Candidates for the SLA Board of Directors have been asked to answer questions on the SLA Blog until election time. My response to the fourth and final question has been published, along with those of my fellow candidates. I’m copying it below.
I encourage all SLA members to vote in September, it’s one of the most important privilege, and benefit, of your membership.
Question #4: SLA is an international organization. How can SLA involve and reach out more to members outside North America?
Expanding the membership of SLA outside North America represents a golden opportunity for growth and diversity for the association. Information knows no time zone nor border.
International members bring diverse experiences, solutions and viewpoints to issues that are, frankly, universal, and support the development of new solutions. However, to develop a bond, we must create value for international members for without it, they will have no incentive to join and stay.
First, let’s simply ask. We should poll our current members outside North America and ask what SLA could do to help them remain in the association and recruit new members.
Next, let’s recognize our international members. Let’s keep in mind their presence.
We should make the involvement in divisions, chapters and caucuses by members outside North America easy and encourage them to participate. I think it’s probably at the division level that members can experience the full range and the full diversity of SLA. There are no geographic limits as membership is based on discipline or interest. Let’s support the divisions in internationalization efforts. It’s a wired world. Let’s make use of webinars and communication tools to encourage their participation. Time zones must be considered. Professional development programs should be recorded and replayed. Hopefully soon, our new calendar will be up full-speed and will contain all unit events. A unified archives of presentations would be useful to all members.
Members outside North America can easily participate in leadership positions, professional development and networking. Let’s give extra support to the international pioneers in our organization. They will recruit our next wave of members.
Speaking of tools, much of the world leads North America in the use of smart phones and other mobile devices. Let’s make sure our systems and documents work well on such devices.
We should ensure more international speakers at the annual conference and more programs that share what’s on the cutting edge in information centers and libraries outside North America.
Finally, let’s make sure we truly embrace an international outlook and be open to diversity. We already do with the products and services we purchase, the vendors we work with. It should be the same with our colleagues and peers. We need to remember that social and business etiquette differ around the world and be prepared to adapt to different cultures.
I look forward to the day where we will stop making distinctions between North American and international members, but will just name ourselves an all-encompassing “SLA members”.
Indeed, nous sommes SLA!