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WHY I BELONG TO SLA

by Ernie Evangelista, 2014 SLA Georgia President-Elect

I was exposed to Special Libraries Association (SLA) in September 1991, the first month of my library science graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having worked in investment management and retail operations before starting library school, I felt the strongest affinity with SLA as a professional group versus the American Library Association (ALA) or ASIS, now ASIS&T (Association for Information Science and Technology). As a student, I attended chapter meetings throughout the Research Triangle area (Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh) and was fortunate to meet so many knowledgeable information professionals such as former SLA President Rebecca Vargha and UNC Journalism School Librarian Barbara Semonche. I became Treasurer of our student chapter and, in 1993, won a Business and Finance Division grant, along with our Student Chapter President, to attend the SLA annual meeting in Cincinnati — my very first SLA conference. (As a side note, Susan Klopper was the B&F Division Chair at the time!)

Twenty years later, I keep up with most of my fellow SLA student chapter officers and often run into Rebecca Vargha at SLA meetings. In the way that these SLA leaders offered advice and guidance throughout my career, I want to pass along my lessons learned with and be a role model to the next generation of information professionals. Though technology has changed the nature of the profession, some things remain the same: Knowledge sharing, Building relationships and Continuous learning. SLA helps me do these things and so much more virtually and in person at the national and local level.

As 2014 Georgia Chapter President-Elect, I hope that SLA Georgia has been and continues to provide LOCAL value to our members in the following ways:

• Virtual and in-person opportunities, some in collaboration with other local library groups, for professional development.

• Field trips to interesting libraries in the metro Atlanta area to learn about and observe information services and delivery to customers.

• Informal networking among members so that we get to know each other better.

Based on feedback received from last year’s focus groups, the Georgia Chapter Board hopes that the variety of programs planned thus far offer something of value for each SLA Georgia member. After all, that’s why we volunteered to lead the Chapter in the first place and why my ultimate answer to the question, “Why I belong to SLA” is: to get members, our library customers and budding information professionals excited about being part of a dynamic and interactive group that shares and promotes knowledge management practices while dispelling stereotypes depicting libraries as relics of the past — no longer relevant in today’s more technological world.

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