SLA name to stay SLA

The last few weeks have seen what must be the most hotly discussed library profession related topics since the (UK) Library Association changed its name in 2002 to CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

The results of the electronic voting was finally announced on 10 December on the SLA Blog SLA Name Will Stay: Alignment of Association to Continue. The vote against the new name was fairly convincing with 2071 voting yes and 3225 voting no.

Although I initially felt a bit deflated by the result after all the efforts those in favour, I was all too aware that the proposed new name was not particularly engaging. Although I wonder if we could ever find one that would be. At the previous failed name change vote in 2003, the choice was Information Professionals International, which to my mind is equally anodyne.

Perhaps the biggest mistake in the campaign was to give the impression we were moving away from the ‘L’ word rather than creating a bigger ‘tribe’ (to quote Seth Godin) in which librarians would be a big and welcome part. Many traditional librarians in the United States seemed to feel it was something of an either or situation.

Also the heat of the discussion has shown that although the stereotype of information professionals is of a shy and retiring middle aged woman wearing a bun, if they feel strongly about an issue, they are prepared to ‘storm the barricades’. I am reminded of the acknowledgement from Michael Moore, after librarians saved his book Stupid White Men from being pulped in the wake of the 9-11 attacks in America:

“I really didn’t realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group.
They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them. You know, they’ve had their budgets cut. They’re paid nothing. Books are falling apart. The libraries are just like the ass end of everything, right?”

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