Washington, DC Chapter

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It’s Time To Turn This Rig Around!

It’s Time To Turn This Rig Around!

By Blane Dessy, DC/SLA President-Elect

I am deeply honored to have been chosen as the President-Elect of the DC Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. At the same time, I am humbled in thinking about working with such a large and successful Chapter of SLA.  When I consider the many events, the hundreds of members, and large amounts of time and energy that constitute DC/SLA, I feel challenged to live up to the standards of current and former officers of the Chapter. Given that we’re also in an enormous time of transition for the Association, I hope that you can understand both my excitement and anxiety in accepting a management position in this great organization.

DC/SLA has always been one of the largest chapters in the entire Association and our members are among the leaders in our profession. All of us are lucky to be a part of DC/SLA and to work in a community that is so rich and diverse in its talent and resources. Each member of our Chapter brings  knowledge and perspective that can be helpful to others and that sense of comradery is one of our Chapter’s distinctive features.

We each need to make a commitment to ourselves, to each other, and to our Association that we will do what we can to keep our Chapter active and prosperous. We’ve seen a decline in DC/SLA membership and our membership roster is now half of what it used to be ten years ago. As President-Elect, I’ve been asked to devote my time to Chapter membership and determine what can be done to maintain and grow DC/SLA members.  I’ve done some research and I’ve met with the DC/SLA Chapter Board and here’s what we’re planning to do.


Between now and September, 2016, we are going to be encouraging each member ready for renewal to maintain their SLA and DC/SLA membership. We want to let our current members know that the Chapter is important to all of us and that we need continued commitment to move forward. At the same time, we will be looking at those individuals who have not renewed recently and will try to bring them back into the Chapter and the Association.

Beginning in the fall of 2016, we will be launching a larger membership drive to increase our Chapter numbers by a reasonable number. I don’t think that we can expect to double our membership, but I think that we should aim for a reasonable increase in our Chapter membership. Can we increase our current membership by 10% or so in this first year? Or is even 10% too ambitious for a first year effort? We’re not talking about a large number here, but I think it’s going to take a lot of us to raise that membership number. We will be working with SLA Headquarters to determine if we can create some financial incentives or rewards for new members in an effort to boost membership numbers.

The bottom line is this—we need to increase our Chapter membership to maintain the vibrant special library community we have in the DC area. We need current members to stay with us and to help recruit new members. We need new members to see the value of membership and to make a commitment to our professional association. So, I want to ask each one of you for your help. Can you recommit yourself to our Association and can you help to increase our membership? Please let me hear your thoughts about this. I know that this is never an easy job, but together we may be able to create a much brighter future for all of us.

Blane Dessy: PresidentElect@dc.sla.org

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President’s Message: Re-Engage with SLA!

President’s Message: Re-Engage with SLA!

By Beth Maser, DC/SLA President

Dear DC/SLA Members,

This is my first message to you as your President for 2016 and I wanted to reach out and encourage all of you to become “Re-engaged with SLA” this year. While there may be some turmoil going on at the national level of our organization, our chapter has always been one of the largest and most active within SLA and there should be no reason why that should not continue long into the future. Professionals like ourselves truly value the network and friendships we have been able to develop through the years through our connections at the local level. Many of us are in positions we never thought we would be in save for a chance meeting at a chapter event. The list goes on. We are still strongly invested in making sure our national organization stays intact, but at the same time, I stress the need to come together at a local level and allow the DC Chapter to grow in number as well as participation. This is a critical time in our profession and only by keeping the conversations and our programming active and participatory can we continue to thrive as an organization and as a profession.

To our seasoned volunteers I thank you for your continued participation and selflessness. To our new members or longtime members who have not been as involved with the chapter, I encourage you to attend just one event or meeting and bring in a new member to the chapter this year. If all of us can do either or both, think of how much stronger we can make our already strong chapter. The possibilities are endless. Living in DC, you all know that participation and voices matter. I much prefer a cacophony of sound over silence. There is so much collective experience within our membership and countless things that we can learn about and from each other if we listen and participate. Please consider this my personal invitation to “Re-engage with SLA” and allow us to continue to thrive as a valuable professional resource for you and our profession in DC.


[Photo Credit: “Engage Detroit” Steve Lietzau. CC BY 2.0. Adapted]

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President’s Message – Final Reflections

President’s Message – Final Reflections

By Deena Adelman, DC/SLA President


Before I summarize this year’s activities and share my final reflections, I want to thank ProQuest and Special Counsel for sponsoring our Jubilee, my company MacroSys for supporting my association involvement and providing board meeting space, and my husband Michael for his encouragement, patience, and willingness to travel with me to SLA events. And of course, most importantly, thank you to all of the members, including more than 80 dedicated volunteers. In particular, I want to thank the 2015 DC/SLA Board: Beth Maser (President-Elect), Chris Vestal (Past President), Ramona Howerton (Treasurer), Alicia Pappas (Treasurer-Elect), Claire D’Mura (Recording Secretary), Rick Kowalski (Communications Secretary), Layla Heimlich (Program Director), and Morgan Grimes (Technology and Innovation Director). They put in extensive time to make this year special and served as exemplary representatives of the chapter, including making sure the SLA Board received feedback from the chapter on the SLA Recommendations Report.

I also want to recognize George Franchois for receiving the DC/SLA Board of Directors Award, and the Jubilee Task Force, led by Sharon Lenius, for receiving the Member of the Year Award. You can read about the winners’ accomplishments here. Congratulations also to Blane Dessy (President-Elect), Jack Dale (Recording Secretary), Lois Ireland (Program Director), and Layla Heimlich (Sponsor Relations Director) on being elected to the DC/SLA Board, and to DC/SLA members Dee Magnoni (President-Elect), Mary Talley (Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect), Nicholas Collison (Treasurer), and Karen Reczek (Director) for being elected or appointed to the SLA Board.

Chapter Activities

This year DC/SLA created or co-sponsored more than 30 programs, with many organized by the chapter’s groups and committees, including the International Relations Committee, Military Libraries Group, Career Development Committee, and the Business Information Finders Group. We celebrated our 75th anniversary through programs such as TED talk discussions led by past-presidents, receptions at Leadership Summit and Annual Conference, a scavenger hunt at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and dinner and dancing at our recent gala (be sure to check out the photo booth pictures).  Members also learned about traits employers value, became informed about cultural heritage preservation efforts in the Middle East, discussed book club selections such as Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, and networked at happy hours.

For our 75th anniversary we offered a Jubilee VIP program, where members could pay $75 to cover admission to most programs and show their support for SLA. I was impressed not just that we ended up with 35 VIPs, but also the eagerness with which members wanted to be part of this program.

Our Communications Committee produced the monthly newsletter Chapter eNotes—keeping us informed about upcoming events, recaps of events, reflections, professional development opportunities, and tips, trends, and other resources from the information community. They also made use of other communications channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, including treating us to a month of can’t-live-without apps. The Archives Committee created a digital exhibit in honor of the 75th anniversary. DC/SLA was also the first chapter to begin testing the new communications and collaboration community SLA Connect.


Last year I announced that our theme would be “reflective momentum”—looking back, and within, in order to move forward with purpose. I called on members to write reflections of their experiences in SLA and 20 of you shared your inner musings, memories, inspirations, and what SLA means to you. Members expressed how they see SLA as a dependable, diverse, welcoming community that helps them grow personally and professionally, provides essential connections for job opportunities, pushes them out of their comfort zones, presents rewarding leadership opportunities, gives them confidence, encourages them to think innovatively and adapt to an evolving field, build lasting friendships, and of course have fun.

Now, I’d like to offer you my final reflections. What I have learned most since I became active in SLA is that DC/SLA members care. You care about helping each other, strengthening the organization, and making a difference in the greater information community. You demonstrate selflessness in the hundreds of volunteer hours you put in; you show generosity in going out of your way to help other members—whether through connecting someone to a potential job opportunity or providing resume feedback; you make sure to let chapter leaders and other volunteers know you appreciate their efforts; you express commitment in the time you take to provide input regarding organization changes and by serving on the SLA Board and committees. Much has changed since the chapter began 75 years ago, but I believe the constants are the dedication of its members and the value of the relationships formed. I am grateful I was able to lead the chapter in its 75th year and am proud to be part of such a great organization and work with such wonderful people who have given me the opportunity to grow and make a difference in others’ lives.

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President’s Message – Nurturing a Legacy

President’s Message – Nurturing a Legacy

By Deena Adelman, DC/SLA President

On November 7th, DC/SLA members came together for dinner, drinks, and dancing in celebration of the chapter’s 75th anniversary. A special thanks goes out to Alicia Pappas for planning the event. You can read her recap of the Jubilee Gala and see photos here. I was honored to be part of this event culminating decades of service and participation by members. The gala was a time to relax and let loose, as well as a reminder of the great legacy we all share and the closeness of chapter members.  As I spoke in front of everyone, I could see all the faces of the individuals who have nurtured my growth and so many others’ personal and professional development.

For sure, the members of SLA are the organization’s greatest asset, relentlessly devoting time in order to support the success of others. One of the best ways to connect with members is through volunteer opportunities. In Lois Ireland’s reflection this month, she talks about how she became active by hosting a dine-around and grew “to appreciate so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise crossed paths with in the course of my regular work and social life.” Sometimes all it takes is one event to get yourself going.

When I first became active in DC/SLA five years ago, I had no inkling that I would end up serving as chapter president. One of the great aspects of SLA is that members have the opportunity to start with small opportunities and quickly work their way into larger leadership roles. We are encouraged to push our boundaries, taking on sometimes unfamiliar yet rewarding responsibilities. SLA President-Elect Tom Rink notes in his reflection “Every time I have said ‘yes’ to SLA by agreeing to serve in some capacity or another, I have stepped outside my comfort zone to embrace an opportunity to grow and to give myself an opportunity to succeed.” Perhaps it’s also time for members to welcome the same philosophy for the organization as a whole, and let SLA find new ways to grow and thrive. I hope you will join me in supporting our SLA Board as it continues to address tough issues in the face of limited time and the challenge of trying to please everyone. We can be true to our heritage while remaining open to change.

Finally, we still have two events coming up that I encourage our members to attend. On November 19th the Military Libraries Group will present the program The Louisiana Maneuvers: A Nation Prepares for War and on December 15th we will finish off the year with our Annual Meeting/Holiday Party.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

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President’s Message – Shared Heritage and Responsibility

President’s Message – Shared Heritage and Responsibility

Happy autumn everyone! Perfect time for sitting among colorful leaves, reflecting on 2015, and planning for your upcoming year.

Last month DC/SLA members elected Blane Dessy (President-Elect), Jack Dale (Recording Secretary), Lois Ireland (Program Director), and Layla Heimlich (Sponsor Relations Director) to the 2016 DC/SLA Board. You can view the entire list of DC/SLA Board members for next year here. Congratulations to all of the new Board!

DC/SLA is also looking for members to serve on committees in 2016. If you are interested in volunteering, please see the list of committees and contact Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Kelly at volunteer@dc.sla.org. Note that some committees may not have spots available, so please indicate multiple committees and/or specify your interests so we can help match you to a group.

SLA also held its election, with members selecting Dee Magnoni (President-Elect), Nick Collison (Treasurer), Tom Nielsen (Division Cabinet Chair-Elect), and Mary Talley (Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect) to serve on the SLA Board next year. In fact, three out of the four candidates elected are members of the DC Chapter.

DC/SLA kicked off October with the event “World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk: Preservation Efforts in Iraq and Syria” at Bloomberg BNA in Crystal City. This program, which drew around 70 people, provided insight into the importance and reach of cultural heritage, risks faced by libraries and archives in the Middle East, contributions by organizations such as the Library of Congress and UNESCO to preservation efforts, and the role that the public can play in protecting antiquities and collections. You can read a recap of the event by Zeinab Mansour. The program was more than just informative; it was also a call to action. Speaker Michael Albin emphasized the lack of coverage of this topic by the media and other organizations and recognized DC/SLA’s role in providing a forum for this concern of global importance. SLA members can be at the forefront of helping to bring awareness to this issue by spreading the word to colleagues, holding programs on this topic, and writing their representatives. As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, this event is a reminder that DC/SLA plays an important part not only among members, but throughout the information profession, in the broader DC community, and on the international stage.

Speaking of the anniversary, remember to register for the Jubilee Gala taking place on Saturday, November 7th. The event is free for all DC/SLA members and each member can bring a guest at a discounted rate. Join us for dinner, drinks, dancing, and good times!

We also have other events coming up, including Search Engines for Business Researchers – October 19, 2015, Trivia Night: Third Annual Battle of the DC Librarians – October 26, 2015, Nonfiction Book Club – October 28, 2015, Webinar: Custom Information Solutions at the National Institutes of Health – November 13, 2015, Beyond the Job Advertisement – November 16, 2015, and The Louisiana Maneuvers: A Nation Prepares for War – November 19, 2015.

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