Monday, October 04, 2010

SLA elections results, my past & your future

Jill Hurst-WahlDuring the Special Libraries Association's Leadership Summit in January 2010, I received a phone call asking if I would consider running for the Association's Board of Directors and I said "yes". Over the next eight months, I and the other candidates met with SLA members, gave brief speeches, wrote blog posts, and even did a video presentation in an effort to ensure that fellow members knew who we were and had enough information in order to decide for whom to vote. Last Wednesday, the voting ended and by Thursday afternoon the results were made public. Yes, in January 2011, I will begin a three-year term on the SLA Board of directors.  I know that the work will not be easy and, yes, I'm up for the task.

The Road Ahead: A few people have asked about my goals for the next three years or what I hope to accomplish. The directors often work on special projects at the request of the Association's president as well as having input on all Board activities. We don't have individual priorities like our political representatives might have. Instead we work to ensure SLA meets its mission to promote and strengthen "its members through learning, advocacy, and networking initiatives." With the diversity of our members in terms of focus, geography, language, etc., that in itself is a tall order.TableCon @ Gang CIL2009

Like other for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, the last two years have been stressful for SLA and that stress will continue into the future as it weathers the economic slowdown we're all feeling.  Speeches given during the annual membership meeting this year discuss what we're facing:
  • Speech by Dan Trefethen, SLA's Treasurer
  • Speech by Janice Lachance, SLA's CEO
  • Speech by Anne Caputo, SLA's President
The financial viability of the organization is a priority for the Board and staff.  I and others on the Board will work to ensure that SLA fulfills its mission while also staying on track financially.  I don't expect the conversations or decisions to be easy.  I do expect there to be a lot of work ahead of us and much angst.

Jill Hurst-WahlMy Past & Your Future: When I graduated with my MLS degree, I had no desire to be a manager or leader, I just wanted to have steady employment. In fact, my goal was to work for one organization for my entire career and thus emulate my one grandfather. What really occurred has been radically different! I've worked for several organizations, started my own business, been a manager and found myself in leadership positions. Those are all things I did not plan for, but what if I had planned? Or...better yet...what should a librarian -- you! -- do in order to set yourself on a track that will position you for important leadership positions in the future?  Here are a few ideas:
  • Network with your peers. At some point, your peer group will become the leaders, so it is good to interact with them now and to get to know one another.  Also realize that they have to know who you are if you're going to lead them!
  • Attend meetings and conferences that your peers are attending as well as those in leadership positions.  Attend not only for the networking opportunity, but also for the ability to hear the plans, problems, solutions and other things discussed either as part of the meeting or in side conversations.  If you want to be part of the solution, you need to know what the problems are.
  • Volunteer your time and talent, even if you think you don't have the time or the talent.  Even giving a little time is noticed and appreciated.  And every volunteer opportunity gives you a chance to affirm your skills and build on them.
  • Listen.  It is sometimes a forgotten skill, but it is one of the most useful skills you can ever develop.  Listen to everyone about everything.  You will learn from it.
  • Understand the issues that are important to your peers and to your industry.  You can't have an informed opinion without that knowledge.
  • Be willing to take a stand for those things that are important to you and to your profession.  People want leaders who will take a stand, especially if the person is doing so unselfishly.
  • Be positive.  I know, It's not always possible to have a  positive outlook, but people do appreciate those who are more positive than negative. 
    Mantras you shouldn't say: I don't know; I'm not ready; I can't do it. - YogiTM Tea

    Finally, to those who are already leaders (in whatever way) - thank you!  And to those who will be leaders in the future - I look forward to cheering you on!

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    1 comment:

    Ben said...

    Congrats, Jill! You deserve it.