SILS students win SLA's Outstanding Innovative Programming Award

September 7, 2011

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) student group at the School of Information and Library Sciences (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been awarded a Certificate of Merit from the SLA Student and Academic Affairs Council. Awarded in June, the certificate recognizes the group’s innovative programming in the spring semester of 2011.
SLA is an international professional association geared toward librarians who do not work in traditional library settings. Rather, they use their skills in information agencies sponsored by private companies, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations or professional associations. With the goals of showing the diversity of special libraries and raising SLA’s profile within SILS and the wider university, the student group made highly visible marketing and engaging event choices the priorities for the semester’s programming. 

Jail graphic

The semester began with an information session where students could mingle with members of the state chapter of the SLA (NCSLA), special librarians, and students from North Carolina Central University (NCCU). In February, the SLA group organized a prison library tour at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, NC.

In March, they organized a discussion called “Clarifying Copyright: A Panel Discussion for Would-Be Information Pros,” with speakers including Laura (Lolly) Gasaway from the UNC School of Law and William Cross (SILS ‘11), then a digital copyright specialist for UNC Libraries who now heads the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center at NCCU.

Finally, the SLA student group teamed up with theStudent Chapter of the American Library Association (SCALA) to organize and create a circulating library for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC) in Chapel Hill. While SCALA focused on building a networked Microsoft Access database to manage holdings, the SLA officers supplied reference book recommendations and organized a fundraiser at Zog’s Pool Hall which raised about $300 toward purchasing these materials.

The SLA student group’s officers are Billy Cook (President), Courtney Cunningham (Vice President), Michael Hughes (Secretary), Liz Johns (Treasurer) and Lee Shaw (Webmaster). The group’s advisor is Rebecca Vargha, SILS Librarian and past president of the SLA.

“The award from SLA presented to the UNC Student Group of SLA recognizes the wonderful creativity, hard work and enthusiastic involvement of our student officers in planning leading-edge programs for graduate students at SILS,” said Vargha. “They also went the extra mile by reaching out to the local community to help build a library for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. It is an honor to work with such a talented group of individuals, who care about their community and work to make a real difference.”

Though deservedly proud of this recognition, the group is not planning to rest on its laurels this year.

“Although the first half of our time in office has been successful, we haven’t grown complacent,” said Cook. “In fact, we understand that our mission to raise awareness of the SLA at SILS has its greatest challenge ahead. In order to improve on our programming and increase participation with a new class of incoming students, we used the summer months to strategically plan and prepare for the fall semester.”

Accordingly, Cook reports that this semester students can look forward to SLA student events including a cookout, a networking dinner with North Carolina Central University students, and a surprise, high-profile guest speaker this semester. As reported in The Daily Tar Heel the SLA group recently received funds from the UNC Student Congress in order to make these events a reality.

The SLA student group information session and barbeque will take place at Battle Park on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 5:30 p.m. More information is available at their Web site.


SLA Student GroupThe SILS SLA Student Group from left to right, Billy Cook, Liz Johns, Michael Hughes, Courtney Cunningham and Lee Shaw.