Why we value the Early Career Conference Award

Bethan Ruddock, co-chair of SLA Europe’s Awards committee and recent winner of a Rising Star award (more later) writes on the conference award.

With the deadline for the 2010 SLA Europe Early Career Conference Awards (ECCAs) drawing closer (31st Jan – still time to get your applications in!), here’s a bit of background to the awards, and why they are so important to SLA Europe.

You can read about the history of the ECCAs, from their establishment in 2007, on the SLA Europe Early Careers page .So far, the awards have given 9 new students and new professionals the chance to attend an SLA conference in the US, an experience which recipients have called ‘enormous fun’, ‘incredible’ and ‘an unforgettable experience’.  However, an all expenses-paid trip to a US city (this year, New Orleans!) to attend a major library and information conference is only the start of the value of the award.

The award also brings with it a year’s membership in SLA, with all the attendant benefits of membership of a prestigious international professional organisation, including such tangible benefits as access to resources like Click-U .You will be automatically made a member of the SLA Europe chapter, and of the division which co-sponsors your award (this year, that’s Business and Finance http://units.sla.org/division/dbf/ and Leadership and Management giving you access to a whole host of new colleagues, connections, and knowledge.

ECCA winners are also invited to sit on the SLA Europe board, which is an incredible chance to become involved as an activist in a professional organisation, and to gain valuable experience or serving on boards and committees.  It’s also a lot of fun!  I’ve never attended a board meeting yet where business wasn’t stopped at least once gales of laughter around the table.

So what’s stopping you from applying?  Eligibility is fairly straightforward – you need to be in Europe, having joined the profession in the last 5 years (through work or study), never attended an SLA conference before, able to write and speak English, and eligible to travel to the USA. And, of course, be interested in a career in special libraries!  Unsure what that last means? Check out SLA’s list of divisions to see the areas SLA members work in, and their FAQ about ‘what is a special librarian?’ Previous winners have all expressed their surprise and delight at winning – no-one thinks it’s going to be them! So why not take the chance and apply?  Even if you’re not successful this year, applying is, in itself, an excellent professional development activity that shows commitment to continuing professional development.

You can find more information about the ECCAs on the Early Careers page and the SLA E awards ning, a social community for anyone with an interest in SLA Europe awards.  You don’t have to be a winner – or even an applicant! – to join.  You can also read about SLA’s commitment to encouraging new professionals on their First Five Years page.

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