Happy New Year, members and readers.
Welcome to the current Chapter operating year with this first issue of The Courier for 2009. For the record, the Toronto Chapter is now in its 70th year of operations (1940-2009), while our parent association SLA (Special Libraries Association) just kicked off a much-anticipated, year-long celebration of their Centennial or 100th Anniversary year (1909-2009). Commemorating the SLA anniversary began in mid-January with the annual Leadership Summit gathering, this year in Savannah, GA.
As 2008 drew to a close and the SLA Centennial year began (and with it, my role as your local Chapter President), I began looking through my saved collection of past Courier issues, print copies that happened to begin with the issues that went to press during the Chapter’s fiftieth Anniversary year, 1990-1991. Most of the issues bore the familiar green masthead, and all of them had those telltale signs of having been sent by ‘snail- mail’ – yellowing scotch tape securing folded sheets, and adhesive address labels. It was a fascinating read that enabled me to place on a time line the contributions of the many Chapter leaders and volunteers who preceded me, and to recall the ones that I knew and the ones that I knew of (by reputation). I was struck by the amazing changes caused by emerging ‘Net technologies over the last two decades, changes to both the way in which information professionals were working, and the way in which the Chapter was operated. The issues for the Anniversary year were distinguished by the rendition of the familiar masthead in a rich gold colour.
Many ideas flooded into my brain from that reading. Soon afterwards I travelled to Savannah to represent the Chapter at the annual SLA Leadership Summit, where my brain received more stimulation when I interacted in sessions and socialized one-on-one with leaders from other Units (chapters, divisions, caucuses, etc), leaders operating at the Association level, and the Association’s talented and productive staff. The agenda for leadership development was excellent this year, and the excitement of the special year was palpable.
Once back at work after Summit, I was happy to get down to business and to chair the first Executive Board meeting for 2009 in the week following. It is with great pleasure that I list here for you the members of the Toronto Chapter’s current Executive Board. We were elected at the Chapter’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held November 12, 2008, and assumed office on January 1, 2009.
President – Joy Shanfield
President-Elect – Claire Lysnes
Secretary – Julia Brewster
Treasurer – Jan Dawson
Director – Britta Jessen Charbonneau
Membership Chair – Jennifer Burns
Event Coordinator – Sandra Craig
Past-President (ex officio on the Board) – Daniel Lee
Some of the talented people listed above have already made earned a place within the history of the Chapter and Association – fast workers! We were excited to learn that Jennifer Burns was accepted to attend the next NELI (Northern Exposure to Leadership Institute), a gathering of information professionals near the beginning of their careers who show promise of becoming leaders in the field. It will take place in western Canada in approximately five weeks’ time, and the Toronto Chapter is extremely pleased to sponsor Jennifer’s participation there. She follows in the footsteps of earlier Chapter attendees, among them David Hook, Tracey Palmer, Daniel Lee and Claire Lysnes.
Daniel, who is currently serving as an elected Director on the Association’s Board of Directors, won more recognition at the international level when he received an SLA Presidential Citation for bringing Twitter to the 2008 annual conference in Seattle, and for his timely creation of training instructions for conference attendees.
The Chapter’s Advisory Board works alongside the Executive Board, reporting to its individual members, and performing the varied roles that go on, some ‘behind the scenes’, throughout each Chapter operating year. A full list of these volunteers appears on the web page’s “About us – Advisory Board” section.
A warm welcome goes out to these volunteers who have joined the Advisory Board ranks recently: as Courier Co-Editor – Gillian Horwood, for Registration – Sophia Apostol and Shelley McBride, for Archives – Jan Moffatt and Brenda Wong, and as Solos Chair – Amra Porobic. We are equally proud and appreciative of the work that the continuing Advisory Board members are doing, and consider ourselves fortunate that they continue to provide us with their time, effort, and far from inconsequential expertise. Thanks to the following (please see the web page listing for their specific roles): Laura Warner, Heather Postill, Heather Brunstad, Mei Tan, Kathy Coorsh, Ulla de Stricker, Heather Ritchie, Tylene Reaume, Pam Casey, Laura Anderson, Michael MacSween, Andrea Gagliardi, Carolyn Lindsay, and Helen Katz. Our thanks and appreciations go as well to Laura Knapp and Gayle Gossen for their past contributions in Advisory Board positions.
Our Past Presidents form an Expertise Pool (instituted in 2005), and current leaders are able to draw on their experience and wisdom throughout their terms of office. I have already been helped and encouraged by these generous people, and I am most grateful to the following members for their personal support or their willingness to take on continuing or ad hoc roles in my year: Daniel Lee, Pam Casey, Martha Foote, Laura Knapp, Gayle Gossen, Ulla de Stricker, and Heather Wilson.
I wish to thank Daniel Lee for the outstanding contributions that he and his team made to the Chapter operations last year. The year will be remembered for: the introduction of the Student Sponsorship Fund and the member contributions to it that enabled students to attend the year’s Chapter events free of charge; the attraction of nine corporate Partners, most of them first-time contributors, whose generosity helped to cover a significant proportion of the cost of running the year’s events; and the attraction of a high number of first-time volunteers to every level of Chapter operations (the Boards and Volunteer Pool). As well, a full array of Awards was given by the Chapter to members, in recognition of professional or academic accomplishments, or success in an award competition.
My Goals as President
One of my three personal goals as President this year is to strengthen the contributions that our ‘ad hoc’ volunteers make when they rise to our call and do specific things that we assign to them. We have called this reservoir of talent our Volunteer Pool since approximately 2005. If we can strengthen the training and personal support that we give to these volunteers who are typically unfamiliar with our expectations and our ways of operating, and if we can provide them with a richer, fuller experience in working with us, we will succeed in helping them progress to more challenging roles on our Boards.
Another of my personal goals is to provide varied events that reflect the needs and interests of as many members as possible. I will also strive this year for some unique events that relate to the association’s Centennial year, some that will look back and celebrate our contributions as a Chapter to the association’s first hundred years, and others that will look ahead to ‘vision’ and what the next hundred years may bring to the information profession.
We recently announced the Gala Centennial Dinner that is planned for May 14, 2009, so mark your calendars. Martha Foote, a Chapter Past President, is in charge of organizing the event, and it promises to be very special. Martha and her helpers are working to locate and invite former Chapter Presidents to be part of the celebration, and firming up soon-to-be-announced details about the Gala’s entertainment. Stay tuned!
We are also close to announcing a series of events on aspects of career development. It will feature Ulla de Stricker, a Chapter Past President who continues to serve on our Advisory Board as Career Guidance Chair. It is being organized by another Chapter Past President, Pam Casey. Ulla enjoys a reputation for her incisive thinking and is known far beyond our Chapter for her contributions to the profession. This series is designed to help new graduates and other members who may be facing uncertain times in their careers due to the economic downturn that has much of the world in its grip.
We have many other exciting ideas for events in 2009, such as continuations of previous successful themes like Best of the Web, and Knowledge Management, and new ones such as a Theatre Night, a Visioning the Future event, and Networking Nights. We are hard at work lining up participants and will place dates for these on the events calendar as soon as possible.
Just to remind you, our active subgroups New Information Professionals and Solos will also plan and provide events in the coming year. To stay informed as dates for Chapter and group events are determined, check the Events section of our web page, or add this RSS feed to your reader:
My third personal goal is to update the Chapter’s most recent Strategic Plan that served as a blueprint for Chapter goals and priorities in 2002-2005. We will strike a Committee later this spring, and if the call for volunteers strikes a chord with you, then please join us in this endeavour. It will be easier for leaders to assign priorities each year, and to align these with the overall direction approved for the Chapter when we have a Strategic Plan in place, and the buy-in of our membership for it.
To the best of our knowledge, the Chapter has one illustrious graduate of the SLA training course 23 Things that was inspired by our own Stephen Abram. I refer to Carolyne Sidey, from Xerox Research Centre Canada, in Mississauga ON. She is one of only 29 SLA members who completed the course by the deadline December 15, 2008, and she was one of 23 draw winners announced at the recent Leadership Summit. Congratulations, Carolyne.
Some new themes and announcements were made by the Association at the Leadership Summit that took place January 14 to 17, 2009. Here are a few examples; however, I urge you to go to www.sla.org to read more about the year to come from an Association-wide perspective.
- In this time of economic uncertainly, the Association declared that they would operate with austerity, and they indicated some of the ways in which their spending this year would be different. For example, the annual salary survey of members will not take place in 2009.
- To help members to cope and thrive in a bad economy, the Association has changed the pricing of Click U Live online sessions and replays to free of charge for members. Their new tier of membership fee for lower earning members, announced earlier, will also benefit members who are not employed in full time positions.
- The research phase of the Association’s Alignment project ‘Positioning SLA for the Future’ has just concluded (the work of consultants Fleishman-Hillard, Andy Hines of Social Technologies, and Outsell, Inc). The awaited words and phrases that they prepared for our use in expressing our value to top level executives will be on the web site shortly. We had a peek at them during the Summit, and they are strong and appropriate.
Included in this issue of Courier is a reprint of one of the ‘Historical Highlights’ articles written about SLA Toronto Chapter by a member, the one that describes the decade 1970-1980. Enjoy it – it’s a fine example of the facts that intrigued me as I read through back issues of one of our most valued services to members, our newsletter.
I hope to hear from you if you have feedback to provide on how the Chapter is doing in delivering meaningful services to you, or if you wish to volunteer to help our committed team in carrying out our objectives for the year.
Joy Shanfield, MLS
President, SLA Toronto Chapter