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DC/SLA As a Global Voice: The Triumph of an Association

DC/SLA As a Global Voice: The Triumph of an Association

A Personal Account By Zeinab Mansour

As the Washington, DC Chapter of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) celebrates its 75th Jubilee, it is important to reflect on the tremendous role the association plays as an internationally-minded organization. We have affirmed our commitment to international issues since the association’s creation in September 1940 and provided a forum for major global issues of concern. One cannot ignore its extraordinary efforts through the years, most significantly, the “Global 2000 Initiatives.” The association played a vital role in reaching out to librarians from developing countries, providing educational and training opportunities in order to enhance their professional development. Over the past year, we have focused on war-threatened areas.

Crowd at World Heritage Event - Bloomberg RoomThe information professionals took a stand against the recent destruction of cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Syria. The March 10, 2015 rally in front of  the White House  included activists and diplomats protesting the brutal and systematic destruction of cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Syria. The  information professionals were among the crowd carrying banners and calling on the international community to condemn such  devastating  destruction to world heritage sites.  The protesters urged the international community not to standby and witness such  destruction: indeed, it is “a war crime against humanity,” as stated by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.

Continuing on this theme, on October 1, 2015, a forum was convened at the Bloomberg BNA in Crystal City, Virginia. The program, entitled “World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk: Preservation Efforts in Iraq & Syria” included three prominent speakers who shared their stories of their roles in preservation efforts.

The forum began with the moderator of the program, Mr. Michael Albin, retired Librarian at the Library of Congress who once served  in Egypt and participated in the preservation efforts in Iraq. Mr. Albin discussed the “Vulnerability of Libraries & Archives and Ongoing Efforts in Restoration of What’s Been Damaged.”

Heritage1 all speakersThe second speaker was Mr. George Papagiannis, External Relations & Information Officer in UNESCO New York Office. In his presentation, entitled, “Legal and  Organizational Contribution of UNESCO to the Preservation of Antiquities in Iraq & Syria,” Mr. Papagiannis shared his passion for collaboration on this important issue and UNESCO’s critical role.

The final speaker was Dr. Mary Jane Deeb, Chief  of  the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress.  She shared her work on the historic and cultural importance of specific sites in Iraq and Syria.

The audience included information specialists, Middle Eastern scholars and cultural activists, all united in the urgency to counter the systematic destruction of heritage of mankind. The question and answer session expressed the audience’s great concern for the international community to act and form a united front to face this major threat to the  world’s treasures.

The remarkable forum reflects the association’s role in raising awareness of crucial global issues in mobilizing support among members of the international community. It constitutes a call for partnership to face together the grave threat to the world’s cultural heritage. By providing such a forum, the association has strengthened its global voice.

Michael Albin World Heritage Event“If you’re looking for inspiration you can find it right here this evening at the DC-SLA meeting.”  – Michael Albin

In this celebration of the 75th Jubilee, it is also a recognition of the association’s triumph in its evolving role as a true player of global dimensions.

[Zeinab Mansour, Retired Librarian, The Peterson Institute for International Economics.

She is a member of the DC/SLA International Relations and Encore Caucus.]

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Washington Library at Mount Vernon Welcomes DC-Area Librarians, Faculty, and Scholars

Washington Library at Mount Vernon Welcomes DC-Area Librarians, Faculty, and Scholars

By Carol Abrams

[Carol Abrams is earning her MIS degree at the University of Tennessee.]

To celebrate two years of George Washington’s presidential library at Mount Vernon, the library staff invited librarians, faculty, and scholars at nearby institutions for a special look at the library and its collections. Dozens of guests learned about the library’s holdings and opportunities for collaboration during this exclusive event on October 1. The event was held at the library, which is located on a 15-acre site just outside the main entrance to Mount Vernon. The 45,000 square foot complex includes a reading room, a rare books and manuscripts room, a scholars’ residence and a conference wing. Its design blends into the wooded landscape.

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington holds a treasure trove of original Washington books, manuscripts, and selections from the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association archive. It has more than 15,000 items, including approximately 2,500 rare 18th- and 19th-century volumes, a growing collection of books that were owned by Washington, and some 500 letters, ledgers, and account books that bear Washington’s writing or signature.

There are many opportunities for DC-area information professionals to enjoy the special collections and facilities, but before describing them, I will share a quote from America’s first president that is sure to delight DC/SLA members.

“Knowledge is, in every Country, the surest basis of public happiness.” (January 8, 1790)

In welcoming the group, Sarah Myers, the access services librarian, said that what makes this library shine are the personal relationships that users can develop with the librarians, historians, material culture experts, archaeologists, and horticulturalist there. “We’re friendly librarians,” she said. Everyone is welcome to visit the library for research or recreational reading as long as they make an appointment. To do so, please email the librarians at fwslibrary@mountvernon.org or call 703-780-3600.

The three take-aways from the visit are the resources, the partnership opportunities, and the public events.


The library’s collection covers George Washington, Martha Washington, Mount Vernon, Colonial America, the American Revolution, the Confederation Years, slavery, domestic economies, the Early Republic, life in the eighteenth century, decorative arts, and historic preservation.

In June 2012, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association broke auction records by acquiring George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution. The volume is the centerpiece of the Library’s collection of rare books and manuscripts.

Mount Vernon-Washington Library (3)
Since the library opened, it has made other acquisitions such as a previously undocumented 90-page ledger containing the financial records of Washington’s friends and neighbors, William and George William Fairfax. The ledgers are dated 1742, 1748, 1763, and 1772, reflecting various stages in Washington’s life prior to the American Revolution. Chief Librarian and Archivist Mark Santangelo described the scholarly value of these ledgers this way, “The Fairfaxes were an elite Virginia family. Washington did business with them regularly, and he followed their lead as he sought to establish himself as a member of the Virginia gentry. He wanted to keep up with his neighbors, and these ledgers tell us what he bought from the Fairfaxes – sugar, fabrics, thread, draperies, in order to do so.”

Other recent acquisitions include a detailed account written just five months before Washington’s death in which he lists and describes 40 of the enslaved individuals who worked at his estate. Also, the library now has a rare circa-1860s ambrotype showing visitors to Washington’s Tomb. “There is a possibility that Civil War photographer Mathew Brady took this photograph, and that he’s standing there among the group,” said Santangelo.

The following are noteworthy access points to e-resources.

The Library Catalog: Find and explore the library’s collection of 20,000 secondary sources and item-level descriptions of many of the 6,000 manuscripts.

Digital Encyclopedia: Refer to 400 footnoted, scholarly articles on the totality of Washington’s life and experiences.

Digital Collections from Mount Vernon: Peruse Washington family papers; Mount Vernon farm, distillery, and gristmill reports; Mount Vernon publications; and Mount Vernon staff reports and speeches.

Partnership Opportunities

Mount Vernon-Washington Library (8)The library offers residential research fellowships and paid internships for graduate students. Grad students might contribute to the Digital Encyclopedia through scholarly editing, digital publishing, and multimedia creation. Joe Stoltz, the digital services librarian, manages the library’s digital humanities projects and databases, including the Digital Encyclopedia, and welcomed tech savvy grad students to contact him. Several librarians, in special collections and archives, for instance, are receptive to hosting practicums for Master’s Degree candidates in Library and Information Sciences.

The library welcomed university faculty to reach out and cited one partnership with a local professor wherein his students wrote articles – on spec – for the Digital Encyclopedia.

Public Events

The Library offers monthly Ford Evening Book Talks featuring authors and historians discussing their latest books about George Washington and our nation’s Founding Era. These lectures are held in the evening and are free and open to the public (registration is required).  November 12’s book talk features “Under This Roof: The White House and the Presidency – 21 Presidents, 21 Rooms, 21 Inside Stories” by Paul Brandus.

Please refer to the website for all of the public events and programs hosted by the library.

At the Library’s opening in 2013, Pulitzer-Prize-winner David McCullough spoke about Washington’s leadership. He said, “When we choose leaders, we should always take a careful look at how they’ve handled failure. George Washington is the prime example of someone who got back up, kept the faith, and kept going.”

[Some material in this article comes from the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon’s publication Washington’s Vision Comes to Life: Celebrating the Library at Mount Vernon (2014)]

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Event Recap: Business Information Finder’s Lunch @ Websearch University

Event Recap: Business Information Finder’s Lunch @ Websearch University

By Kerry Martin

On Friday, September 18th, five information professionals took a break from Websearch University to meet over lunch with the Business Information Finders (BIF) group. Peggy Braly, of the Export-Import Bank, who organized the meeting, started off by giving us a brief background of the group. BIF is an informal group of information professionals whose interests include business and economic data and sources. BIF is made up of special, public, & academic librarians, information brokers, analysts, publishers, vendors, and general researchers. BIF events are free and open to the public. If you are interested in BIF, please email Peggy (Peggybraly57@gmail.com). You can sign up for the BIF listserv here: http://list.wrlc.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/bif-l

Over lunch we discussed the various roles we perform in our different libraries and information centers. As many information professionals have experienced over the past decade or so, Peggy Braly described how her role has changed over the years. Margaret Metcalf and Kerry Martin, of CEB, discussed their recent e-learning success as well as the challenges of working in a 24/7 global organization. Angela Titone, of the Consumer Electronics Association, shared her experience of having staff members eager for library training. Becky Steinhardt, formerly of Target Corporation, gave us a look into the online digital asset management of a major retailer. As always, it’s nice to discuss current issues, challenges, and successes with like-minded information professionals.

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Register Now! World Cultural Heritage Sites At Risk: Preservation Efforts in Iraq & Syria – October 1

Register Now! World Cultural Heritage Sites At Risk: Preservation Efforts in Iraq & Syria – October 1

Please join DC/SLA and Bloomberg BNA for an important upcoming event:

World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk: Preservation Efforts in Iraq & Syria

Thursday, October 1, 2015
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Bloomberg BNA, 1801 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202


Vulnerability of Libraries and Archives and Restoration of What’s Been Damaged
Michael Albin, Former Librarian at the Library of Congress

Legal & Organizational Contribution of UNESCO to the Preservation of Antiquities in Iraq & Syria
George Papagiannis, Head of UNESCO External Relations and Information Liaison Office in New York

Library of Congress Efforts to Preserve Library Collections in Iraq
Mary Jane Deeb, Chief, African & Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress


5:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Refreshments and Networking
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm: Panel Discussion
8:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Q&A Session

Please register by September 24th!!! 


[photo credit: Library of Congress]

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SLA Elections – Make Your Vote Count!

SLA Elections – Make Your Vote Count!

By Angela Titone

I live in the District of Columbia, where the license plates read, “No taxation without representation.” I am often told my vote doesn’t count, especially when it comes to the presidential election. I am rarely organized enough to vote early. So I wait in line.

I just voted for the SLA Board of Directors Election and Bylaw Change (www.sla.org/evote through Sept 23) and the DC/SLA Board of Directors Election (through Sept 25). The process is easy, though some of the decisions were tough. There are such good folks running. The bylaw change is either a yes or no vote — you can’t vote in the middle — so that was probably the hardest for me.

I generally work on deadline, but Deena Adelman, DC/SLA President, inspired me in her blog, Take Time, Take Note, Take Action to vote for both our national and local SLA elections before the deadline.

The Special Library Association makes it so easy — we have weeks to vote. I didn’t even have to wait in line — I did it from my computer, and I could have easily used my phone.

True to our profession, I had plenty of good research tools to help me along.

The DC/SLA site gave me a good overview of the candidates, DC/SLA 2016 Board of Directors Candidates Announced.

And for the general SLA Election 2015, the Candidate Resource Center even lets you listen to the candidates speaking on key issues.

But you need to vote before the deadline to make your vote count.

Just like the presidential election, I won’t tell you exactly how I voted. If you need advice, you’re sure to find someone to discuss it with at the Happy Hour in Crystal City, next week, Wednesday, Sept 16. Register for it now so Crystal City Pub can have an approximate headcount.

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Celebrate DC/SLA’s 75th Jubilee

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Photos on flickr