Washington, DC Chapter

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President’s Message: An Exciting Year To Come!

By Beth Maser, DC/SLA President


Wow! I cannot believe it is already December. It seems like I was just handed the gavel from Deena.

What a year we have shared together as a chapter. DC/SLA still continues to be a thought leader within

SLA. Working with incoming President, Blane Dessy, we have reached out to the staff at HQ and offered

our chapter up to be the pilot for new membership initiatives. Both parties are extremely excited about

seeing how we can increase our membership numbers and our reach within the DC-area and expand the

number of job titles to which we can market. If you have any ideas or thoughts you would like to share

regarding these efforts, please do not hesitate to reach out to Blane or myself.


Throughout the year, I have continuously promoted the call for volunteers. SLA continues to thrive

under our collective volunteer leadership. Many of our volunteers have made long term commitments

to SLA and have continuously served in leadership positions of note, both at the local and national

levels. There is ample room for new and emerging leadership at DC/SLA. In fact, many of the names on

the incoming Board are new to leadership. Some are new to the profession and others have been

members for well over a decade. I could not be more excited to see what next year brings as they begin

to work together and reach out to their networks for new ideas and their successors. Our membership

can only continue to benefit from these combined efforts. This is a great time to be a part of DC/SLA!

As they year draws to a close and I leave the chapter in very capable hands, I wish all of you a very happy

and healthy holiday season. I hope 2017 is a professionally rewarding one for all of you. Be encouraged

to volunteer, grab a leadership opportunity, mentor a new member of our community, and embrace

change. Cheers and best wishes.

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President’s Message – October 2016 – Volunteers Welcome!

By Beth Maser, DC/SLA President

I cannot believe it is already fall. Time is passing by so quickly. Our Chapter election has been concluded and I would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Board Members. The following members will be working hard under the leadership of our incoming President, Blane Dessy:

President-Elect: Jesse Lambertson
Treasurer-Elect: Layla Heimlich (Current board member)
Programming Chair: Helen Keil-Losch
Communications Secretary: David Blum
Recording Secretary: Karen White
Sponsor Relations: Chris Lao-Scott
Technology and Innovation Director: Lissa Snyders

[You may read more about the new board members here]

This year has been one of change for our association. MCI has worked hard to reinvigorate our national organization, but DC has continually stayed vibrant and strong. I am very encouraged by the new names on our Board. Please help them make the chapter the best it can be next year.


New faces and names help strengthen our chapter and encourage new leaders to emerge in DC. You cannot expect to see change if you sit on the sidelines and let these opportunities pass you by. Local leadership opportunities will not only raise your visibility in the chapter and introduce you to your local peers, but these skills will also aid in your professional development outside of SLA. Writing a blog post for the website, planning an event, speaking at a conference, running for an office, or applying for an award. All of these activities assist with building your leadership skills. They not only add to your resume, but can also be considered as additional activities in a performance review, or when applying for new positions.

I realize that for some taking a risk and doing something outside of your comfort zone can be difficult. The one thing about DC/SLA is that it is a community of peers who encourage and support these types of risks. All it takes is one success to get over the fear of taking future risks. What is the worst that can happen? Not enough people show up to your event, or something that you may have proposed does not pass? BIG DEAL!! The fact is that you tried. Your SLA community gave you the opportunity to try and will give you the opportunity to try again and again. Becoming involved at the local level is a springboard to a myriad of different leadership possibilities.

I encourage all of our members and potential new members to join us and volunteer for at least one new activity in 2017.

You can learn about opportunities to get involved by contacting volunteer@dc.sla.org

I believe the best is yet to come for the new SLA and our profession as a whole.

Beth Maser
President, DC/SLA

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President’s Message – Engage on the Local Level

By Beth Maser, DC/SLA President

It seems that no matter where you turn these days, there is a candidate saying something you agree with, and another is not. There are politicians passing legislation that pushes us forward and others that set us back decades.  How can we coexist in such a dichotomy as a society, individuals, and information professionals?  While I do not want to turn this into a political commentary, I do believe that current events have made many of our members’ emotions run the gamut. I am very proud of our Chapter Board and our members in the way we thoughtfully discussed and handled the current events of the past month. While everyone may not share the same points of view, our membership was comfortable sharing their personal views, no matter which side of the debate they were on. [See the DC/SLA Board’s statement on SLA HQ’s motion to move the 2018 conference out of Charlotte, NC]

As information professionals we are intelligent, curious individuals with a desire to keep learning. We are passionate in our beliefs and tolerant of others’ opinions. While the political melee may be the hot button issue at the moment, we as a profession have been experiencing professional changes for quite a while. I do believe that current events will resolve themselves in a timely manner, but the challenges we are facing in the profession will not.

I would like us to take our collective activism and engagement with SLA to another level and work together to promote and encourage an increase in your participation at a local level. DC/SLA has always been one of the largest and most active chapters within SLA. Membership has been on the decline as information professionals have either left the profession, or have just let their membership lapse. Whatever the reason, I want to extend a very warm invitation to you to come back.

Just last week the chapter sponsored a wonderful event at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center with over 40 members and invited guests in attendance. The event: World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk: Preservation Efforts in Libraries & Archives in the Middle East was a follow-up to an equally successful program on the same topic held last fall. Our members are mentoring other members, assisting with resumes, and facilitating introductions to employers. We are capable of so much more. Together we as a chapter can continue to do great things. Take all of the energy you have shown us when becoming involved in the various current event debates and channel it back into the chapter.

I am excited to see what we can do.

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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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