The Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals

I had a feeling my last post (Would a librarian by any other name smell just as sweet) might not be my final word on the subject.

What I hadn’t anticipated was just how much heat the name change vote would generate. It is quite rare to see information professionals in ‘passionate mode’, but this issue has brought plenty out of the woodwork on discussion lists, blogs, facebook and twitter. Here are links to a selection; Am I a Strategic Knowledge Professional, ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy

As I mentioned before, the membership of SLA contains 2,000 different job titles, what I wasn’t aware of was the fact that only 25% of members use the title librarian. So already the term is a minority within the organisation.

Amongst the passionate comments attacking the new name have been a few calmer rational ones which I include below:

  • If we were not called the Special Libraries Association I believe many more people who are in the information profession would find a professional home with us.  The new name is meant to be broadening and inclusive.
  • But I want to be fair: it’s easy to criticise and far harder to take a leadership role and come up with alternative ideas which pedantic old cynics like me might take a shine to and approve!
  • SLA leadership has been between a rock and a hard place on this issue for some time and it’s to their credit that they have been trying to do something, even if I don’t hugely like the result.
  • I think the old name is life-expired and something new is indeed needed.
  • Imagine trying to find one name to cover everyone who works in the medical profession. Doctors, consultants, surgeons, nurses, secretaries, hospital managers. All quite different jobs all supporting patients either directly or indirectly.
  • As a member, I wouldn’t feel that we’re obliged to call ourselves Knowledge Professionals.  That certainly doesn’t describe what I do, it would sound a bit pretentious – for me.
  • Having read up, I realised that “new-SLA” wants to embrace folk like KMs and CIOs, not just the librarian/info. pro community.  So the focus is broadening, but not changing to exclude librarians.
  • My feeling is:  if that’s the case, well so be it, “librarian” won’t do for a KM or CIO.  The natural response to that is, of course, well “knowledge” won’t do for me!
  • I wouldn’t mind being a librarian member of a “strategic knowledge professionals” association.  It doesn’t mean I have to change what I call myself or what I do, in fact it would probably send the message to anyone reading my CV that I’ve a broader remit than might be implied by the title “librarian”.
  • Being Europe-based, if I’m going to be a member of another professional body it’s easier to justify and better for my career and CV if it has a less CILIP-duplicating slant.

Hopefully the excitement will calm down as we move towards the name change vote in November, and we can start planning for the next 100 years of the association confident in the knowledge that knowledge (sorry couldn’t resist) will still have resonance and meaning in 2109.

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