22 March 2021
Special Libraries Association.

In 2020, the Illinois Community of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) faced a new challenge: how to make members feel engaged and connected to their association and fellow members when in-person events were no longer an option. As president-elect, I was responsible for the bulk of our programming. Our most-loved events were all cancelled, including an in-person symposium, regional dine-arounds, and library tours.

Like many other organizations, we pivoted to exclusively virtual events. We seized the opportunity to work with other SLA communities in the Midwest to hold the first ever SLA Midwest Symposium, a revival of sorts of the SLA Great Lakes Symposium last held in the 1990’s. The symposium featured lightning talks, keynote sessions, and virtual networking sessions, enabling our members to discuss (and commiserate) topics related to working during the pandemic. We opened the event to the public, and had librarians attend from across the US and Canada. When it’s safe, we hope to hold the event in-person, but holding a new event virtually granted us flexibility and agility that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

This year, we will hold the second annual virtual SLA Midwest Symposium in June and continue to offer registration to any librarian who is interested. As president, I’m excited to see how the event grows and brings librarians of different career-types together. The current board is focused on partnerships with related organizations, and how academic, public, and special librarians can learn from one another. Our next open event is April 5th, a virtual tour of the Field Museum Library. To register for this event, or find out about other upcoming programming, visit the SLA Illinois Community Website.

Today's guest blogger is Kristin Stutzman. She is a Competitive Analysis Specialist at Caterpillar, Inc. Kristin is also the President of the SLA Illinois community.