Run up to the Olympics

Olympic rings on Tower bridge July 2012

We’re one day away from the official start of the London 2012 games, and London (if not the UK) is being engulfed in Olympic atmosphere. At the SLA conference in Chicago last week lots of people asked me about my reaction to London staging the Olympics. In true British style I replied whingeing about the traffic chaos I’d have to endure! There’s been a lot in the UK media this week telling us all to rejoice in the Olympics being here, but for those of us in London we’re still all grumbling about our journeys to work.

Maybe, however, with the opening ceremony tomorrow we’re beginning to revel in the joys of being host city! I’ve started a daily count of sightings of volunteer ambassadors (10 yesterday) and security folk (1 yesterday and 1 this morning) I see around London.  While today the torch relay is making it’s penultimate journey around boroughs in London, before heading for the Thames tomorrow. Its route today is close to my office so I took the opportunity to watch and get into the Olympic spirit. I got to work early at 0745 to go and watch the torch go down Rosebery Avenue. Olympic torch coming down Roseberry AvenueWe were lucky to be on a road where spectators were only one person deep, the police were helpful and friendly and it was amusing to watch people coming out of their offices with mugs of coffee to watch. Bemused cyclists, busy commuting to work  and unaware of the torch behind them, were greeted with cheers as though they were competing in the Tour de France.

The actual torch bearer was preceded by several sponsors’ buses handing out streamers and flags, and several police outriders, all of whom waved, smiled and said hello.  The Metropolitan Police must be getting a lot of valuable PR out of the torch relay.

Olympic torch passing by It was all over in a flash after the torch bearer ran past, and life returned to normal for all of us.   It was a great way to start the day and here’s hoping the next 2 weeks or so are equally as fun. Just don’t ask me about my commute!

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SLA’s strategic vision – what will you contribute to making it a reality?

How many of SLA’s members are aware of the work done by the Board last year to create a new strategic vision for the association?  Not enough would probably be a good guess. Cindy Romaine wrote a detailed blog post in Nov 2011 outlining the development of the strategy and the next steps in making it a reality. The vision is a bold one which provides a roadmap for activity over the next few years:

SLA is a vibrant, global association of professionals who are employed in every sector of the information and knowledge economy. Our members thrive where data, information, and knowledge intersect and our strategic partners support SLA because they believe in the association’s mission and the future of its members. The goal of SLA is to support information professionals as they contribute, in their varied and evolving roles, to the opportunities and achievements of organizations, communities, and society.

In making the vision a reality the Board is concentrating on five key areas. Each area is being led by Board members and there should be reports on all the activities at conference in Chicago later this month.

  • Annual conference – what should this look like in the future? Should there be more virtual activities?
  • Professional development – how do we integrate and develop professional development offerings using technology; what will the revised competencies offer us?
  • Creating a richer volunteer experience – what can we learn from the loyalty project and from our members’ experiences of volunteering following the recent survey?
  • New markets through collaboration – what new markets can we find through learning and networking initiatives and through non-traditional collaboration efforts?
  • Growth through diversification- how do we appeal to new members in allied fields?

I’d advise all members to review the helpful presentation from Anne Caputo (SLA past President) which was part of Leadership and Management division’s recent webinar on SLA’s strategic vision. Also ensure you attend relevant meetings at conference (such as Leadership Orientation and Cabinet Meetings on Tuesday 17 July from 4pm) to find out more about making the vision a reality and asking questions about how it’s implemented.

SLA is our association and we all need to contribute to making the vision a reality. I took part in last month’s survey on volunteering experience circulated by Liz Blankson-Hemans and Mary Ellen Bates, who are leading the work on ‘Creating a richer volunteer experience’. I was very impressed with the survey questions, they really made me analyse what I’d got out of my volunteer experience from both SLA and other associations. So I’ll be interested to see how my responses chimed with others and how these can be used to create a richer experience in SLA. I’ve also been thinking about what the future of annual conference could look like: would it work if it was every other year? I think it might just work, but only if supplemented by more use of technology to allow people to communicate more regularly. I see that ALA is changing the way it does its conference, is there anything we can learn from them or from others who are changing their conference model? And from the professional development perspective could there be some opportunities for partnering with an organisation, like the Open University, to offer discounted access to some of their CPD programmes?