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.
I’m stunned at the numbers. Not that membership overwhelmingly voted no, but that membership overwhelmingly voted. Over 5000 people voiced their opinion, which means they took the time to consider the options and vote. That makes me want to get even more involved and engage with other members about what the future of SLA should be and to see Alignment continue.
I do think that “failed to approve” is an unfortunate choice of words. There’s no failure here, the proposed name did not pass, it was rejected, but it did not fail. To me, failure implies that we weren’t supposed to have our own opinions about the name. I don’t think that’s actually the case, but it does make me wonder if maybe I should feel bad it didn’t pass?
The last time I blogged about the SLA name change, I admitted that I voted no with reservations. I understand why people are disappointed that ASKP didn’t pass. I won’t try to pretend I’m not happy we’re still SLA, but I don’t think it’s worth gloating about either. This has been a very trying episode for the organization, and hopefully we’re better for it in the long run. I hope the rejection of the proposed name will not derail the rest of Alignment, which I think is extremely valuable.
To me the worst thing about the SLA name process has been the bad attitudes and unprofessional behaviour that emerged in the discussion. I think some of the criticisms of condescension by SLA leadership when selling ASKP to membership is valid, but I also don’t think there was any malice, just poor communication. I think there could have been more outreach with the rank and file, but that’s something to work on in the future. There are hurt feelings on both sides which makes me sad, but I think we can overcome that. I am tired of people who aren’t SLA members jumping into the discussion in less than productive ways, but I think I’ll have to save that breakdown for a separate post.
For now I’m an SLA member and I’m happy to be one.
Oh, and I originally chose this picture because I liked the overtones about identity crisis and a play on names for things, but then I took a different tack. Yeah, it’s a dog in a hotdog bun. It’s a hot dog. Sort of like how information professional and library can be synonyms or not depending on the context. At the end of the day, it’s not a big deal.