Special Libraries Association
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
SLA and Special Libraries
What is a Special Librarian?
Although SLA wasn't officially formed until 2 July 1909, the history of special librarianship as a profession dates back to the original formation of the National Association of State Libraries in 1889. Since that time the profession has gone through significant change in terms of education, purpose, services and technology.
According to SLA, a special librarian is an "information resource expert dedicated to putting knowledge to work to attain the goals of their organizations. They are employed most frequently by corporations, private businesses, government agencies, museums, colleges, hospitals, associations and information management consulting firms." Their key function is to 'add value to information' and 'facilitate decision making' within their organizations.
SLA has published a report Competencies
for Special Librarians of the 21st
Century, which outlines the competencies and skills needed "to allow the special librarian to function in a variety of environments and to produce a continuum of value-added, customized information services that cannot be easily duplicated by others."
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) mission is "to advance the leadership role of special librarians in putting knowledge to work in the information society." Through a variety of programs and services, the organization is committed to the profession's growth and aims to develop the profession to meet the challenges of the changing information management and technology environment.
SLA is organized into 57 regional chapters which elect officers, issue bulletins or meeting announcements, hold three to nine program meetings during a year, and initiate special projects. Membership in one chapter is part of the national membership fee. The UNC student chapter will announce any upcoming events of the North Carolina Chapter.
SLA is also organized in 25 Divisions representing subject interests, fields, or types of information-handling techniques. Each Division elects officers, publishes a bulletin or newsletter, and most conduct professional programs during the Association's Annual Conferences. Membership in one division is part of the national membership fee.
Conferences and Events
SLA, at the national and local levels, host a variety of events, programs and conferences to keep members current on the trends, challenges and issues facing the profession.
Full calendar of events
SLA publishes a variety of print, electronic, audio and video resources on the profession.
The SLA was created to allow librarians in specialized disciplines and non-traditional careers to share advice and network. With the growing diversity of library positions, the SLA encompasses a wide variety of careers.