Internet and the birth of the World Wide Web as well as the personal computer are some of the most significant changes I've experienced. When I started as a librarian the Internet was only accessible by a few, primarily academicians. It was very cumbersome. Librarians used computers and computer systems primarily for cataloging and for Dialog searching. The first computers I used mostly didn't have monitors, they had little rolls of thermal paper and what you typed and received electronically was printed on the continuously rolling paper. There were no laptops. Some computers had monitors (characters appeared in orange or green) but it was an entirely different environment than what we have today. Of course, cell phones, Blackberries, etc. didn't exist.
The World Wide Web made the Internet accessible to most people. That has totally changed the way that people view information. Unfortunately, the proliferation of wikis, blogs, etc. has resulted in a proliferation of "junk." It's harder for people to find high quality, reliable, unbiased, information. That's why librarians are more important than ever. (You might enjoy "From Moses to Megabytes: A Short History of Online Information Access," College & Research Libraries News, December 1983, pp. 425-26.)
After taking some time to look at the Alignment Project's findings, do you think they relate to you and your professional goals? If so, how?
I think they probably relate to every practicing librarian. I think that's because librarians do a combination of physical and intellectual work. It's almost always easier to explain physical activity, cataloging, shelving, routing, than it is intellectual activity, evaluating, analyzing, synthesizing. I don't know that I agree that all librarians generally add value to information to "produce key intelligence and enable good decisions." Some librarians do that some times. It's not done all the time by any one. Should it be? Probably. Certainly it should be done more often than it is.
I could better explain what I do every day as I suspect most of us could. The profession clearly suffers from lack of a unified voice.
I do very much agree with the three mission-critical contributions:
• "unique knowledge regarding the information sources available and how they can best be used in your organization's unique setting;
• assurance that you are aware of the "newest and truest" sources of information and are making that information available to the organization; and
• best practices in the most efficient use of information resources."
I was quite interested under the "demonstrate your value" section to see that it is recommended to offer a case study instead of listing the number of requests you process. I have done that for years. I have been consistently berated by supervisors for not just providing the number of requests even though the case studies (in my opinion) demonstrate that what is done is more important than the number of requests.
Most of the non-professional people I know don't understand that "thinking" can be work. I see a growing divide between people who are intellectually oriented and people who are not intellectually oriented. It is even more critical than the divide between rich and poor.
From your perspective, where do you see the profession going in the next 10 years?
I have no idea where it's going. I don't know that I want to foresee the future. Right now I think the opportunities are limitless. It all depends on what we do with them.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Ranganathan's laws of library science are still (mostly) relevant although the "book" may be in different formats and the "book" might be a film, article, research study, or other piece of data or intelligence. I see our job (the librarian's role) as matching what's needed with the person who needs it (in some cases, whether they know it or not).
So, ORSLA members, after reading LaJean's insightful answers, how would you respond to the same questions? Let me know. Let's keep the conversation going!
Again, if you haven't had the chance to review the Alignment findings, check them out here. Have questions or comments? Feel free to send me a message:email@example.com
ORSLA Alignment Ambassador
We are just ramping up our activities now that the name change has been announced. We are aiming for a Tuesday, November 3d chapter gathering with pizza and drinks at Jupiter in downtown Berkeley (right next to the Berkeley BART station). Once we meet, I will follow up here with more info.
I have heard/read a range of reactions to the name. The Alignment Project has been going on for three years, but the name, of course, is the element that galvanizes people. I know from my global branding experience at Landor Associates that name/brand are very important and attention-grabbing. Yet, far more important to me is the Association's goal to provide the tools and resources we need to better express our value to our organizations. This is the part of the research and study that the Association has been diligent about and that I support wholeheartedly. It is not that the name is trivial. It is VERY important and it is what is on our plates to deal with now. I will be glad to see the "SLA" name go away. But I hope the members can move along to the other significant "brand driver" work we need to accomplish to keep this organization vital and growing.
I have let our members know about the SLA research and alignment sites for more info.
As for me...I am going to stick my neck out and say I like the proposed name. If it's adopted, I will call it A.S.K. Pros. As for the potty humor, I have endured plenty of jokes for being a DAM Librarian (Digital Assets Manager) and perversely enjoy the tee-hees.
SLA-SF Past President and Alignment Ambassador
UPDATE: On November 3, 2009, our chapter held a roundtable on the alignment process and SLA at a local pub.
- I had the opportunity to speak to the 'Special Libraries' class at Catholic University's Library School and talk about the value of professional associations, especially SLA. I've attached the presentation which included a lot about the alignment effort. Feel free to comment upon this presentation, reuse all or parts of it, and share your thoughts. http://wiki.sla.org/download/attachments/34701427/Value-of-association.ppt
- I recently posted this note to the FAN List-Serv (see below). It's based on what I know about branding from a corporate standpoint but I was hoping it would speak to a wider audience. There hasn't been much response from FAN members, but I know that it's been posted to a number of other SLA Lists.
What does a brand say to you? If I say "Would you like a Hershey's Kiss?" you know immediately what I'm offering; you might ask for an Almond Joy instead, but again, the language is clear and the brand has meaning.
Can we say the same about The Special Libraries Association dba. SLA? Quite honestly, if I have one more colleague from Hershey say to me "Oh, you're a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army"; I may just flex my 2nd Amendment right to bear arms! Obviously, I'm joking about the gun, because that would surely get me fired, but as an association, we are experiencing a bit of a brand name crises. Even Special "Libraries" doesn't describe us, but the space where we work...or the space where we once worked.
So while we are doing the work to ensure that we, Librarians, Information Professionals, Researcher, Analyst or whatever you call yourself, are positioned for the future, it seems like the appropriate time to also evaluate our brand name. A brand is a bit of a package deal...it's the name and the good or service behind the name. So let's do the work and have the tough conversations and hopefully when the smoke clears, we'll emerge as an association with a brand that is strong and meaningful not just to us but to our employers, customers and colleagues!
Over the next few months as the work on the Alignment Project progresses, I'll be acting as the Alignment Ambassador for FAN. I'll provide updates as I get them and am open to discussion on the alignment project. I can also take your feedback & comments to the other Alignment Ambassadors and to the Alignment Committee. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to email me.
Latest update on the alignment research: http://wiki.sla.org/download/attachments/34701754/Positioning+Info+Pros+for+the+Future.pdf
SLA Alignment Website: http://www.sla.org/content/SLA/alignment/index.cfm
Jennifer R. Cessna | Lead Information Research Specialist
The Hershey Company| 1025 Reese Ave Hershey PA 17033 | p: 717-520-8869 | f: 717-534-5069 | firstname.lastname@example.org
I am looking for an online home where PAM members can questions such as these.
1) What differentiates SLA from similar organizations (ALA, ARMA, ASIS&T, SAA, etc.)?
2) Do you want to be called a librarian?
3) How do you expect your position at work to change over the next decade?
4) Do you have difficulty explaining what you do to supervisors or why you are important to your organization?