I can hardly believe summer is coming to an end and that the SLA annual conference was over two months ago.
In addition to the conference, my summer was consumed with a huge project at work: the simultaneous migration of our text and photo archive to a new system. I was however able to get in a 10-day vacation back home in Wisconsin, where I celebrated the “big birthday” I mentioned in my initial chair column, with family and friends.
In a past chair column and messages posted to NewsLib, I mentioned that the News Division was facing some serious challenges to its future, namely a marked decrease in our membership.
At the division’s annual board meeting in New Orleans, I introduced the idea of exploring an alignment with IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors). I had a conversation with IRE’s executive director, Mark Horvit, prior to the conference, and he was very excited about the possibility of working with our membership in either a formal or informal partnership. An enthusiastic conversation with one of our paper’s projects reporters, a long-standing member of IRE, made me even more excited about the idea.
Like many of you, I hold membership in both SLA and IRE and find both to be an equally important part of my professional development goals. One of the things about IRE that I found particularly appealing is the many workshops held across the country throughout the year and the organization’s increased emphasis on Web-based training, both attractive ideas for those of us who rarely get the opportunity to attend the SLA annual conference or are able to take advantage of training opportunities.
I appreciate the attendees at our business meeting letting me present my idea and sharing their thoughts. Concerns were voiced about an arrangement with IRE, namely the feeling that the organization would fail to meet the needs of some of our division members who work as full-time text or photo archivists or who work outside news organizations. I appreciate those concerns, but I also think some type of collaboration with IRE would be beneficial for us and provide growth opportunities.
A suggestion was made to survey our membership about their chosen professional memberships and about the IRE idea. I intended to create an online survey for that purpose after the conference, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, things got crazy at work with vacations and the migration project and my best intentions went awry. Look for the survey soon, I promise.
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In the meantime, our Chair-Elect-Elect and SLA 2011 conference planner Eli Edwards has been hard at work planning division programming for next year. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the conference, which leads me to a request. Since I won’t be in Philadelphia, I would deeply appreciate a volunteer to take over the role of planning the News Division’s Awards Reception. If you’re interested, please send me a message at adisch[at]dispatch.com. Thanks.