Meet Deb Hunt: Candidate for SLA President-Elect 2012

The candidates for 2012 SLA President-elect, David Cappoli and Deb Hunt, were interviewed by e-mail for NEWS LIBRARY NEWS, so members can get to know them as voting takes place September 7 – 28, 2011. Deb Hunt’s responses follow in their entirety.

Deb Hunt

1. Why are you running for president of SLA?

I bring proven leadership skills to this position. I have prior experience as a Director on the SLA Board of Directors, as Chapter President and in many other leadership positions in the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter and in SLA divisions. I’m an innovator as the creator and team leader of SLA’s 23 Things. The 23 Things contributed to a mindset change for SLA members and enables us to embrace new technologies, new tools, get ahead of our users and to lead rather than follow. For this effort, I was awarded an SLA Presidential Citation by Stephen Abram.

I know how to get things done, grow new leaders, and create and strengthen programs for our members.

I’ve demonstrated my adaptability and flexibility as my career has taken many turns. A few years ago, I was laid off from my job at the Exploratorium after 14 years of working there. I was able to ramp up my consulting firm, but it was still a big adjustment. Over the years, my consulting work has evolved in a way that I think mirrors what I see happening in the job market for us as information professionals. When I started consulting many years ago, I mostly did value-added research and library design and automation. Soon my library automation clients asked me how they could organize their internally created content so it would be as easily accessible as the library collection. That is how I added document and enterprise content management to the services I offer. Most of my clients are not libraries.

2. You are elected the leader and the public face of SLA, and you’ve been invited to a regional roundtable forum of C-suite executives, nonprofit heads, and other leaders. This is a chance to introduce the organization and members. What do you tell them?

What keeps you awake at night?

In today’s fast-paced world, the need for information is an invaluable commodity. Information, both internally- and externally-produced, is the lifeblood of an organization and essential for innovation and survival. Information sharing, finding and reuse are also essential for any organization that is attempting to understand and manage its intellectual capital and thrive in these trying economic times.

Information professionals play a unique role in gathering, organizing and coordinating access to the best information sources for the organization, understanding the critical need of turning that information into usable knowledge.

A study conducted by SLA found that eighty-five percent of the companies ranked in the top 100 on the Fortune 500 list employed information professionals, compared to less than fifty percent of the companies ranked in the bottom 100. SLA is a global professional association of 9,500 innovative information professionals and their strategic partners who are ready to put your organization over the top. What steps are you taking to differentiate your business from the next and maintain your company’s sustainability?

3. The News Division: what are your impressions? What would you like to see us address?

Over the years, I’ve been most acquainted with my News Division colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle and have been saddened to see them go from some 18 staff down to 2. I know the News Division has experienced a drop in membership, but I believe that those who are left form the new core of this division, which will be the community for info pros in any of the news-related industries and organizations.

There are two things I’d like to see the News Division address:

  1. An updated division website. As a web project manager at the Exploratorium in San Francisco for 12 years, with our team winning 4 Webby awards, I know that an engaging and up-to-date website can keep members engaged and encourage new members to join. Daniel Lee and his WordPress team can work with the News Division to make a new site a reality. I encourage you to consider this as a marketing, retention and community tool for division and potential members.
  2. A more difficult issue that I see the News Division (46% decline in membership since 1994) and all SLA members facing, and I’m sure you are all aware of this, is the downturn in organizations feeling the need to hire and retain librarians and information professionals.

One of our News Division colleagues was recently profiled in a two-part professional development workshop which I co-presented to SLA colleagues in the San Francisco Bay Area. We named a group of our colleagues “Famous Front Runners” who have successfully navigated the job upheavals going on all around us. That Front Runner is Leigh Montgomery, whose personas include:

  • Artful Dodger
  • Chameleon
  • Future Ready
  • Shape Shifter
  • Survivor

Leigh was able to survive and even thrive by deploying a combination of strategies:

  • Finding new revenue streams for her employer
  • Applying new technologies to improve productivity
  • Reinventing and repositioning herself
  • Demonstrating and increasing her core value to the organization

We can build on our past, but we must look ahead to the future. I see my colleagues struggling with layoffs and job insecurity. Yet there are vast opportunities for information professionals and I want to see us benefit from those opportunities. We must think outside the box, continually honing our skillset so we can go wherever there is opportunity to ply our trade.

Photo courtesy SLA

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