The merger of the Academic Community with the Education Community was officially approved by the SLA Board of Directors at their April  28, 2021 board meeting.

Merger discussions were initiated by the Education Community in the summer of 2020.  They cited having difficulty recruiting volunteers to fill their leadership positions (they received no responses to their most recent “call for volunteers”).  In addition, there was a slight overlap in the existing scope notes of both the Education and Academic communities and these two communities frequently collaborate and co-sponsor their conference programming.  Following discussions among both boards through the fall of 2020, each community was polled re: the proposed merger.  We had also drafted a proposed new scope note that the memberships of both communities voted on.    

Vote on the proposed merger:

A majority of members of both Communities voted to merge (68.2%). The Academic Community’s vote had 11 yes votes (64.7% of voters) and 6 no votes (35.3% of voters); the Education Community’s vote had 1 yes vote (100.0% of voters) and 0 no votes (0.0% of voters); the members who belong to both Community’s vote had 3 yes votes (75.0% of voters) and 1 no vote (25.0% of voters).  All votes were submitted by December 2, 2020.


Vote on the new Scope Note:

A majority of members of both Communities voted in favor of the new Scope Note (86.4%). The Academic Community’s vote had 14 yes votes (82.4% of voters) and 3 no votes (17.6% of voters); the Education Community’s vote had 1 yes vote (100.0% of voters) and 0 no votes (0.0% of voters); the members who belong to both Community’s vote had 4 yes votes (100.0% of voters) and 0 no votes (0.0% of voters).  All votes were submitted by December 2, 2020.

Following these votes, a question was raised by one member of the Education Community regarding the possibility of becoming a section instead of a full merger.  The rationale for the full merger initially was due to lack of being able to recruit volunteer leaders.  To provide due diligence, a second poll was sent to the Education Community membership regarding whether or not they would rather become a section versus the full-fledged merger.  The poll began in the last week of March and ran into the third week of April.  Seven members voted: five for the full merger (71.4%), two for becoming a section (28.6%).


Proposed Terms of the Merger:

Name: the Community will become the Academic and Education Community.

Officers: for the remainder of the year, the existing boards will co-manage their respective positions to facilitate this transition; nominations and the election of new officers for 2022 will occur in late summer/early fall and be open to any community member.

Date of Effectiveness: as soon as possible once approved by the Board.

Changes to Scope Note: yes.  The new scope note will be:
The ACADEMIC AND EDUCATION Community (A&E) provides a forum for librarians and information professionals working in K-12, higher education or other educational settings (from student to practitioner to educator to supporting industry partners):

  • to partner, collaborate, exchange, and disseminate information and knowledge for the strategic benefit of education-related information professionals and their organizations or wider communities and diverse clientele,
  • to enhance the skills of its members in the management and retrieval of such information and knowledge,
  • to stimulate research in the field of education as well as support the efforts of library and information science educators,
  • to improve the quality of teaching and research at academic institutions, and
  • to embrace, manage, and utilize evolving educational technologies.

 Plan for Combining Community Activities: 

  • the Education Community’s peer-reviewed journal, Education Libraries, will continue to be published (along with the Academic Community’s peer-reviewed journal, Practical Academic Librarianship) under the supervision of a single editorial board. The existing Academic editorial board will be expanded to include slots for an “education” subject specialist as well as provide an opportunity for additional peer-reviewers.  Lesley Farmer has indicated that she would be interested in serving on the editorial board after she hands-off the webinar series.
  • the Education Community’s robust webinar series (programs already planned through August 2021) will continue. They have well-established partnership with ALISE and EBSS (ALA/ACRL); Dr. Lesley Farmer has led this initiative for the last 5-6 years and is willing to continue in this role and to help mentor a backup/replacement.  Nabi Hasan has agreed to serve as the backup for Lesley initially and transition into the lead role down the road.
  • regarding conference programming, while no sessions have been planned by the Education Community for 2021, they historically have tried to have 3-4 conference programs per year and have often collaborated or co-sponsors programs with the Academic Community in the past. Moving forward, conference program planning will include academic and education topics and programs.
  • the webpages will be merged to retain all relevant content. Social media efforts will be expanded to include education topics as well.
  • regarding Board representation: the Advisory Board will be expanded to include a member with an education focus (if a volunteer is forthcoming).


Academic History

First Conversations

The idea for SLA Academic started as a conversation among several academic librarians in a bar at the 2008 SLA Leadership Summit in Louisville, KY. Those members felt SLA was a strong choice for specialized content as well as leadership and networking, but we were missing out on the opportunity to more easily connect with other professionals in academic libraries. We also felt we needed more general programming related to our organization type in addition to the specialized content which is one of SLA's greatest strengths.

The Petition Process in Seattle

In May 2008, Stacey Greenwell drafted the scope note for SLA Academic. She met via phone with the cabinet chairs, Tom Rink and Robyn Frank, on May 30, and again in person on June 15, and they discussed the process for creating a division. On June 17, 2008, at the SLA Annual Conference in Seattle, the scope note was presented to Joint Cabinet, and the call for signatures for the petition was announced with 100 signatures being required. 63 signatures were collected in person at the conference, and an additional 124 individuals signed the online petition. 71 indicated their interest in getting involved in the division.

Concerns and a Town Hall Meeting

During the 2008 Annual Conference and throughout the summer, several members and two divisions expressed concerns at the formation of this division. A town hall meeting was held via phone conference on November 12, 2008 for members to share their concerns about the proposal to form the division. Following that meeting, the cabinet chairs presented a board document on November 30, 2008. The SLA Board of Directors approved the formation of the division at the monthly board meeting call on December 11, 2008. Members could join SLA Academic beginning on January 6, 2009.

The Division is Official

In December 2008, the first SLA Academic Board was formed. Officers included: Stacey Greenwell (Chair), Anna Burke (Chair-Elect), Chris Miller (Secretary), Leoma Dunn (Treasurer), and Juliane Schneider (2010 Program Planner). The first SLA Academic Board meeting was held on January 17, 2009 at the SLA Leadership Summit in Savannah. The board meeting was followed by a lunch meeting to begin planning programming for the annual conference, and the division logo was designed at that lunch on the cocktail napkin pictured here. Without an allotment at that point, options were limited, so the three events planned for the SLA Centennial Conference in Washington, D.C. were a board meeting, the first business meeting, and the first of what became an annual Academic Division Roundtable.

The first funding for the division came not as an allotment, but as a check for $1000 from the Centennial Video Contest.  Noni Vidal was chosen as the student winner of the contest for the video, “The More Things Change."  Noni designated Academic as her division, for which the division received $1000.

Annual Conference Programming

The first Academic Division Roundtable was well-attended with over 70 individuals participating.  While the moderator planned to have a vote for topics, the topics were ultimately self-organized at the roundtable, and topics included information literacy, promotion/tenure issues, the evolving reference desk, building faculty relationships, and others.  In 2010, 56 members responded with these topics for the roundtable which was even larger than the first: exciting innovations, outreach and marketing strategy, collaboration across institutions/departments, supporting users at a distance, using mobile applications, digital preservation/preservation of digitally-born data, antagonists to advocates: how to wow demanding patrons, faculty or donors without compromising your institutional standards, and collection evaluation and assessment.

Perhaps following in the footsteps of one of its chief co-sponsoring units, the Information Technology Division, the Academic Division has developed a reputation for fun and friendly open houses.  At the 2010 Annual Conference in New Orleans, the Academic Division held its first open house, Academic Dance Party.  Two dance parties were perhaps too much for SLA, as in 2011, the open house was Karaoke Night and has been a conference staple ever since.  In 2013, the IT division joined forces with Academic to co-sponsor Karaoke Night and Trivia Night which are both continuing in 2014. 

It hasn't been all parties though, as the division has led or co-sponsored at least one Spotlight Session every year. Some examples:  It's a Brave MOOC World: Challenges and Opportunities for Librarians (2014), Academic Libraries: Supporting Innovation and Entrepreneurship (2014),  E-Books and How They Effect Special Libraries (2013), The Digital Preservation Network (2013), Reinventing Library Skills (2012), Improv!-ing your Library Using the Principles of Second City (2012), Best Practices in Self-Assessment: Offering Sustainable Value to Users and Clients (2012), Collaborations Across Disciplines (2011), Teaching Generation M (2011), All Your Copyrights are Ours: Scholarly Communication and Open Access in the21st Century (2011), Tenure: How to Get it and What it Does for You (2010), and Nuts and Bolts of Contract Management (2010).

A Growing Division

At the 2010 Leadership Summit in St. Louis, Stacey Greenwell spoke on a panel focused on SLA unit formation and described the period of growth the division had seen in its first year.  The division continued to grow in 2010, and several new initiatives were launched.  Leslie Reynolds began work to establish Practical Academic Librarianship: the International Journal of the SLA Academic Division (also known as PAL) which was first published in 2011.  Read more about the history of PAL.

Anna Burke, 2010 Chair, worked with Springshare who generously provided the division with access to its popular LibGuides product, and Springshare agreed to sponsor the Springshare Innovation in Academic Libraries Award which was first given at the 2011 SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia.  The awards program continued to grow under Catherine Lavallée-Welch's leadership as Awards Chair with the presentation of the division's first Outstanding Member Award in 2011 which was awarded to and named after the division's founder, Stacey Greenwell.  At the 2012 Annual Conference in Chicago, the division awarded the Practical Academic Librarianship Award for the first time.

At the 2012 Leadership Summit, the division was the recipient of two awards from SLA Headquarters: the largest increase in total number of members and the largest percentage increase in membership.

Joe Kraus worked with Chair Catherine Lavallée-Welch in 2013 to propose the creation of the division's first section, the Scholarly Communication Section.  The section was open for members to join in May 2014.

In 2014, the division co-sponsored with SLA Europe an SLA Early Career Conference Award (ECCA), and the division's awardee was Michelle Bond. The division co-sponsored the award again in 2016 (Helen Monagle), 2017 (Amy O'Donohoe), and 2018 (Bethany Sherwood).

The division launched this website in June 2014 to display its public archives as well as share division history and milestones.

In January 2015, the Higher Education Administration section was approved at Cabinet at the Leadership Summit.

At the 2019 SLA Annual Conference, the division celebrated its tenth anniversary.  This section is currently inactive.

In 2020, the division transitioned to a community as did all other units of SLA. The Academic Community also participated in SLA's first fully online Annual Conference.

In 2021, the Academic Community merged with the Education Community to become the Academic and Education Community.

Education History

Founded as a division in June 1974 at the Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association in Toronto, the Education Division had its beginnings in the “Education and Library Service Section” in 1948 which was later dissolved in 1955. Then seventeen years later, with renewed interest on the part of a few education libraries’ leaders around the country, yet another attempt was made at the Pittsburgh Annual Conference in June 1973, culminating in the formation of Education Division in 1974.

The division was mandated to address the needs of “university education libraries, federal education libraries, school district professional libraries, education association libraries, textbook publishers, AV media publishers” and a wide variety of other special libraries with some education dimension. Since then, the division has broadened its membership base to include educational technology corporate libraries and librarian/information professional entities.

In the 21st century, the division has updated and expanded its publishing role. The division’s flagship journal Education Libraries, SLA’s only peer-refereed publication (until 2011 when it was joined by the Academic Division's peer-reviewed journal Practical Academic Librarianship), migrated to an online environment and was made freely available to the library world. The division also expanded membership participation through its  social networking presence.