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DC/SLA Recognizes Alicia Pappas & Lois Ireland at Annual Meeting & Holiday Party

DC/SLA Recognizes Alicia Pappas & Lois Ireland at Annual Meeting & Holiday Party

By Kari Anderson, Awards Committee

Over 50 DC/SLA members gathered at the CEB Waterview last Thursday to catch up with old friends and to celebrate another great year in the world of special libraries.

The food was fantastic and the view of the city from CEB was magnificent, but the real highlight of the evening was when the group honored two of its most outstanding members.

The Member of the Year Award is given to a chapter member in recognition of outstanding contributions to the chapter, public service activities, assistance in professional development promotion of special librarianship or publication of a professional paper.

The Awards Committee presented the 2016 Member of the Year award to Alicia Pappas for her outstanding contributions to the chapter. It can best be described as jumping in with both feet and making a splash. A member of the chapter since 2012, Alicia became membership director for the 2014 association year, focused on raising awareness of the value of SLA membership not only to the library community but also to the people we work with daily. During her tenure, DC/SLA certainly held its own as one of the largest chapters in the association. As a member of the 75th Jubilee Task Force she organized the gala, not a small task. She is currently serving as the chapter treasurer, which is no small commitment in any circumstance but particularly so for a chapter as large and active as ours is. She believes in seeking out ways to give back to the community by sharing her knowledge and passions, well and truly demonstrated by her service to the chapter and the profession.

The Board of Directors Award is given to an individual or group who may or may not be a member of the D.C. Chapter in recognition of special achievement or contribution to the field of special librarianship.

How do you define “special achievement” in a group of already special achievers? The committee is delighted to recognize Lois Ireland for just that. She has worn a number of hats within the chapter, all of which served particularly well to advance recognition of the value of special librarians and librarianship. In addition to serving as a chapter director, she was chapter president for the 2012 association year – this is a three-year commitment, so you really have to mean it, and the president-elect was responsible for all of the chapter’s events throughout the year. As chapter president, she focused on applying her skills making connections to how people, members and nonmembers alike, connected with the association and with each other. Demonstrating real dedication to the chapter by her willingness to do it again, she is currently the program director. Throughout, she has recognized and emphasized the incredible value and importance of volunteering her skills and services. This spirit of giving back is well demonstrated by her service to the chapter, the association and the profession, and for this we are delighted to recognize Lois with the Board of Directors award.

Photos from the holiday event:
2016 Annual Meeting & Holiday Party

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Ruth Fine and the Bureau of Budget Library – Uncovering Special Library History

By Rick Kowalski, DC/SLA Communications Secretary

A professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recently uncovered the history of a little known federal library and subsequently the story of its influential head librarian, Ruth Fine.

Mordecai Lee, Professor of Urban Planning at UWM, came across Fine’s story while investigating the history of the Bureau of the Budget library, which served the executive office of the United States from the 1920s to the 1970s. (This government agency eventually became the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)). The library no longer exists, but Fine’s accomplishments and her role in special library history are notable.

In Information Is Power: Women as Information Providers to the President’s Budgeting Men; A History of the Bureau of the Budget Library, 1940-1970 (Public Voices Vol. XIV No. 2, p. 86), Lee credits Fine with giving her library a definitive mission (and sticking to it), being proactive in delivering reader services, and growing the collection from 10,000 volumes to nearly 130,000 in the course of her career. Lee also notes her involvement in many of DC’s professional library associations, including our chapter of SLA. In fact, Ruth Fine was president of DC/SLA from 1952-1953 and led other chapter committees throughout her career.

According to Lee:

“Fine’s career represented three important hallmarks. First, she led the rebirth of a permanent and invaluable information support center for an elite presidential agency. She had molded an institution that has outlived her. That is a demonstration of the success of her work. Second, her long and successful career also represented an historical era, the opening during FDR’s presidency of federal careers to Jewish professionals, who up until then had been largely excluded due to invisible restrictions and quotas, given the overt anti-Semitism which was socially acceptable in the 1930s. Third, Fine represented the era when women professionals often had to sacrifice marriage and family in order to have a career in their chosen profession. It was – cringingly – the era of the spinster librarian. Despite such adversity, she succeeded and overcame institutional, religious, and gender obstacles. Her accomplishments indicate skills as a librarian, as a public manager, and as a leader in her profession.”

Further, her legacy has lasted to this day:

“Without any immediate family (still “Miss” at her death) and having outlived most of her contemporaries, no obituary or death notice appeared in the Washington Post. Her will demonstrated how central government librarianship had been to her: it had been her whole life. Fine’s estate designated substantial donations to three library groups. She donated $200,000 to her alma mater, the University of Michigan’s School of Information, to endow a scholarship in the name of her parents. The scholarship was intended to promote the student’s commitment to public service. Fine also donated $264,000 to the SLA for a scholarship fund and a similar amount to the District of Columbia Library Association for no-interest loans to low-income graduate students seeking library careers in the Washington area. The funds continue to grant awards to this day (2014).”

I encourage you to read the full article. It’s not often that we get a chance to reflect on special library history. The article provides a glimpse of a different era in our profession’s history, and it pays tribute to the importance of Ruth Fine’s dedication and leadership.

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Congratulations to DC/SLA Award Winners: George Franchois, 75th DC SLA Jubilee Task Force

Congratulations to DC/SLA Award Winners: George Franchois, 75th DC SLA Jubilee Task Force

By Marie Kaddell, DC/SLA Awards Committee Chair

The DC/SLA Awards Committee is honored to be able to present the selections for the 2015 DC/SLA Board of Director and Member of the Year awards.

Selection for the DC/SLA Board of Director Award: George Franchois

George has been consistently active in SLA and the broader information professional community at the local and national level. He is the immediate Past Chair of SLA DGI and was also the Division’s Director of Planning for 4 years. He is the current Chair of the FEDLINK American Indian Libraries Working Group. He was a member of the FEDLINK Education Working Group Advisory Board from 2006 to present. He was also on the FEDLINK Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012. He won the FEDLINK Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions of service, support and leadership to the federal library information network community in 2013.

Even in his work as Director of the Department of the Interior Library, George is always developing ways to reach beyond the walls of the library to inform in new ways, such as the DOI Library’s National Park Service Speakers Series, open not just to their employees but also the public. George has also authored a number of professional articles. George is an SLA and ALA member.

George’s active dedication to his profession on so many different levels and his willingness to engage consistently in so many different ways to make a contribution to our field have resulted in a remarkable level of service to his profession.

awards1Selection for the DC/SLA Member of the Year Award: The 75th DC/SLA Jubilee Task Force – Sharon Lenius, Eileen Deegan; Chris Vestal; Layla Heimlich; Deena Adelman; Zeinab Mansour, Alicia Pappas, and Stacey Redick.

The 75th DC/SLA Jubilee Task Force took on a unique and complex task in the history of the Chapter. This team developed and coordinated a sweeping series of programming, events on the local and national level, solicited contributions from Chapter members such as the Reflections articles, created a Jubilee VIP program, executed a branding initiative complete with the development of a logo, and curated a digital exhibit for the 75th DC/SLA Jubilee.

Some significant highlights include a heavily attended East Coast Chapters Reception at SLA 2015 in Boston, a DC/SLA Past President Curated TED Talks program, a skills gap panel featuring experts representing area LIS, iSchools and SLA, a scavenger hunt at the Smithsonian, and an important program focusing on World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk. Also of note, the series of Reflections articles showcasing member’s DC/SLA experiences which provided a very personal perspective by individual Chapter members.

The efforts of the 75th DC/SLA Jubilee Task Force spanned multiple years and had many moving parts. It required vision, strategy, and consistent collaboration and outreach. The task force has brought awareness of DC/SLA to the broader SLA membership as well as the local community, provided opportunities for seasoned DC/SLA members to connect with recent grads and library school students, drawn members to participate in fresh ways, and created a 75th DC SLA Jubilee year that reflected the remarkableness of DC/SLA and its membership in the process.

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Thank You To Our 2015 DC/SLA Volunteers!

Thank You To Our 2015 DC/SLA Volunteers!

Richard Kowalski, DC/SLA Communications Secretary

DC/SLA’s activities would not be possible without the many volunteers in our community. This year we were lucky to have the support of over 80 volunteers who put in time and effort to help make this chapter a vibrant and strong network of information professionals. On behalf of the DC/SLA Board, I would like to say THANK YOU to the following individuals who helped out in 2015, in one way or another.

For those of you who want to get involved in 2016, send a note to volunteer@dc.sla.org. There are ample opportunities to contribute.

Carol Abrams
Deena Adelman
Rebecca Aftowicz
Dr. Denise Agosto
Kari Anderson
Susan Antos
Drew Barker
Dr. Diane Barlow
Paul Boccaccio
Peggy Braly
Robert Bryan
Anne Caputo
Jaquiline Chapman
Laura Choyce
Eileen Deegan
Blane Dessy
Leia Dickerson
Claire D’mura
Dr. Kathel Dunn
Diane Falk
Lila Faulkner
Jon Fiencke
Jessica Fomalont
Lillian Gassie
Jenny Gelman
Lena Gomez
Michael Gruenberg
Suzanne Grubb
Morgan Grimes
Layla Heimlich
Wendy Hill
Ramona Howerton
Raisa Ionin
Lois Ireland
Karin Johnsrud
Michael Jourdan
Marie Kaddell
Kathy Kelly
Kelly Knight
Rick Kowalski
Julia Leggett
Sharon Lenius
Elizabeth Lieutenant
Mariana Long
Jill Lynch
Tracy Maleef
Beth Maser
Zeinab Mansour
Lily McGovern
Jennifer McMahan
Hannah Miller
Lyle Minter
Victor Monti
Greta Ober
Norma Palomino
Alicia Pappas
Amber Paranick
Chalres Perkins
Asheleigh Perry
Karen Reczek
Stacey Redick
Dawn Reinhardt
Abigail Ellsworth Ross
Samuel Russell
Gretchen Sauvey
Kerry Schork
Dave Shumaker
Megan Smith
Lois Steinberg
Mary Talley
Maggie Turqman
Julie Vaselopoulos
Chris Vestal
Elaina Vitale
Malea Walker
Connie Wiley
Lynora Williams
Amanda J. Wilson
Ming Wong
Jenny Wood
Everett Woods
Jan Zastrow

[Photo credit: Jen Collins, Thank You, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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SLA Presidential Candidates Share Their Thoughts On The Future Of The Association

SLA Presidential Candidates Share Their Thoughts On The Future Of The Association

DC/SLA held a “Meet the Candidates Happy Hour” recently, where the spotlight was on SLA presidential candidates Karen Reczek and Dee Magnoni. Dee and Karen agreed in advance that they wanted to talk to the group about four topics regarding the future of SLA. After some yummy appetizers and libations at Continental Pool Lounge, we took our conversation outside due to the noise level in the place. Karen and Dee wanted to be able to hear and be heard! They took turns sharing their thoughts and they listened to member feedback and questions. The four topics were:

In an effort to summarize the discussion, the candidates were kind enough to write up their thoughts on these topics. These are sure to be common themes in the upcoming September Board of Directors election. You can see the candidates’ answers to other questions here.

Topic 1: SLA’s Competencies and Professional Development

Dee Magnoni:
Do. Learn. Repeat. Professional development has been a core focus of mine from my earliest involvement in SLA. I began with chapter programming and a member survey, understanding that member feedback and engagement is critical to success. I twice served on SLA’s Professional Development Advisory Council, once as chair. When SLA’s Competencies were revised in 2003, I was one of the authors, and I blogged about their importance this past February. Once again the competencies are being revised, and I urge every SLA member to take part. Applying skills-based development in the workplace is a strategic management tool. This year I pulled together a team within the Los Alamos National Lab Research Library to analyze competencies and apply them across our team. We are taking two approaches. First, by creating a competency grid, staff members will be able to gain depth in a competency by working their way across the grid or they may learn a new competency by working down the grid. Second, by creating a staff competency database, new teams can be formed using a skills-based approach. My focus on development continues. I am the current professional development chair of the Leadership and Management Division. I am also chairing the Volunteer Experience Task Force (VETF). When putting together an August webinar on mentoring, I decided to crowdsource speakers. The result is a fantastic line-up of a dozen speakers and participants who will share vignettes and how-to’s in a rapid-fire, high impact format. Through the VETF we’ve decided to turn this into a series: Voices of the Information Professional. Once again I’ll be reaching out to members to find topics, volunteers, speakers. Together we take action, we learn, we repeat.

Karen Reczek: I will generalize, and say, as a profession, we struggle to articulate our value. I believe our competencies are what distinguish us from other employees in the workforce.  Our competencies are our value-add. As we know, the SLA Competencies document is from 2003 and is in desperate need of an update. I am thrilled to know that DC’s very own David Shumaker has stepped up to lead this Task Force that has been struggling for a few years with the “latest revision.” I strongly believe that SLA’s professional development opportunities should be tied to those competencies. LMD has been trying to take that approach with the existing competencies document and applying relevant skills to the Leadership & Management Division (LMD) conference sessions, and webinars.  I would love to see every SLA webinar, program slot and continuing education course be tied to developing a critical competency. If it doesn’t map, then maybe we shouldn’t offer it.

Topic 2: SLA changes and how to engage members as we move forward

Dee Magnoni: On a recent Board of Directors’ call, a Roadmap for engagement and change was approved. Directors urged members to roll up their sleeves and help move the roadmap and the Association forward. How can we do this? What first steps can be taken? The May release of the recommendations from the change consultants launched a debate amongst members and units that has rarely been paralleled in SLA history. Members shared views across lists, and chapters and divisions created responses and plans. I published my own early plan on my blog, and provide an outline of my vision in the final question. Building on this initial momentum, members and units can now consider specific questions. What business models should we consider? What are their pros and cons, and are there hybrids that might work for regions or subject areas? What pilots can be tried? At what level? The chapter? The division? The caucus? Across the Association? What about the conference? From my chapter visits I know that our members have forward-looking, creative ideas. Gather ideas to specific questions. Choose a few to pilot. Experiment, then implement successes. Continue with pilots in other areas. The Volunteer Experience Task Force (VETF) that I chair polled Cabinet members on priorities and directions. The response was phenomenal, and the taskforce will be working with members on stated priorities. This same cycle of engage, pilot and implement should be paralleled at the Board and Association level. Yes, SLA is at a critical time in its history. Specific answers to financial questions must be found sooner rather than later. Our finance committee is hard at work in this area, and is considering every aspect of the budget and the sale of our building. In the past, units have voluntarily supported specific financial initiatives of the association. We are seeing similar offers of support once again. Beyond the finances, we need to work toward a business model that represents our core values and our core uniqueness. I contend that our strength and our uniqueness are in our units. Membership is largely driven by areas of expertise and geographic locations. Let us work together to define the business model that supports this many-units to many-members structure.

Karen Reczek: I think there are two things vital to SLA turning itself around.

1) Support from its members – their ideas, reactions, and contributions. I can’t help but feel we are not very good at having the difficult conversations. In the Board Roadmap report it was noted that the Consultants’ report seems to have gotten this much needed conversation started. 2) SLA needs a better process for the intake of member ideas, for the input of member feedback, and for making decisions that are consensus based. I have spent a lot of time recently communicating and educating forensic practitioners on the US documentary consensus standards development process. It’s a process that brings a variety of stakeholders together and makes them agree on “something.”  Consensus doesn’t mean unanimity but means that people can “live with it.” I think SLA has a lot of passionate stakeholders. We need a better process to reach consensus. I say that – without a solution. But I have been thinking about it a lot!

Topic 3: What is your leadership philosophy?

Dee Magnoni: My leadership philosophy stems from my engagement with SLA and with community organizations, and through my work experience. I am mission-driven, and tie the work of my group or unit to that of the organization and the needs of its customers or members.  I learned early on that people want to be part of a solution, and will work hard toward organizational success when they help create the plan. I am an open leader. I want to hear ideas. At Los Alamos any of my 30+ staff members can come to me with their thoughts and feedback. If I were to close my door I would miss the heartbeat of the organization. I am a communicative leader. Communication is key to trust. In addition to an open door for my staff, I communicate back to them through team leaders, group messages and staff meetings. Over the course of this year, as a Board candidate, I visited several chapters and made site visits to hear perspectives and concerns, and to share ideas. I am inclusive; I look for partnership opportunities and build relationships. Several times during visits I heard about the importance of mentoring. SLA had a mentoring list years ago that I started as part of a diversity initiative. With the help of SLA staff I re-instituted the list, and sent an invitation to the Leadership list and to all past Rose L. Vormelker award winners. The list grew to more than seventy members in less than two months. Volunteers from the list will be working together to present a mentoring webinar in August. I am a responsive leader. I listen, then do. I imagine with a group, then create. I chair the Data Working Group at Los Alamos, made up of Lab data stakeholders — from big science, small science, high performance computing, IT, finance, to the research library and beyond. When we convened in August 2014, I held a brainstorming session for ideas. We then prioritized ideas, and created subgroups for the chief priorities. These subgroups created mandates and implemented projects. As we head into year two, we will evaluate progress and set new directions. I like to learn the lessons of other industries and apply creative solutions to current challenges. The taxi industry, for example, is being turned on its head through Uber. What lessons does this many-to-many business model hold for SLA? What ideas do you have to share?

Karen Reczek: I believe a good leader has:

  • Having a vision and being able to communicate that vision is critical. You need to inspire and motivate around a shared sense of purpose.
  • Communication is still a top-rated skill when it comes to leadership effectiveness. All relationships thrive with clear and regular communication.
  • The Ability to Create Value. A good leader adds value and making those around them better. What do you have to contribute? How do you create value for your organization?
  • Comfort with Ambiguity. Some say change is the only constant. The ability to navigate change – and handle ambiguity – is a critical skill for today’s leaders.
  • The ability to work effectively with others is important to good leadership. Today, leaders might benefit from thinking of themselves as being in the center of a web rather than on top of a pyramid. Lead by influence, not by command.
  • A good leader needs to able to navigate the formal and informal influences. Leaders must listen and take in both the negative and positive opinions, and ensure that all stakeholders feel heard. A good leader will aim to reach consensus, accept that this is not always possible, but continue to strive for it.

Ruth Kneale shared a recent article from Forbes with the SLA Open Board. The article was called Leadership is in crisis management mode by Glenn Llopis.  There isn’t enough room here to share the main points, so I encourage folks to read it, as it speaks to some of the current challenges confronting SLA leaders.

Topic 4: Vision for the future

Dee Magnoni: Looking at the broad business landscape, I see disruption in many centralized businesses and industries. An old business model is taking new form. Micro businesses are working through centrally branded platforms to connect to their customers. Examples? Look no further than:

These many-to-many infrastructures each offer products or services that customers want. We can apply this model to SLA. Our units offer volunteer opportunities, networking and professional development to their members through the SLA brand and platform. Many join SLA for a specific division or geographic region. SLA is benefiting from its units, as the units benefit from SLA. This synergy is critical, and must be remembered in planning. Our international outreach and impact succeeds through the initiatives of our global members, our staff, and our vendor partners. All members benefit from this broad perspective, and once again we must remember this strength as we create our future association. The financial infrastructure of many-to-many businesses should be modeled and considered for SLA. Turning from our member and unit structure, SLA’s dues structure is another core discussion that must be opened and thought through. One idea is to flatten our current tiers. This would, indeed, simplify our current structure. I contend that we should consider adding options to our tiers. For example, many members join several divisions. Why not offer a “museum pass” model where five divisions can be joined for the price of three? The core division would receive the full allotment, and sub-divisions would receive a partial allotment. What of our organizational memberships? Are they delivering value to information centers and employees? Let’s investigate this option and its benefits. Some members work across a number of industries, travel broadly, and are just plain curious. Let’s create the Golden Ticket. This super category would include membership to every chapter and division, along with other distinct benefits. SLA’s annual conference generates its largest revenue. Is the current model for soliciting programming still working? Are we getting the most cutting edge work from our emerging voices? How do we find them? As one DC member suggested, let’s turn conference programming into a competitive evaluation process. What tools would we need to accomplish this change? Let’s work together to explore this and our many other ideas for SLA’s future.

I want to thank the Board and members of the DC chapter for the opportunity to visit, to listen and to share ideas that will help us create SLA’s future.

Karen Reczek: I see a future SLA that has:

  • Greater transparency
  • More business rigor
  • Improved communication with members
    • Maybe, SLA should establish Ombudsman roles?
  • Implemented partnerships with other organizations/international orgs who share our “mission” and values
  • Established a non-paid advisory board of non-information professionals (marketing, IT, CEOs, researchers, etc.) to bring a fresh outside perspective.
  • Explored new revenue streams, new services, etc. through pilot projects and prototypes and then iterations to improve them; Pilots that will have been tested on small target groups and “debugged” before wider release.
  • Identified other conference themes or events to attract a broader market
    • SLA could partner with media or innovation lab e.g., like when we were in Boston, there is the MIT Media Lab. This could be a “be the first to know” type event, a must see! Come see the next best thing! We could have entrepreneurs showcase new technologies and keynotes from these companies/orgs. They might even pay us to let them participate.

Most of all, I see a future SLA that is more responsive to its changing environment than it has been in the past. An association that is ready to pivot as soon as the data shows it’s necessary. One that is continually identifying new business opportunity gaps. I see an SLA that continues to bring value to its members.

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