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Posts Tagged ‘SLA Rising Star’

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend my third SLA conference, which this year was held in Phoenix, Arizona.

SLA 1The European Chapter of SLA generously funded me to attend the conference as its President, but I am additionally grateful to the SLA Europe Board as they nominated me for the SLA Rising Star award, which I received at the conference.

This award is given to new professionals who demonstrate potential for leadership and innovation within the profession, and I received it on the basis of my volunteer work for SLA Europe and for presenting at and organising the SLA, CLSIG and BIALL Graduate Open Day in previous years.

I realise this is no Oscar and that it may come across cheesy, but I really do mean this and want to publicly thank my mentors (and friends!) Tracy Z. Maleeff and Sam Wiggins. Tracy and Sam have both encouraged me to constantly challenge myself professionally, to volunteer in leadership positions at SLA and to present at conferences, even though I used to have a phobia of public speaking. SLA has been a wonderful part of my life for the past 5 years and I really wouldn’t have got to this point without them.

SLA 5

Receiving the award in front of 1,500 library and information professionals was a little nerve wracking to say the least, but when I did lift my eyes off the floor for one brief second to look at the audience applauding me, it really was a lovely and uplifting feeling! Receiving the award at the opening session was also great in the sense that many people who I spoke to later at the conference instantly knew who I was and congratulated me (in that easy going, not at all awkward, very American way!).

So now I have a very beautiful and shiny award sitting in my living room, but what happens next? My aim now is to try and keep progressing; to keep volunteering with SLA Europe, to keep being active in the profession, and to try and ensure that I have not peaked too early!

SLA 2

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For those of you not so familiar with the SLA as an organisation, every year at the conference a special few are awarded the accolade of ‘Rising Star’, for early career achievement and for having great potential for becoming future leaders with the SLA and for the profession as a whole. Members have to be nominated for this honour, and my friend Sam Wiggins very deservedly won it this year, along with Angela Kent and Tanya Whippie, which is why I attended the Rising Stars and Fellows Roundtable.

This turned out to be my favourite session of the whole conference (along with the Working Across Cultures panel session). This was structured so that each Rising Star was paired with a newly awarded Fellow (outstanding mid-career SLA members), and each pair discussed different aspects of the #SLA2014 conference theme ‘impact beyond borders’.

Internationalisation

Catherine & Sam

Catherine & Sam

First up was Sam Wiggins, and Fellow Catherine Lavallee-Welch on internationalisation, who questioned each other on their topic.

So what does internationalisation mean?

For an information profession, internationalisation is about your outlook and outreach; being aware of the global economy and news, aware of international materials, working with colleagues in your international offices, and working with vendors who develop products globally in order to understand how they will affect us locally.

With regards to the SLA as an international association – Kate Arnold is the first non-North American SLA President, the Arabian Gulf Chapter is the fastest growing chapter and we have to ask ourselves ‘where is the SLA going?’ SLA is unique in its structure of divisions (subject divisions) and chapters (geographical regions) and has great potential to grow globally.

What does a North-American (a typical SLA member) think are the benefits for a non-American for joining SLA?

  • Offers a wealth of international resources
  • Fantastic networking opportunities with peers across the globe
  • Possibly there is not a local organisation that fits their needs as well as SLA

How does the benefits of being a member of SLA translate in to the workplace?

  • It helps to break down international barriers and help you to build up an understanding of cultural nuances
  • Meeting people of different nationalities helps to dispel stereotypes
  • By diversifying the workplace, you can better make connections when working with colleagues in different offices.

Career frontiers

Second was Fellow Daniel Lee and Rising Star Angela Kent on career frontiers. Unfortunately their time was cut short, but they advocated SLA as a great resource:

  • The SLA is great for providing practical advice and numerous networking opportunities – whether you want to get in to the profession or not
  • It can be particularly useful if you are relocating to a different country or region and want to meet local professionals and learn about local resources
  • The SLA also provides a good and safe place to experiment and gain new skills if you choose to become a volunteer

I can certainly second that final point as an SLA volunteer myself! Volunteering for SLA Europe has provided me with opportunities to develop skills and gain experience that my current (and fairly junior) job cannot offer me.

Networking

Tanya Whippie and Leslie Reynolds gave their top tips for effective networking beyond the inner circle:

  • It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you
  • Volunteer for an association, and publish an article if you can to get your name out there
  • Discover people in similar positions at different organisations so that you can cross-pollinate and bounce ideas off them (particularly useful if you are a solo librarian)
  • Network with people in your organisation who aren’t librarians; particularly those in the know about the organisation – don’t underestimate the power of sports and happy hour!
  • Be prepared for describing your work to non-librarians (similar to elevator pitch) – always have 3 things about your library that you are proud of!

Finally, fellows Tony Landolt and Mary Ellen Bates paired up to do something rather different to the other pairs. They created a scenario in the future, and a job description for an information professional (preferably a rising star) in 2019. It was very entertaining, but I’m afraid I don’t have all of the details to recreate it for you.

 

I think what I really got from this session was enthusiasm about the profession, reinforced belief that our profession is a great one and it is made up of some very wonderful people, and in conjunction with the opening session it has really motivated myself to think about my own person career and to aspire to one day become a Rising Star or Fellow, and the best possible professional I can be!

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