Our confusion stems from the SLA CEO's assessment that our statement, "the Association's focus is elsewhere," is a "harsh assumption." Yet the author of the letter agreed that SLA does not and has not collected the type of data we reference.
CORRESPONDENCE 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 [http://www.infotoday.com/ searcher/may10/Matarazzo_Pearlstein.shtml]. 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 sla.org/alignment.) 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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