The new name for SLA: will it divide us instead of uniting us?

Oct 19 2009 Published by under librarians

A couple colleagues (Joe and Sara) wondered if support for the new name is divided between corporate and academic members.
Actually, I've heard from folks from research labs (gov't, private, and corporate) really who really hate the name, too. My take: it's business researchers vs. science researchers. I think there are more fingers in the pot and more competition for competitive intelligence and market research than honest to goodness science and engineering work like you'd have at a pharmaceutical or communications technology company. (these companies also have business researchers, but I've heard more from the chemistry and pharmaceutical types).
What doesn't help is when we're told to shut up because we might buffalo the easily led and because "people who count" like the name. That's right, the membership doesn't count, only CxOs of large for-profit corporations. Nice.

10 responses so far

  • John McKay says:

    Will the new logo keep the seven headed cobra that the old SLA logo had.
    I suppose you're tired of that joke.

  • Christina Pikas says:

    ah, that's fading over time. Our society has been called SLA for 100 years now. Anyway, it's better than Asspro.

  • Jessica says:

    Well, I do both scientific and business research at a pharma company, and I can tell you that all four of us in our resource center think the name (both the full name and the acronym) are not adding value to anything, are more confusing than ever and that this is a false vote as we can only pick between SLA and ASKPro. (I approve of alignment and even a name change, but not THIS name.)
    My supervisor has basically told us that if this name goes forward, she would prefer we let our memberships lapse. I don't know how this new name is going to increase the membership, which should be the core mission of any association. (BTW, you can see other comments from Pharma -both pro and con - at our division blog

  • Nancy says:

    I concur with your entire post. I'm a corporate librarian in the petroleum industry dealing with both technical (chems & eng) and business clients.
    Not only is the new name a dog, the method used to arrive at it didn't include the membership. Since the announcement, leadership has been heavy-handed in pushing and has implied a marginalization of members who work in places called libraries or have librarian in their title. I and several local friends posted dissent and got personal, off-list replies from National which was seen as a slap down.
    Two of us are not only voting no, but also contemplating dropping membership unless things improve. Our state association has a lot to offer, including a more friendly environment.

  • Paul says:

    Brilliant. This single blog post cuts to the real issue: business research community vs. scientific research community.
    SLA management & bd of directors are indeed almost entirely from the business research community, and the Alignment study was weighted accordingly.
    I'm in an academic library in a subject specialization made up overwhelmingly of researchers in the sciences, with researchers who float freely between the government, corporate and academic sectors.
    The big question is: can the findings of the Alignment study be carried over to the scientific community? No. So, do I see myself or any of our patrons/clients in the Alignment study? No.

  • Jill Strand says:

    I'm an Alignment Ambassador for the Minnesota Chapter which does not mean that I am required to favor or push a new name on anyone. My job is to encourage members to review the research and engage in a positive dialog. Period.
    I've heard and monitored comments on both sides from several mediums and also watched SLA Leadership do their best to respond to questions and concerns. Has anyone had a chance to read the Naming Research Report shared yesterday? It shows that SLA worked hard to interview a large cross-section of members including academic and government -
    I'm not sure if it includes industry breakouts but can check. Also, maybe instead of seeing personal replies from National as slap-downs, consider that they value your opinion enough to engage you directly in dialog. I know it is harder to disagree one-on-one but believe that we all benefit from sharing our ideas and giving others a chance to do the same.
    That said, this isn't (and shouldn't) be about business researchers v. science researchers, librarians v. info pros or one name vs. another. It's about working together to move our profession forward. For an example of why and how we can do that together, please check out todays SLA Blog -
    Before anyone decides that they were left out or don't count, check out the naming research report. And consider that this is about all of us as a profession - don't look for reasons to divide that may not be there. Whatever name we end up with, Alignment will still benefit us and the value you receive from the Association (great conference programs, free Click U, ebrary titles and the Innovation Lab) won't change.

  • Michelle Mayes says:

    I'm a business researcher and I still think the name is not the best they could have come up with.
    I think there was a hurry not to lose momentum but the move to this particular name wasn't well though out.
    Including only 100 members in the survey wasn't enough; should have been more members less others.

  • Alex says:

    "SLA management & bd of directors are indeed almost entirely from the business research community" - really? I can't say that I agree; the evidence doesn't add up.
    Gloria Zamora, who is championing this, isn't from the corporate world - she works for Sandia National Labs, which is as pure research as you can get.
    Just looking through the last two years of SLA directors elected:
    2008: Deb Hunt (nonprofit), Ty Webb (independent information professional, previously @ biotech), Tom Rink (nonprofit university), Susan Canby (nonprofit science), Gloria Zamora (pure science research - Sandia National Labs)
    2009: Anne Caputo (vendor), Ruth Wolfish (vendor), Ann Sweeney (nonprofit), Daniel Lee (corporate - public affairs), Nettie Seaberry (nonprofit - supplier development)
    I don't see a disproportionate lot of corporate in that group. And the past-president, Stephen Abram, who has championed the name, is coming from SirsiDynix, an ILS company who is pretty much independent of business research. If anything, he would be tilted towards academic research since most of Sirsi's clients are in academia or public (corporate is a very tiny percentage; trust me, I used to work there).
    I'm willing to entertain the idea that this is driven more by the corporate world than the academic world, but please let's discuss this using solid facts. In this case it seems the facts don't seem to support the assertion in this case, unless there is evidence otherwise?

  • Jill Strand says:

    Can't access the naming research just now so not sure where some are getting that the surevey included only 100 members and should have been more members less others. This is nearly half of the 200+ interviewed. Don't forget that one of the aims of the Alignment was to provide better language for communicating our value beyond just us librarians. Promoting ourselves to members is like preaching to the choir - we know how much are roles and jobs have changed but few outside our profession have fully caught on, despite our best efforts.
    This isn't driven so much by the corporate world as by the world outside our profession. I literally grew up in academia with two professors (including one in industrial technology and thermodynamics) and two university administrators. Colleagues in academic libraries are struggling due to staff cuts so feel safe in saying that no type of librarian is safe from from budget cuts, layoffs and downsizing. I also happen to work in a small law firm library as a librarian. (Since many have noted that law firms have in many ways been operating 10 years beind coporate America, we aren't always considered cutting edge.)
    It was not the intention of SLA Board, HQ or anyone involved to isolate or ignore members from any arena. Neither was it anyone's intention to push a new name just to recruit new members and ignore traditional members. (Many retired members and SLA Fellows have written to various lists saying they are in favor of change and support the name proposed - I will try to share some of these via the SLA blog.)
    Bottom Line: The intention was to move the whole Association forward and doing so without considering a name change seemed like taking on a major project without using all the tools availalbe to us.

  • Corky says:

    From the moments JCD et al. christened it "Special" there were snickers. Even 100 years ago, special had that connotation. ASKPRO is just as retarded, but it least it doesn't immediately associate the group with mental retardation. Good riddance to a bad name.