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Reflection: Weaving Together An SLA Story

Reflection: Weaving Together An SLA Story

Dee Magnoni
Research Library Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
2016 SLA President-Elect

Why did I join SLA? Professional development, networking, and a great student membership rate. I was a student at SUNY-Albany, and joined SLA along with ALA. I wanted to learn about my chosen profession outside the classroom, at the practitioner level. Every i-student should, and my early involvement provided outstanding development and learning opportunities.

Why have I remained a member for nearly twenty-five years? Professional development and networking, sure. But my friendships, my stories, my experiences are the true threads that weave my SLA story. During my earliest days of membership the Internet was developing as a professional tool. I brought my own computer from home to the office so that I could explore technology while working. Individual employees did not yet have their own machines. IT division members were exploring Internet possibilities, and I became familiar with two names: Hope Tillman and Trudy Katz. Each of these pioneering SLA tech members would become friends. Hope Tillman became a friend and mentor. I met them personally when I attended one of my very first SLA conferences. Reading the conference program, I noted an IT Division meeting and stepped into the room. I had walked into a board meeting, and was embarrassed by my mistake and wanted to quickly leave. Instead, I was warmly welcomed by Hope, Trudy and others, and asked to stay. By the end of the meeting I had my first volunteer position.

These warm welcomes continued. Years ago I visited the DC area in December, and decided to attend the DC Chapter Holiday Party and Annual Meeting. I went alone, and was quickly greeted and invited to join others at a table. Nancy and Lyle Minter were at the table with me, and before long we had gone from work and professional conversations to holidays and baking. Nancy shared a recipe site — the Internet had long evolved from a professional tool to a professional and personal oasis. Another year, when Anne Caputo was President of SLA and attending ALA Midwinter in Boston, where I was living, she graciously agreed to meet me for tea. She had a whirlwind schedule, but we had a lovely afternoon and I gained a personal perspective of Anne’s position and SLA’s Board. I carried the lessons of these members’ willingness to reach out, spend time, and create relationships with developing members on through my member years.

A modest salary was another wonderful relationship tool. I paid for much of my conference attendance over the years, and needed to share rooms. Suzi Hayes and I roomed frequently. At one point I went from rooming for financial reasons to rooming for friendship reasons. Suzi let me know that I had become an “SLA junkee”. What a fabulous role! Rebecca Jones and I shared rooms and parenting stories, growing our friendship through the joys and pains of the teenage years.

The cloak I’ve woven over the years includes volunteer and development opportunities at every level. Saying “yes” has helped me continuously grow. Recently at work I was asked where I had learned to run meetings so well. My answer, of course, was SLA. I was also asked to run for President-Elect of SLA this past year. This is a role I could not take on by myself. Through years of networking, of building friendships, and of family support, I knew that I would have the infrastructure to step up. As I head into my President-Elect and President years, I look forward to the many conversations that I’ll have with members, and the bridges that we’ll build together as we work to strengthen SLA’s future.

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