Overview and History of SLA WCC

The Western Canada Chapter was formed in 1985, and geographically covers 2 million square miles including the four provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

The Chapter offers its members professional development programmes and employment assistance, and actively builds awareness in the community about the value of information professionals in their organizations.

The Chapter had a discussion list to facilitate networking with other information professionals, and introduced its electronic newsletter, On the Edge, in October 1996 to connect information professionals with current issues and resources.

Considered a beta site for the Virtual Chapter in 1997, the Western Canada Chapter augmented its use of current technology. The web site and discussion list moved to the Special Libraries Association in October 1997. The Chapter web journal, Wired West: Web Journal of the SLA Western Canada Chapter published its first issue in September 1997. Primary communication to the membership is now via the SLA Connect communication platform.

Geographical diversity contributes to our rapid adoption of new technology and is also the force behind our distributed programming with regional directors offering programmes reflecting local interests.

The Birth

Created in 1932, the Montreal Chapter, now the Eastern Canada Chapter, was the first SLA chapter in Canada. The creation of the Toronto Chapter followed in 1940. Until the early 1980’s, the needs of special librarians in Western Canada were met primarily through membership in the Pacific Northwest Chapter in Seattle, Washington and secondarily through the Toronto Chapter.

In 1981 discussion arose on how better to meet the needs of Western Canadian SLA members. That year, a group of Western Canada librarians conducted a survey of Western Canadian association members to see with which chapter they would prefer to affiliate, a proposed new Western Canada Chapter (WCC), the Toronto Chapter, or the Pacific Northwest Chapter (PNW). Based on the interest expressed in the survey, they submitted a petition proposing the creation of a Western Canada Provisional Chapter (WCPC) to the SLA Board of Directors in early 1982. The provisional chapter proposed to encompass the geographic regions of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. SLA approved the petition in June 1982. The provisional status of the chapter meant that the WCPC did not have equal status to a full chapter but could operate as a chapter while developing chapter by-laws.

In January 1984, the WCPC announced its intention to apply for full chapter status, so that the other chapters affected by the boundary change could adapt their by-laws on membership affiliation accordingly. Shortly following this announcement, the Pacific Northwest Chapter made public its opposition to the inclusion of British Columbia in WCPC’s boundaries. After months of deadlock between the two chapters over their respective boundaries, the SLA established a Special Arbitration Committee to decide on each chapter’s boundaries. At the SLA winter meeting in Philadelphia in January 1985, the SLA Board of Directors approved the Committee’s recommendation that BC be included in the WCPC. With the dispute resolved, the Western Canada Chapter adopted its by-laws on April 18, 1985. the SLA Board of Directors approved WCC’s full chapter status on June 7, 1985.

Chapter Presidents

Term Name City
1983-1984 Beverly Bendell Calgary
1984-1985 Diana Broome Calgary
1985-1986 Liz Johnson Calgary
1986-1987 Gail Fraser Calgary
1987-1988 Susan Parkinson Calgary
1988-1989 Shelagh Mikulak Calgary
1989-1990 Cheryl DeWolf Calgary
1990-1991 A. Yvonne Mack Regina
1991-1992 Susan Tyrrell Calgary
1992-1993 Zahina Iqbal Calgary
1993-1994 Jan Wallace Vancouver
1994-1995 Linda Everett Vancouver
1995-1996 Grace Makarewicz Vancouver
1996-1997 Diana Broome Vancouver
1997-1998 Rita Penco Vancouver
1998-1999 Carol Williams Vancouver
1999-2000 Barbara Holder Vancouver
2000-2001 Debbie Millward Vancouver
2001-2002 Patricia Cia Vancouver
2002-2003 Gael Blackhall Calgary
2003-2004 Claudette Cloutier Calgary
2004-2005 Keith Low Vancouver
2005-2006 Christina Zeller Vancouver
2007 Robyn McDowell Vancouver
2008 Susan McConkey Saskatoon
2009 Debbie Schachter Vancouver
2010 Frances Main Vancouver


Based upon information currently available, the following is a chronology of the significant events occurring during the history of the Western Canada Chapter. We look forward to hearing from Chapter members to help fill in the gaps. More complete lists are available through our Archives pages.


The Toronto Chapter served Western Canada, except BC which is part of the Pacific NorthWest Chapter. A group of Western Canada librarians (Bev Bendell, Diana Broome, Carl Harvey & Liz Johnson) surveyed SLA members in Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba asking for Chapter affiliation preferences, with the following results: Pacific NorthWest Chapter 31; Western Canada Provisional Chapter 34; Toronto Chapter 4.


During the first year of operations as Western Canada Provisional Chapter, the primary objectives were communication with members through newsletter and regional representatives; and quality programmes for continuing education. Membership increased from 28 to 70.


With an emphasis on programmes, WCPC was the first Canadian chapter to offer an SLA Continuing Education (CE) credit course (Managing in a Changing Environment). WCPC applied for a one-year extension as a provisional chapter.


Western Canada obtained full chapter status at the 1985 SLA Annual conference.


In its first year, WCC developed a tape library of Chapter programmes plus tapes from SLA annual conference; published a chapter membership directory; developed guidelines for regional programmes to ensure consistency of procedures; and completed the design of a Chapter logo for letterhead. The Chapter board started a public relations committee in order to represent the Western Canada Chapter by “communicating with industry and government to enhance the knowledge and awareness of the profession”; and to “educate potential employers as the capabilities and performance of special librarians and potential of professional information management and service.”


Programmes were extended into a third geographical area, Manitoba / Saskatchewan.


Chapter Eight (ISSN 0835-8761) replaced Alert as the WCC newsletter. The Chapter executive spread beyond Calgary with Randy Reichardt (Edmonton) serving as managing editor of Chapter Eight. The Board completed a Chapter Procedures Manual.


Yvonne Mack, based in Regina, was the first WCC president outside of Calgary. Yvonne instituted teleconference as means of holding executive meetings, ensuring for the first time that all chapter officers have the opportunity to fully participate. An employment manual and public relations brochure were produced.


Chapter membership reached 215.


This “Year of Transition” saw the restructure of the executive board to provide better geographic representation; the start of a strategic plan; efforts to control expenditures while providing high quality programming, and improving the quality and content of the newsletter.


With seven members in Vancouver (including the President), this marked the first year the majority of executive are away from Calgary. · Programme directors were now in every province within WCC. Chapter introduced promotioal mugs: “Librarians are AMAZING! We’ll help you find your way.” WCC participated in the first “Special Libraries Day” held at Canadian Libraries Association conference (June 1994 : Vancouver)


The Chapter established a Discussion List which has over 100 subscribers as of May 1995 · Linda Everett, WCC President wrote a letter to Business in Vancouver in response to a reference about librarians being obsolete. The Chapter handbook and bylaws were updated. Membership exceeded 300 ·an all time high.


In October 1995, for the first time in ten years, WCC / PNW members came together for a joint dinner. They met in Vancouver to hear Jane Dysart, SLA President, speak on “Taking Charge of our Future.” · In April 1996, WCC, PNWC, and Oregon Chapters held the first Regional Conference in Seattle


Chapter Eight was retired and in October 1996 editors produced an Internet newsletter, On the Edge. The Chapter Board began using e-mail for Board business such as agendas and informal discussion. SLA invited WCC to participate as a test chapter in SLA’s Virtual Association Initiative.


SLA named WCC the Virtual Chapter. Discussion list and WCC web site move to SLA’s hosting facilities. The Chapter web site content expanded to include Chapter business, employment handbook and professional development announcements. In September 1997, a new bulletin evolved — Wired West: Web Journal of the Western Canada Chapter (ISSN 1483-9288). The Chapter adopted a new chapter logo to reflect our geographical diversity. WCC received special mention in Information Outlook: “Western Canada Takes Virtuality to the Next Level” which highlighted the web streaming project of Edmonton Director, John Sinclair.


A strategic plan was formally developed, adopted and made available to all members via the WCC web site. The Board made a commitment to review the plan annually. Chapter by-laws were revised. The Board began posting meeting minutes to the web site. Students at UBC’s School of Library and Information Studies (SLAIS) created an SLA Student Chapter.


The Chapter produced a four-colour brochure on Member Benefits and posted contents to the web site. A catalogue of Chapter library holdings was made available to all members. The Board developed a budget based on the WCC strategic plan.


Strategic Plan was produced. SLA WCC brochure was published. SLA WCC Policy Committee was established: SLA WCC Procedures Manual was created. Special events: Convergence 2000- Celebrating 15 Years; hosted Canadian reception in Philadelphia.


SLA WCC Bylaws were reviewed and amended. The Chapter created a mentoring program for UBC SLAIS students. Special events: 2nd Annual Student/Practitioner Pub Night in Vancouver. Virtual programs were offered to members. Regions co-hosted events with other library associations such CASLIS, VALL, VOLUG, and Health Libraries Association of BC.


SLA WCC awarded the first SLA WCC Scholarship for Student Librarianship. Chapter created a WCC Travel Policy. New sponsorship packages were created. SLA WCC Bylaws Review. Archive collecting guidelines established. Website statistics recorded 6,700 visits per month, with approximately 220 per day. The most visited pages are Wired West, Employment and Programming. The year’s website highlights included the first chapter online Members Needs Survey, news and events focus on the home page, complete redesign of navigation, and archiving of the site to CD, as of April 30, 2003. Security standards established for the web site. Special events: Hosted Canadian reception in New York; Past Presidents Outlook Forum, January 2003; for the first time Annual General Meeting access in 6 locations (4 provinces) via teleconferencing.


SLA WCC bylaws amended to include Nunavut. New SLA WCC Governing Documents were posted on the chapter web site. The chapter brochure was redesigned. WCC web site received more than 8,500 visits per month, a 25% increase over last year. In May 2004 electronic voting on chapter business allowed. Events: SLA WCC hosted the Canadian reception in New York; events in all cities.


SLA WCC bylaws amended to include Nunavut. New SLA WCC Governing Documents were posted on the chapter web site. The chapter brochure was redesigned. WCC web site received more than 8,500 visits per month, a 25% increase over last year. In May 2004 electronic voting on chapter business allowed. Events: SLA WCC hosted the Canadian reception in New York; events in all cities.

June 2005-December 2006

SLA chapter governance structure changed to a calendar year. WCC completed the revision of SLA WCC procedures based on recommended practices. Fund Development Chair position changed to Fund Development Director, an elected position.

The Chapter website received 450-650 daily visits, and the statistics revealed that the most popular sections are Wired West and the employment page. Two new sections were added to the newsletter in 2005-2006: “Vendor News” and “My favourite websites.”During this period employment positions posted on the listserv were 1073 Canadian, 292 US and 48 international positions. Discussion List parameters changed to members only.

Special events: Hosted the Pacific Northwest Conference (WCC, Pacific Northwest Chapter and Oregon Chapter) Oct.6-7, 2007 in Vancouver. In addition SLA WCC Christina Zeller coordinated invitation, visit and also hosted Rebecca Vargha, President of SLA, during the conference. The chapter hosted the Canadian reception in Baltimore. Other events: The chapter provided a selection of complimentary virtual programs to members; Calgary and Edmonton Regions co-hosted with CASLIS to deliver “Making the Business Case” featuring Maggie Weaver; this seminar was also delivered to members in Vancouver and Winnipeg.


The chapter established an annual SLA WCC Travel Grant to send a new information professional member to the SLA conference. It also established the SLA WCC Outstanding Information Professional award. The student scholarship was changed to a door prize to be awarded to a student from UBC SLAIS and one from University of Alberta SLIS. For the first year, the Student Liaison Chair was held by the SLAIS coordinator and this has strengthened chapter relationship with SLAIS at UBC.

The chapter’s website receives 450-650 visits daily. In 2007, employment positions posted to Discussion List totaled 1124 Canadian, 80 US and 15 international. The chapter updated its brochure in 2007 and posted it on the website in PDF.

Archival collection was moved to a storage centre in Vancouver. A preliminary digitalization plan was prepared.

Special events included a multi-city speaker tour featuring Joe Matthews.