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Special Libraries Association (SLA)

1. Introduction: The Special Libraries Association (SLS) was founded in 1909 in the United States by a group of librarians working in specialized settings, led by John Cotton Dana, who served as the first president of SLA from 1909 to 1911. Special Libraries Association is an international professional association for library and information professionals working in business, government, law, finance, non-profit, and academic organizations and institutions. Its Headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia. The SLA is now an international organization with over 9,000 members in over 75 countries. The association’s tagline is “Connecting People and Information”.

2. Aims and Objective: The goal of SLA, as stated in the first issue of Special Libraries, was to “unite in co-operation all small libraries throughout the country; financial, commercial, scientific, industrial; and special departments of state, college and general libraries; and, in fact, all libraries devoted to special purposes and serving a limited clientage.”

3. Organization: The SLA is organized by 55 regional Chapters. Additionally, the SLA also has a number of Divisions devoted to specific topic areas. Many Divisions also include Sections for sub-specialties. The SLA is governed by a board of directors who are elected by the membership according to the parameters set out in the SLA’s bylaws. The board of directors is responsible for the overall direction and management of the SLA and selects the organization's officers. The board of directors is led by a president who is elected for a one-year term. The association has an employees of the association called chief executive officer (CEO) - selected by the board oversees the day-to-day management and functions of the SLA. The CEO is considered an employee of the SLA and serves an open-ended term. Each of the regional Chapters and topical Divisions of SLA also elects officers and conducts meetings in a similar fashion to SLA.

SLA membership is open to any person or organization. Members pay annual dues to SLA and additional fees for any Chapter, Division, or Caucus memberships they wish to obtain. Members of SLA typically possess a master's degree in library or information science and may have an advanced degree in a related field such as law, medicine or engineering. Members are entitled to vote in board elections for each Chapter or Division in which they pay dues.

4. Functions and Activities: SLA activities include conferences, professional education, networking and advocacy.

a) Seminars / Conferences: SLA conducts two large-scale conferences each year- Annual Conference and Leadership Summit. The Annual Conference, usually held in the summer, includes education programs, networking events, and information exhibits; the other is an annual Leadership Summit each winter, which is focused on developing leadership skills for governance roles within the SLA.

b) Publications: SLA publishes Information Outlook (formerly Special Libraries), a bimonthly online professional/trade magazine. Members receive free digital access to the current issue as well as past issues via SLA’s webpage. The magazine is sent free of charge to all members eight times in a year.

c) Awards: Fellows of SLA is awarded to mid-career SLA members in recognition of past and present achievements and future service. No more than five SLA members can be selected as a Fellow in any given year. John Cotton Dana Award is given to an individual in recognition of a lifetime of achievement. Presidential Citations are given to SLA members for important or notable contributions advancing the SLA’s goal or objectives during the previous year. SLA Hall of Fame is presented to an SLA member near the end of their professional career in recognition of service and contributions to the SLA and its goal and objectives. SLA Rising Star Award is presented annually to up to five new SLA members who have been members for no more than five years and show exceptional promise of leadership and contribution to the association and profession. Several other awards are given out at the Chapter and Division level as well at the SLA Annual Conference.

5. Conclusion: The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofits global association for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA members fill many non-traditional librarian roles such as corporate competitive intelligence analyst, researcher, or information specialist and explored and shard their vision of the competencies and skills required for special librarianship in many forms over the years.
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