SLA Name Non-Change

The Special Libraries Association has voted to keep it’s name, and not change to Association of Strategic Knowledge Professionals. I’m a member, and I found the whole debate really interesting.

Question to you, fair reader: What does Special Library mean to you? How about Strategic Knowledge Professional? Lie-berry and non-lie-berry people alike are welcome to comment!

Here’s the news release:

SLA Press Release – 10 December 2009

SLA Contact:
Cara Schatz
P: 703.647.4917

SLA Name Will Stay: Alignment of Association to Continue

Alexandria, Virginia, December 10, 2009- The Special Libraries Association (SLA) announced the results of its association-wide vote on a new name today. Voting in record numbers, SLA members failed to approve a proposal to change the organization’s name to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals. 50 percent of those members eligible to vote participated in the referendum, with 2071 voting yes and 3225 voting no.

“The active discussions, online and in local meetings, are a testament to the passion and commitment that knowledge and information professionals feel towards their association and their profession,” said Gloria Zamora, SLA 2009 President. “This level of engagement will help make SLA and its members more effective advocates for the information profession in the years ahead.”

The name change proposal stemmed from the findings of the Alignment Project, an intensive two-year research effort aimed at understanding the value of the information and knowledge professional in today’s marketplace and how to best communicate that value. “Our name will remain,” Zamora continued, “but we will go forward with developing opportunities for our members to use the Alignment findings to demonstrate their contributions to the organizations that employ them.”

“Information and knowledge professionals are critical assets to the organizations that employ them, yet their contributions and capabilities are too often underestimated,” said SLA CEO Janice R. Lachance. “The findings of the Alignment Project research will guide SLA in developing services and programs that will more successfully position these professionals in the marketplace and attract the recognition and compensation they deserve.”

About SLA
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves about 11,000 members in 75 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic, and government information specialists. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy, and networking initiatives. For more information, visit us on the Web at


5 responses to “SLA Name Non-Change

  1. Honestly?! I understand the importance of branding, image blah blah blah etc.. but for real? I remember we once hired someone at work who was also an Account Manager and he INSISTED his title be changed to Account Manager, Integrated Solutions. OK fine I get it, you want a title that better describes your day to day, but I really don’t think your peers, clients, patrons, whatever should be looking to your title to REALLY know what you do. If your actions don’t speak louder than the title under your name on your business card you are in a boat load of trouble!

  2. I am unfamiliar with this but…’Special Libraries Association’ to me means an association of persons involved with special (non-traditional libraries). Librarians would be a subset of people involved in the association. Whereas ‘Strategic Knowledge Professionals’ sounds like a more closely related group of persons involved, funnily enough with ‘Strategic Knowledge’.

    I would prefer a combination of the two names if it is meant to convey information to a person such as myself (Ugly but Witty).

  3. I have a suggestion- how about an acronym that reads something, like, F.R.A.N.K but stands for nothing. Oh, I have a good idea, B.O.O.K?! If and when people ask just raise an eye brow and create a facial expression that screams “you don’t know?!”

    LOVE it.

  4. Let’s all agree that ASKPro is a terrible name:

    You: I will be attending the ASKpro conference in Las Vegas next week.
    Boss: You’re fired.

    Strategic Knowledge Professional is somehow less descriptive than Special Librarian. Moreover, this is the name of the professional association, not a member’s job title which is likely to remain Librarian or Research Assistant or whatever.

    So this leaves the question of whether a name change is warranted regardless of the acronym.

    First, professional organizations or societies need not have a name that portrays precisely what their members do. The Association of Computing Machinery hardly describes what Computer Scientists do or the benefits they provide; the Canadian Information Processing Society doesn’t invoke the value that IT professionals provide to their organizations.

    Despite the names, these organizations remain respected and their members are valued.

    Second, In my humble opinion, Librarians are too concerned with their image, especially within the private sector. This, I think, is caused by fear that their work is not valued because budgets are being cut, positions eliminated, and work is being outsourced.

    Unfortunately, this is the reality of working in a support role in the private sector: whatever work being done that is not the business’s core competency is seen as a cost and will always be under pressure to be reduced, contracted out, or eliminated. The IT profession has already gone through this process and, it can be argued, their knowledge and skills are likely to be more valuable to businesses than librarians’.

    I believe the solution to this is not to worry about titles and image, but to do some of the things IT professionals have had to do: develop more flexible ways of delivering value, work for giant consulting firms, provide value by managing outsourcing projects, or develop and document best practices instead of focusing solely on service delivery.

    Finally, I’d like to suggest the name Centre for Utilizing Technoliterate Education Resources.

  5. Thanks so much for your comments everyone! It’s interesting to see what non-librarians think about librarians. Craig, thanks for your insights about people vs. people associated with a particular place (teh lie-berry!). Kat: I will bring the idea of a meaningless acronym to the Toronto Chapter… will let you know what they say… Sock: I totally agree. Way too much thought about image, without contributing to a far more important conversation about how we related to our clients.
    That said, I will bring the C.U.T.E.R. suggestion to the Toronto Chapter as well. I have a feeling we’re on to something here!