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SLA Protests
    I am writing in response to the article
“Survival Lessons for Libraries: Staying Afloat
in Turbulent Waters — News/Media Libraries
Hit Hard,” which appears in the May 2010
issue of Searcher [
In their examination of the current landscape
surrounding closures of special libraries and
the loss of employment opportunities, authors
James Matarazzo and Toby Pearlstein make
a rather harsh assumption about the focus
of the Special Libraries Association (SLA),
                                                     organizations. Without better knowledge, too        lessons learned from the Alignment Project
and I would like to address their claims.
                                                     many librarians and even whole libraries are        research have provided SLA with a clear road
    The authors state: “There are no statistics
                                                     becoming victims of budgetary crunches.             map by which to serve our members and help
that we can find on the number of corporate
                                                         In 2006, SLA saw the warning signs of the       them stay employed.
special libraries and the number of openings,
                                                     impending budget crisis and began working to            In addition to the Alignment Project, SLA
reductions, and closures affecting them over
                                                     identify the best ways to empower our members       has taken other steps to give its members more
time. Such statistics would be invaluable for
                                                     with information and tools that will help           ammunition in the fight against budget cuts.
identifying trends that could guide practitioners
                                                     them keep their jobs. This was the focus of         In 2008, SLA’s Board of Directors agreed to
in thinking strategically about their roles within
                                                     an ambitious two-year research effort, the          provide all members with free access to our
their organizations. The Special Libraries
                                                     Alignment Project, undertaken by SLA to find        Click University Webinars and replays. This
Association appears to have its focus elsewhere,
                                                     the most effective way for both the association     unprecedented move made available educational
although many of its members are in crisis. The
                                                     and our members to communicate the strategic        opportunities that will teach members new and
authors suggest that SLA is uniquely positioned
                                                     value of the information profession to employers.   marketable skills. Additionally, we have lowered
to collect and analyze this kind of data and
                                                         Our challenge was to find out how our           our dues for members who have been laid-off or
encourage the Association to make this a             members, and the jobs they perform, are             had their hours cut.
priority of its efforts.”                            viewed by hiring executives; which activities           During times of crisis, librarians and
    While Matarazzo and Pearlstein are correct       performed by info pros are valued most by           information professionals need the practical
that SLA has not conducted research that would       employers; and what language can be used            tools, resources and networking opportunities
yield data and statistics about library closures,    to effectively communicate the value that           that SLA provides more than ever, and we are
their conclusion that SLA is not focused on its      information professionals add to the                committed to being their supportive partner
members who are in crisis is simply not true.        organizations that employ them.                     during this turbulent time. SLA will continue
SLA has, in fact, done extensive work to identify        We undertook this challenge in the manner       to use the findings of the Alignment Project
trends and provide tools to guide members into       that information professionals use in their         research to shape our services to meet the
thinking strategically about their roles within      work every day: by conducting the best              demands of a rapidly changing marketplace,
their organizations.                                 research and finding the best information to        and we will stay focused on helping them
    With so much information available online,       support evidence-based decisions. (All of our       showcase the strategic value they provide
and with organizations and governments looking       findings are available on our Web site at www.      their organizations.
for ways to cut costs, advocacy at the personal                                                             Janice R. Lachance
level has taken on new urgency. People outside           SLA is now using the results of this                                        Chief Executive Officer
the library world — and more than a few in it        research to re-focus our programs, services,                             Special Libraries Association
— often have a very narrow, non-strategic view       and member benefits. We are 
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