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Focus Group Report

As you know, the Georgia SLA board conducted a series of focus groups to determine the desires, goals and needs of the Georgia SLA chapter to help plan programming and to establish a foundation for updating the chapter’s strategic plan. There were four focus groups with a total attendance of 20 including our four fellows who facilitated the groups –  Liz Bibby, Gail Stahl, Susan Klopper and Ann Cullen.

We are a diverse group scattered widely through metropolitan Atlanta (and Georgia).   But that attendancehat attendance, more than anything, tells us that you are committed to SLA Georgia. We hope to rise to the challenge.

So what did we find out?

As a whole, members indicated an extremely strong desire for networking opportunities beyond happy hours and the annual luncheon/holiday party.  They also expressed a desire for programs that provide knowledge and learning opportunities on the industry, new tools and techniques.

Those who have been members of the association for over five years definitely feel that the chapter is smaller and less active.  Others, who are newer, sense a Midtown/Decatur centric chapter and a somewhat “closed” and inclusive group.

Participants felt strongly that there is a need to build visibility and create a more active chapter.

Communication was a recurring issue.  Directions to meetings need to be very detailed particularly about parking availability and costs. The board should keep pushing information out via all possible channels in ways that don’t require members to hunt for information.   Reports on events and happenings should be posted as soon as possible to reinforce the group’s activities.

And when pushing the message, the chapter should do it in ways that reflect that that SLA is different than ALA.  The association is much more diverse in library types, librarian roles, and other untraditional organizations that are not generally realized.  We should look for opportunities to tell this story of diversity to surprise and inform prospective members.

Participants prefer quality over quantity.  And they did reach an informal consensus that programs needed to be held at different times and places, preferring that the board plan a flexible schedule rather than a regular date such as the third Wednesday of the month.  However, they also want an idea of the general structure of chapter programming to know what to expect throughout the year.

Participants were very positive about trying to do more joint programming with other associations. Among the suggestions were SCIP, AAIP, ASIST, AIIP, ALLA, AEL, ILTA, and LMA.

Suggestions for programming generated a number of ideas.  Some of these will take time and commitments such as developing webinars and/or other training programs.   However, several involved utilizing the depth of knowledge and information within the existing group, ideas that can be more rapidly implemented.

And while participants did point out issues with the chapter, they also felt that given the recent economy that generated a number of cutbacks in the industry, the chapter is still viable.

Nancy Snell

President Elect 2013

 

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