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