Juanita Richardson, new associate to Dysart & Jones Associates, is candidate for SLA Presidency.  Kudos to SLA for running q & a’s to help the membership get to know more about the wonderful slate of candidates.

SLA: When did you first join SLA?  What made you decide to join then, and why do you still belong today?

Juanita Richardson with two SLA Past Presidents, Jane Dysart & Stephen Abram, at OLA Superconference


I joined SLA in 1988 when I landed my first job as Assistant Librarian at ScotiaMcLeod (an investment bank) on the advice of my boss, mentor and friend, Angie Devlin.  I had been aware of SLA but, being new to Toronto at that time, didn’t realize how strong the SLA community was here.  I was – if you can believe it – a very shy young librarian and Angie convinced me that reaching out to the SLA community would be a great way to develop professionally and personally.  How right she was!  REASON #1: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

In less than a year, I was asked to take on my first “task” within the chapter:  I was responsible for thanking our speakers at one of the chapter meetings.  The speakers that evening included Stephen Abram, Rebecca Jones and Deirdre Grimes.  I don’t remember what they talked about but I certainly remember how nervous I was.  I had never done any public speaking before!  I had already written out my little thank you speech – completely unrelated to anything they said, I’m sure!  – waiting my moment when I would have to step up.  At the podium, there were small gifts I was to give to each of our speakers to thank them.  I read out my little speech, without looking at anyone on the stage … and raced away from the podium as quickly as possible … leaving the gifts behind at the lecturn.  Fortunately, Stephen, Rebecca and Deirdre had the grace to simply help themselves to the gifts without pointing out my oversight.  Even more fortunately, this was only my first of many roles with the Toronto Chapter, culminating in Chapter President in 1995.  REASON #2: ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN A NO-RISK ENVIRONMENT.

Why do I stay?  That reason is the easiest of all:  REASON #3: SLA IS MY CONNECTION.  When I talk about our annual conference, I talk about the chance to get together with 5,000 of my closest friends.  I have discovered that that very vibrant, welcoming community exists far wider than just in my local chapter.  As a member of SLA, I am a part of an extended network of professionals who work in a variety of different environments within many different industries.  It is my pleasure to be connected to this community and to contribute to the vibrancy and good health of our association.