First, I want to tell every one of you who voted “THANKS.” I’ll work hard to make sure the best interests of the association—and therefore your interests—remain front-and-center. And to those who didn’t vote, well…you get a wag of the finger and a stern look. And a polite, throat-clearing cough.
In many ways, the campaign served to prepare me for office. I’m a different person than the one who started the journey so long ago. (It was a long time ago, because “election months” are like dog years). Before I turn the page and take on this new role, I want to reflect on some things I learned as a candidate.
I learned to blog. It seems easy enough: write a bit about something that interests you, then post it. The hard part is looking at your interactions and activities as if they are something that someone else should be interested in. My constant debate with myself was whether or not what I thought was intriguing was blog-worthy. Reflecting on issues and events and how to share your thoughts on them is a good tool for your toolbox.
Be more extroverted than you are. Usually I just let life wash over me, but now I have to pick up the shiny things I see and show them to others. If you’re usually introverted, it takes a real effort to be extroverted. I’m still coming to grips with that, to be honest.
Use Web 2.0 tools. My blog automatically updates to my LinkedIn account and my Twitter account, enabling me to reach a lot of members at the same time. And my Twitter account updates to my Facebook site. Isn’t that cool!?!
Look for the spirit of generosity. I was constantly humbled at the idea of people believing in me enough to donate their time and energy to a fellow member. Our Association runs on good will and generous souls, and I didn’t always see the magnitude of that compassion before the campaign.
Others can rely on you and you won’t break. You can volunteer to do stuff that benefits others more than yourself and it feels good. It is enlightened self-interest—you get back more than you give. And you will have a new way to define “riches.”
I can rely on others. They won’t break, either. People came through; they care. They want me to carry their concerns forward.
You can’t – and shouldn’t – do it all yourself. Relying on others isn’t always easy. I’ve always been able to meet deadlines and check off tasks on my own. But running for office is not a solo effort. So I learned to collaborate better and to involve others by articulating a simple vision. They, in turn, spread the message further. I think if we can get this concept right, eventually we’ll be able to empower a movement.
It’s going to be tough. Not everyone agrees on the direction, the vehicle, or the speed we need to travel. Some people don’t think we need to go anywhere and some want to go twice as fast as we can safely manage. Balancing those demands will be tricky. My hope is that if I listen to as many members as I can, I’ll get good guidance about the best path forward. But make no mistake: we are moving forward.
It’s going to be the most fun we’ve had lately. I felt fantastic energy at some of the question-and-answer sessions. Members care deeply about our direction, and when they sense positive change is coming, they feel good about it. Strategizing about the future can be a lot of fun when you believe in the journey.
Business savvy is key. We know our jobs and our tools, and we’re darn good at what we do. We satisfy customers every day, and we push ourselves to do it better. But knowing the ins and outs of the information landscape isn’t enough. For our profession, our association, and our careers, we need to get better at the business of business. Becoming fluent in “business speak” is crucial to making us Future Ready.
Don’t booby-trap yourself. Sometimes the crazy new idea you get late at night isn’t all that great when the sun comes up. My own natural exuberance can be a bit spontaneous. I’ve learned to fit myself with a restrictor valve in order to be critical and cautious. The stakes are higher now. Because of the office that you have entrusted to me, I face more scrutiny, and people will be holding me up to a higher standard.
At the same time, I have to be myself. Go figure!
I don’t know everything—and don’t have to. “WE are the smartest ones in the room,” as the saying goes. Figuring out how to use the strength of others is the hallmark of a leader. A strong rope is made up of many individual strands. My take is that the more voices we hear consistently, the better our Association gets.
I’ve got to go draw a new map now. I think it has your name on it!
At long last, the summer is over and members are casting their ballots. For candidates, these are tough days. Did we do enough? Did we explain our positions clearly? Could we have written one more article, fired off one more email, or made one more phone call? It’s almost moot now; the voters are speaking. But in the spirit of never quitting, I want to post my version of a 2009 Voting FAQ:
Why vote? If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. It’s really that simple. You like to complain don’t you? So you better vote. Voting is not required in a legal sense—but hopefully you feel its your civic duty. It’ll take about five minutes to mark the ballot. And, by the way, this is the same advice I have for any election.
I don’t know enough about the candidates to know who to vote for. From my perspective as a candidate, I’ve done things that I never did before in making this run, and I could use a nap. I made a YouTube video that was a little nerve-wracking. I traveled to far-flung chapters, in my own version of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” and went through some tough question-and-answer sessions. Please look at the information on the SLA candidate’s page so you can form an opinion.
Cindy, you are running for office, why are you not saying “vote for me”? The rules are such that we can only say “vote” and not advocate for one candidate or the other—even if I am one of the candidates. Many of our election protocols have been overtaken by the numerous social networking tools now at our disposal, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. The new Internet tools have broadened our election’s reach and may even enable a candidate from Durban or Tokyo to make a bid for election.
Who are you voting for? I’m staying neutral, but here’s a story: My father was in an election a long time ago and he thought it would be the “gentlemanly” thing to do to cast his vote for his worthy opponent. He lost by one vote.
No, really. Why vote? Only 25% of the membership votes in most volunteer organizations, so your vote has an undue influence. You are kind of voting for three other silent voters.
What can you do for me? You mean I have to do something if I’m elected? I thought I was just going to be a powerless figurehead, a pretty face! What DID I signed up for?! Kidding. I have a ton of ideas and I would love to share them with you. Check out all the posts on this blog for information.
Now, go vote!
On June 22, 2009, the New York Chapter of SLA celebrated our 100th Anniversary, plus its own 90th anniversary, with a great big helping of New York finery. The event was held in the elegant University Club in Manhattan. Here’s the Wikipedia entry for this amazing place.
Through my travels to a few chapters, I’ve noticed that they each seem to have their own style and feel. Every chapter crackles with enthusiasm and professionalism, but the “flavor” varies. Southern California is, as you might expect, laid back and mellow, while the Bay Area is open and accepting and, dare I say, “groovy.” The Seattle chapter feels earnest and warm, even on a rainy day. But I have to say that on this night, at least, New York had a classy feel that really reflected well on our association.
Everything at the New York event was, as my Dad might say, “top drawer,” as the event planning committee secured sponsorship from a dozen vendors a month before the markets dipped. From the sparkling drinks to the table that looked like it was set with spun sugar for a family wedding, the evening had an elegant, decorative feel.
After hors d’oeuvres, we were shown to our table. Guy St. Clair, one of SLA’s past presidents, was the master of ceremonies and keynote speaker. I’ve known Guy for years, and I always find him energizing. In addition to a deep knowledge of SLA’s formative years, which he tapped to write the book about our history, Guy is a global consultant with a focus on helping businesses transition to a knowledge-centric culture in their organizations and businesses.
Guy shared with us stories of SLA’s past from his book SLA @ 100. As you may know, SLA was originally incorporated in New York; some of its first documents were bibliographies.
“It is an amazing story, this history of SLA, and in this book the author has taken every opportunity to present a fair and honest telling. Not only does St. Clair trace the highlights of the Association’s history he also tells the story as a story. “
There were 16 past SLA NY chapter presidents in attendance that night, so the room buzzed with power and prestige. Also attending was Gloria Zamora, SLA’s current president; Anne Caputo, SLA’s president-elect. With myself and Agnes Mattis—both SLA’s candidates for president-elect—the next generation of SLA presidents were in attendance, too. All in all, it was a great evening, and it reminded me of how proud I am to be part of such a noble profession.
When I tell my colleagues I’m running for President-Elect of SLA, some of them ask me, with looks ranging from skepticism to awe, “Why do you want to do this?” A lot of answers have been tumbling out, and I don’t know if I’ve answered the question the same way twice. Just a few short months ago, one of the reasons, I thought, was to give back to all the wonderful mentors I’ve had. But I’m finding, really, it is enlightened self-interest. There is truth in the old saying that the more you give, the more you get.
People are so willing to share their insights, stories and vision for SLA. They want me to know how to move the Association forward. They—you—are trusting me with your insights.
It took a huge dose of courage to step up to this election, and to be honest there is a lot of self-doubt that goes into being a candidate for office. It’s akin to what Joseph Campbell wrote about in his epic Hero With a Thousand Faces. Early on there is a key part of every good story called “The Refusal of the Call.” This is where the reluctant hero argues against his logical path of action and tries to back out. It’s where Luke Skywalker basically told Obi-wan, “Look, I hate the Empire as much as anyone, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.” It’s what I told myself a thousand times. And then…I agreed to place my name on the ballot.
But now, I’m really glad I stepped up—it’s been an honor already. I don’t know for sure how this ends, but I’m going to give it my best. You’ve entrusted me with your support and wisdom. I’m going to return the favor.
It’s really about volunteerism, in a new wordrobe (get it? word-robe! ha!). Maybe it’s volunteerism on steroids. Its not by any means an American trait. It has its roots in Old World philanthropy and noblesse oblige, in what Alexis de Tocqueville called “enlightened self-interest.”
I want to do my part to make SLA “Future Ready” because I believe it’s critical for the organization. It’s also in my own self-interest to make sure we’re ready for the next stage.
So, what’s in it for you? What enlightened benefits are you getting from your participation in SLA?
The 2009 SLA Conference kept me far too busy to blog, but I’m finally catching my breath. I suppose I could have blogged every day and Twittered away to keep my peeps on the edge of their chairs, but I didn’t feel moved to stop and write things down until the crowning event at the Library of Congress.
Two nights ago, to celebrate the SLA’s 100th anniversary, the Awards Reception was held in the Great Hall. It was magical–and a very, very nice way to cap off the conference. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, spoke earlier in the day, and called librarianship a “sacred mission,” which touched everyone in the room. In the cathedral of the Library of Congress’ Great Hall, that mission becomes real.
I talked earlier in this blog about our “noble calling” so you know I’m a believer in the future of libraries. I interned at the Library of Congress in 1981, and I was entranced the whole night, going through my own personal way back machine. What will the next 100 years bring?
Meanwhile, the conference is over! And what a whirlwind; it was totally exhausting, but in a nice way. For SLA, it was a really good conference: lots and lots of people, plenty of attentive vendors, and no real problems. The sessions I attended were spot-on.
It was a totally different conference being a candidate for President-Elect. I was very busy trying to be in all the right places and to shake hands and share ideas with as many people as possible. I always wish I could go to more sessions.
Today, I’m so tired that I’m losing body parts—first my smile faded, then my eyes were shot, then my voice went, and finally my feet had to be wrapped in band-aids from all the walking around. But I feel cautiously optimistic that I have a done my best. I wanted to take advantage of this gathering of the tribe to meet as many members as I could, and to share ideas with them. People were very positive and supportive about my message: Future Ready.
What’s next? For now, I’ll visit my daughter in New York City and drop in on the SLA 100th Anniversary festivities there. It’s my next ticketed event!