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SELA 1990’s:  A Decade in Transition

Southeastern Library Association members started off the decade focused on preparations for the 1991 White House Conference on Library and Information Science.  Local and regional meetings were held to gather opinions and pinpoint directions for this second national gathering of librarians and advocates.  An ad hoc task force chaired by Charles Beard met from August 16th – 18th, 1990 as a preliminary consensus building step.

Each biennial conference offered programs on the changing role of the profession, technological updates and practical advice from the front lines. The Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN was the site of the 1990 SELA conference.  The 1992 conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana followed by Charlotte, North Carolina in 1994 and Lexington, Kentucky in 1996.  Arkansas Library Association hosted a joint conference in Little Rock in1997.  The Georgia Council of Media Organizations (GaCOMO) invited attendees to Jekyll Island in 2000.

The Winning Ticket:  Southern Libraries was the theme for the 1996 joint conference held in Lexington, Kentucky.  Over 1,000 individuals attended including 967 paid registrants and 80 vendors.  A highlight was a presentation by National Public Radio (NPR) commentator and Louisville native, Bob Edwards.  Reflecting on the keynote speech, conference chair Judith Gibbons noted:  “His ruminations ranged from commenting on library architecture and design to lamenting the loss of librarians to administrative and fundraising duties.”

At the 1996 conference board meeting, long-time SELA employee, Claudia Medori announced her forthcoming resignation.  Her associate, Jo Ann Treadwell assisted the Association through the management transition.  A subsequent contract was signed with SOLINET with services provided through 1998.

In the Summer/Fall/Winter 1996 issue of The Southeastern Librarian, numerous tributes were offered upon Claudia Medori’s retirement. Charles Beard, SELA President, 1986-1988 said, “Claudia was a joy to work with because of her seemingly effortless organizational ability and her ‘people skills’”. 

Jim Ward, SELA President, 1990-1992, reflected, “One could always rely on her to be dependable, efficient, prompt, thorough, accurate, conscientious, encouraging, understanding, cooperative and many other adjectives – always in a very pleasant way.”

Throughout the 1990’s, members worked on a variety of projects for the betterment of the association and the profession.  A new membership directory was created.  The traveling SELA exhibit was refreshed.  The team of Gordon Baker and Bob Fox took over association management in 1999.

In summing up the decade, Gail Lazenby SELA President 1992 – 1994 reflected, “It is a well-known fact among those of us who have worked with, loved and struggled with SELA through many lean years that the reason that it has survived has a great deal with the members wanting it to survive.”