Moving into 2020 with SLA Europe President Seema Rampersad
It is with great pleasure and honour to be SLA Europe President for 2020. It feels like it has been a long time in coming as I look back as a long-standing member of SLA. I have already blogged about my start in the profession and I have also written about the professional benefits of SLA as past SLA Europe Membership Chair. Both of these blog posts are still relevant, and therefore I wanted to tell you more about our hopes and plans for the year ahead.
We started January with the serious and important restructuring of SLA on all aspects of the business and core re-purpose of the organisation. This is a proactive strategy to ensure that members are getting value for money, but crucially to take stock the current direction of the organisation with streamlining and efficiencies in order for SLA to be sustainable in the short-term and long term. This restructuring initiative will also have an impact SLA Europe as a community, and for our members therefore we are in the process of clarifying our position. Some changes proposed will affect governance in local areas, membership choices and practicalities for you or your organisation as members.
There is also a proposed name change from SLA, which will be consulted on in the coming year. These plans aim to incorporate the new organisation name to attract the newer professional profiles and roles that reflect the modern information profession – be it data, analytics, knowledge management or good-old-fashion librarians. Most of the restructuring initiative is a positive move to ensure that we are better functioning in this new structure, and most importantly, supporting members and communities.
I urge you to look at this restructure initiative document (3), as well as feedback to us and/or headquarters on these proposals and changes. The SLA Europe Board are here to represent, listen and engage with our members – so please feel free to let us know your concerns or if there is anything else you would like to discuss by emailing
We will continue to work closely on shared goals and directions with other SLA’s geographical locations and divisions in these new communities to make connections, collaborate and communicate on the information profession and industry. We are actively looking at the format and content of events we host that will be beneficial to professionals and industry stakeholders. For this year’s professional agenda we are looking at hosting some new events, as well as some of our regular popular events such as: CPD talks, library and local tours, quiz and professional networking. These are still best for the face-to-face connections we make that prove to be beneficial for our own networks and development.
The professional topics in the pipeline for our events are on the cutting edge of new technological innovations such as Solids (https://solid.mit.edu/) to a historical and diverse walking tour of Brixton in Spring. This year, I am compelled to open up our career profiling to the less privileged and under-represented in society. For example, for our annual Career Stories event we hope to offer an outreach and inclusive theme to engage with youth and current members. We also hope to reach out to members who do not engage with us (though they may be quite happy to continue their memberships), offer virtual events in the form of webcasts, and touch base with all our members in one small way, or another. SLA Connect is great for this conversation, and I intend to use it more for 2020 and please do use it too! The world is diverse and inclusive – the workplace needs to reflect this.
We are beginning the planning of the next SLA Europe conference in 2021 on the European continent (watch this space!), and a few virtual events for those who cannot make physical meetings. We are aware that our membership is very geographically diverse –but we are working on reaching out regionally and making it more inclusive. It is difficult to host events in regional and continental areas due to lack of member engagement and logistics. However we would love to encourage you to arrange your local events and we are happy to support you whenever and wherever we can with administration, promotion, speakers or technology (webinars). I know we have a large number of our members outside the UK and I will be getting in touch soon with geographical areas to say ‘Hello’ but also to ask you how can we support each other more in Europe e.g. webinar from Sweden to other members globally.
This year we are collaborating with SLA headquarters and IFLA to host an evening reception in Dublin, so I will also be in touch with our Dublin membership to invite, engage, attend and promote this event. Our SLA Europe Board members are also very busy planning to co-host and collaborate on five events:
- NLPN (New Library Professionals Network) in Manchester on Saturday 8th February. See more: https://nlpn.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/nlpn-x-sla-europe/
- CILIP East and SLA Europe hosting a Quiz in Cambridge, Spring
- BIALL and CLSIG New Professionals Day, Spring
- CLSIG Innovations in business research, Spring
- IFLA, SLA and SLA Europe event in Dublin, Summer
- ILI Internet Librarian International Evening Event, October
These organisations and SLA Europe have common goals and therefore we can work together but still maintain our unique positions and support each other as information professionals.
Our 2021 SLA Europe Conference Planning Committee will hopefully be in place soon and we will start the process of organising the next conference. Our outgoing committee for 2019 with John Coll, Niamh Tumelty, planning committee and volunteers were hard working and excellent and have now set us with very high standards to aim for in the 2021 conference.
We are also looking later this year to engage with our past members and retirees for our 50th anniversary in 2021! We also need to make sure that we are offering our current members relevant skills for the technology, their communities and content that our information users will require and value now and in the future. We also need to keep abreast of the volatile digital age and ensure we maintain our high standards in information, integrity and professionalism. Our CPD programme and network will hopefully focus on some of these issues and encourage you to continue to lead in these areas.
We are keen to work with various sponsors and industry professionals to help us host and sponsor events. If you would like to be partners to help us deliver these reputable and highly recommended events and CPD programme with a wider coverage and audience that we consistently host.
I would like to remind you that as an organisation we are a global information and knowledge network, unique in our offering to niche, as well as general areas of the information profession. On this basis level, we are specialists in the digital age, and we are stronger together working towards providing better opportunities for ourselves to learn and support each other professionally. Your membership is what you make it!
I also wanted to say a special thanks to other past presidents such as Neil Infield, Penny Leach, Geraldine Clement Stoneham, John Coll, Katherine Schopflin, Marie Grace Cannon, Sam Wiggins, Don Roll and Simon Burton for your guiding hand, support and contribution. I also take this opportunity to thank our current board, volunteers and sponsors for their hard work, contribution and input. And a big welcome and thanks to our new volunteers. Bring on the rest of 2020!
Seema Rampersad currently works as a Senior Business Researcher and Service Manager at the Business & IP Centre at The British Library.