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3 posts from February 2011

23 February 2011

President's Report: 2011 SLA Leadership Summit

By UNYSLA President, Amelia Birdsall

I left this year’s Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.  feeling great.  Three days in the company of smart, dedicated and fun information professionals left me feeling reinvigorated, and eager to get things done in our Upstate New York Chapter.  I spent much of the train ride home writing to-do lists and circling things in my notes, ready to get to work. 

This feeling isn’t a new one for me.   I usually feel this way when I leave an UNYSLA event.  No matter what our topic, at the end of the day I have new ideas to bring back to my office, and renewed energy about our profession.  Spending time with my SLA colleagues empowers me to think about my job and my professional life differently. 

The research shows that the more you put into your involvement in a volunteer-based organization, the more you get out of it.  With that in mind, I’d like to encourage you all to step-up your UNYSLA involvement this year.  Consider running for an elected position for 2012.  Join the board as a local area meeting planner or mentoring chair.  Or participate on one of several committees, like communications, vendor relations or membership.  Don’t feel that you have time for an official position?  Consider taking on a short term task, like coordinating carpooling to the SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia or researching virtual meeting tools.   It’s time to revisit the kinds of programs and educational opportunities the Chapter provides.   Contribute to the chapter by providing your ideas on types and topics of programs you’d like to see.   Invest you energy into your local chapter, and I bet you’ll be rewarded with more energy in return. 

A few highlights from the Leadership Summit:

  • Web changes aplenty:  Expect to see some major revisions to SLA.org, putting resources you need and use right up front.  There will also be changes to unit (Chapter & Division) webpages.  An SLA committee has created a Wordpress template to unify the unit pages and make us look like we’re all part of the same organization!
  • Philadelphia 2011 is going to be pretty cool.  Not only is it super-close for our Upstate New Yorkers, keynote speakers Thomas Friedman and James Kane should be great.  If you haven’t heard of him, Kane is an expert on loyalty, and will also be working with one lucky chapter on a loyalty-related project.  
  • SLA President Cindy Romaine’s Future Ready 365 blog is dynamic and exciting.  We’re all invited to share a post on how we’re “future ready,”  preparing ourselves for what’s next in the information world.  It’s alignment in action.  


22 February 2011

2010 UNYSLA Business Meeting & Dinner




The transfer of the gavel from Elaine Lasda Bergman to UNYSLA's newest President, Amelia Birdsall.





Networking dinner at The Ginger Man.

Can't We All Just Get Along?: Conflict Management

By Alexandria Wisker

Dean Sue Faerman provded an excellent workshop for those who attend the Fall 2010 UNYSLA Meeting at SUNY Albany. Dean Faerman, the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education at the school, discussed Effective Ways to Manage Conflict.

She began be addressing the fact that for many, the idea of confronting conflict is not an easy thing to do. Dean Faerman admitted that managing conflict is not something you can learn to do overnight, but that it can be done.  There is also information which can be gathered when manageing conflict, and often times a solid resolution can occur. This led to a discussion on how people with different experiences, ideas, backgrounds, etc. work together, more complete information and knowledge can be brought to the table, new ideas can be proposed, and higher quality decisions can be created. However, decision processed can take more time, individuals with expertise may not contribute, and consensus can become the overall goal, as opposed to making a good decision for the organization. Dean Faerman discussed that conflict can be good, as long as there is not too much of it.

Collaboration is one of the methods for solving conflict which she addressed. There are many steps in the process. They are:

  1. Face the conflict. (This can be the hardest step. Recognizing there is a conflict and being willing to address it are often times separate steps within themselves.)
  2. Plan to meet in a neutral environment.
  3. Allow each person a chance to state his or her personal feelings about and views of the conflict in a clear, non-threatening way. (Each person who speaks needs to speak with the other person completely listening. There should be no interruption. A distinction is that listening is not agreeing, it just means you are willing to listen.)
  4. Work to develop a mutual definition of the conflict in terms of needs. (What is actually going on?)
  5. Try to generate potential solutions.
  6. Each person should then identify some preferred solutions, thinking about why these solutions best meet their needs. (Are there potentially collaborative solutions already on the table?)
  7. Determine whether any of the preferred solutions coincide or what sorts of compromise are required to allow them to come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
  8. Once the solution has been identified, decide who will do what and when it will be done.

Another reason conflict occurs is because two people can see the same event in two completely different lights. Compounding this can be that expectations, rules, and behaviors were not completely outlined. Being aware of this can help make solving conflict easier. Ask, what are you expectations? What do you do and don’t expect? What do you see? By being clear about all of this, everyone’s position can be seen in a clearer light.

The ladder of inference was also discussed by Dean Faerman. It is a way that we go from an event occurring to an idea that may not be correct. (An example would be someone is late for a meeting and doesn’t say why. The end inference would be that the person could not be counted on because they are irresponsible.)

Ultimately, Dean Sue Faerman presented quite a lot of information in her two hour presentation. She gave information that will help lead to consensus building in many aspects of our work. It can take time and energy to create an answer which everyone has taken part in, but the result is worth it. Her information was valuable and will be used by all who were attendance.

Alexandria Wisker is currently in a dual masters program at SUNY Albany. She will be graduating in May 2011 with her MSIS and an MA in History. She received a BA in History from there in 2008. She is open to a lot of different library work, and is looking forward to working full time in the field.

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