Business Law

Message from the President: Theme and Goals for a New Year, a New Decade, and a New Century

Leigh Hallingby, SLA NY Chapter President |

Thank you so much for entrusting me with the office of President of SLA-NY for 2010. I am especially honored to be the first Chapter President of a new decade (2010) and even a new century (SLA’s 101st year).

Each President usually selects a theme for the year, and mine for 2010 is "Forging a New Identity." I was actually originally inspired to choose this theme by our 2009 Centennial Year program meetings, so capably planned by Carol Ginsberg. The programs focused on various aspects of New York.

  • Opportunities: Diversity in a challenging job environment
  • Psyche: Managing change.
  • Legal: Prosecuting the Gottis.
  • Economic: Layoffs and their consequences
As varied as these programs were, there was actually a theme that I thought emerged. At the February program, Professor Michael Tushman spoke about change and resistance to change by corporations. He gave the wonderful example of how the Swiss watch manufacturers resisted the introduction of quartz crystal watch technology when it arrived in the 1960’s even though it was fantastically accurate and amazingly inexpensive. Why did they resist it? Because Omega and other Swiss companies made elegant gold watches for high end customers. In other words, low-priced quartz crystal watches did not fit in with their identity.

For the May program the speaker was Louis Uchitelle of The New York Times, who shared insights from his 2006 book, The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. One of his main points is that layoffs can be devastating for many workers because people’s identity is so tied up in their jobs and careers. So there was the all-important word I-word again, this time in reference to individuals, rather than to corporations.

So the theme of Identity seems to me to fit perfectly with where we have just been in our Centennial year 2009. And it also fits perfectly with where our profession in general and SLA in particular are going – in three ways.

First, with so many information professionals laid off and so many libraries closed down, I think it is safe to say that our profession is undergoing an identity crisis and transformation. These have been provoked in large part by the technological revolution and then exacerbated significantly by the Great Recession. Employment opportunities that have existed for librarians and information professionals for decades have now too often vanished. Fortunately new opportunities have emerged in areas such as information architecture and content management, but not necessarily as many and as quickly as needed, and we are not necessarily all prepared to transition into these kinds of positions.

Second, on the Association level, SLA has invested in the Alignment Project and is building a new identity for the 21st Century. Even without a name change, SLA will have a game change.

Finally on the local level, SLA-NY is rethinking its identity by developing a new Strategic Plan for the next three years and is planning to roll that out this year. Thanks to Winter Shanck and Steve Kochoff for chairing this effort. Chapter members are invited on the website to add their ideas for the Strategic Plan.

As I have thought about my specific goals for the year, I have come up with quite an ambitious list.
  • To keep the momentum from our Centennial Year 2009 going
  • To offer as much support and assistance as possible to our members in transition
  • To re-energize some of our divisions and create some new ones such as Academics, Competitive Intelligence, and Knowledge.
  • To offer a series of sessions on parallel careers that information professionals can pursue in areas that we might not have thought of previously.
  • Provide support from SLA-NY for members who could not otherwise do so to attend the Annual Conference.
  • Increase SLA-NY scholarship support to students at library and information science schools in the NY metropolitan area.
  • Re-establish the SLA-NY newsletter as a regular online publication of the Chapter.
  • Complete a new SLA-NY Strategic Plan, including Mission and Vision statements.
  • Redesign the SLA-NY website.
Finally, President Elect Pam Rollo is interested in ways to help us be bolder information professionals who will explore new ideas and then test, propose, and sell them to our employers.

Although this list sets a high bar for 2010, I am hardly alone in working my way through the list. SLA-NY has a great Board (Pam Rollo, Nancy Baldwin, Carol Ginsberg, Michelle Dollinger, Janet Peros, Winter Shanck, and Lynn Schlesinger). Also, the Chapter has a terrific Advisory Committee of volunteers to fill all the Chair positions. I look forward to working with the Board and Advisory Committee as well as with many of our individual members to make 2010 a productive and rewarding year and to check off as many of the above items as possible. We on the Board always welcome input and feedback from our members along the way to fulfilling our goals.

I look forward to getting to know as many of you as possible in the process.

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