CORONAVIRUS CASE STUDIES: Social Distancing, Alone Together

MCI USA is highlighting how we’re partnering with our clients to respond to COVID-19, from messaging and advocacy to webinars and other content. These are our Coronavirus Case Studies.

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) represents information professionals working in specialized settings such as government, business, and academia. SLA encompasses 82 component communities, including 55 regional chapters, which is where many members are most engaged with the organization. But even as they have been called on to manage and maintain vital sources of information during the coronavirus crisis, members have been unable to take advantage of chapter events and other local activities, which have been severely curtailed due to COVID-19.

SLA realized that more than anything people needed to see one another, and invited the entire international membership to a “virtual hangout” where they could say hello and enjoy some facetime. Fifty-five members showed up for the event, which was hosted on the Zoom platform, allowing them to participate as much or as little as they wanted — via visual and audio, or just audio, or just text-chat. The hangout was supposed to last 15 minutes but went for 30, with SLA’s president welcoming participants and prompting conversation with a few lighthearted questions. Indeed, it was so well-received that SLA is now hosting a hangout every Friday.

“Our members need the interaction and need the engagement,” said MCI USA talent Amy Lestition Burke, MA, CAE, who serves as SLA’s executive director, “and with so much out there that’s uncertain, I thought we needed something upbeat and happy to do that wasn’t focused on learning or had a paywall cost — that was open to everybody to bring the community together in a time like this.”


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