Southern California

President's Letter on Major SLA Changes 2020

  • 1.  President's Letter on Major SLA Changes 2020

    Posted 01-14-2020 18:42
    Edited by Shelly Ray 01-14-2020 19:43

    Greetings, Southern California Chapter members, and Happy New Year - I hope your 2020 is off to a healthy and successful start.

    I have some okay news, some great news, and some weird news to share with you.

    Let's start off with the weird news:
    Last June, at the SLA Annual conference in Cleveland, Unit (Chapter and Division) Leaders were presented with a proposal for SLA Unit Restructuring. It is attached here for reference, and also posted in the Connect Open Forum Library.

    In short, it proposed that Units would have an option of becoming "Communities", sending the funds in their bank accounts to SLA Headquarters for management, and operating with a small board of conveners instead of a full board of leaders. The idea was to minimize the requirements to convene under the SLA "brand" and reduce the workload of Unit volunteers.

    This was presented as a proposal, and participation in it, as "optional". Last Monday, your chapter leaders had a conference call with the SLA Board and staff, and found out the Board approved the proposal in a closed meeting in December and made it mandatory. All of our chapter funds are to be sent to HQ by First Quarter 2020.  I would share the document which was approved, but we were not provided a copy because the Board is still working on the language. More on this below.

    Okay news: Long time chapter member and President-elect for 2020, Ed Vasquez, is moving to New Jersey at the end of the month for what sounds like a fantastic business opportunity. Why is this only okay news? Because we will miss him!  And also miss the opportunity to work with him as President-elect! Thank you for all your service to SLA-SCC, Ed – as vendor coordinator for many years, and as the lead on the Chapter Professional Development Day last year. We wish Ed well.

    Great news: JonLuc Christensen has stepped up and agreed to serve as President-elect in Ed's place. Many thanks to JonLuc for his willingness to serve. I have every confidence in him, as he's been active and enthusiastic as a chapter member, and in his role as Director-at-Large. I'm excited to see what he plans for SLA-SCC 2020.

    Okay news: JonLuc's new position as President-elect leaves the position of Director-at-Large vacant. Are you interested in serving? The position is functionally the Membership Chair for the chapter. I served in  that position from 2014-2018 and it's a great way to learn about how the chapter and SLA as a whole work. I really enjoyed serving, and had the opportunity to hone data crunching skills.

    JonLuc, who served most recently, and I would be happy to answer your questions and fill you in on what it looks like in practice, so please reach out to either of us.

    Great news: The first SLA-SCC Board meeting of 2020 will be held on 2/8/2020. It will follow a recap of the SLA Leadership Symposium (which takes place this weekend, 1/18-1/20) from chapter members who will have attended. It would mean so much for our chapter to have as many members who are able to attend to do so.
    Initially, this was planned as a way to bring back the professional leadership training typical of the Symposium – and we will – but the SLA Restructuring (details below) makes it even more important to have members, both longtime and brand new, join the conversation on what we want to focus on locally as we go forward through potentially major changes. Please check out the details here:

    Please email me ( or the chapter board ( any thoughts you have about the Restructuring, what SLA means to you, and any other thoughts and questions you have in advance.

    About the Restructuring:
    SLA International is in dire financial straits after several years of annual conferences which fell short of anticipated revenue, and continuing declining membership. A mandatory restructuring of SLA Units, approved by the SLA Board in December of 2019, transfers the existing Chapter and Division Funds to HQ to cover their urgent liabilities. The SLA-SCC board was told we would have access to funds for our activities as requested, but were also told there is not yet a plan in place for how these requests would be handled, processed or approved, or how funds would be provided (reimbursements, P.O.s, etc.). This would have a major impact on our Chapter's ability to plan for local programs and networking events,  how to award scholarships and travel stipends. Janice Keeler, Treasurer for the Taxonomy Division, articulated major concerns and alternative approaches which clarify the impacts of this decision. I've attached her insights as well.

    While the SLA-SCC Board was told this change was approved by the board in December 2019, and will be implemented in Q1 2020, there are some impediments to this happening:

    1. There was no announcement to members about the Board Meeting in December at which restructuring was approved. Even closed session board meetings need to be disclosed to members.
      1. There are no documents from the meeting.
      2. There is no record of the vote taking place.
      3. There is no actual Restructuring document as of 1/14/2020, as the SLA Board is "still working on the language". So unfortunately, we're not able to obtain and provide for you the document which was approved at the meeting. The attached proposal from June 2019 is all we can provide.
    2. The SLA bylaws would need a major overhaul to replace Units (Chapters, Divisions and Caucuses) with Communities, as the roles of Units are explicitly defined and limited.
    3. Any change of the bylaws requires a vote to approve or disapprove by SLA members.


    As I noted earlier, please send any comments, concerns or insights you'd like to have the SLA-SCC board bring to the SLA Leadership Symposium about this – you can email me directly ( or the chapter board ( The SLA board will hold an Open Board Meeting at the symposium on Saturday, 1/18, and we need your feedback in order to represent you well.

    And please join the Chapter Board Meeting and Leadership Retreat on 2/8 to discuss the outcomes.
    While initiatives and changes at the SLA International level have happened in the past, we've still maintained chapter business as usual locally. This instance could be radically different as it fundamentally dissolves the chapter. I'd like you to please join the conversation about what it means, and ultimately, what we really want to do locally to advance the special librarianship and information profession.

    Shelly Ray, SLA-SCC President 2020