Chris Cooper’s ECCA reflections

Like Sam, I have had difficulties writing this entry. This sits at odds with my normal output: I can usually muster up and knock out words on any given occasion but this particular entry presented a problem.

I had an idea that I might pick at the transiency of time which was a theme that came as we flew home. Having looked forward to the conference, the fact that it was over so quickly was a point enforced with the over-riding and underlying anxiety that is transatlantic travel.

I was thinking about Evelyn Waugh’s notion of temporal compression which is offered to us via Julia Flyte in Brideshead. The idea that, with both the future and the past bearing down, it leaves so little time for the present, seemed to best reflect the end of the conference and really the next step in the ECCA process.  With the conference now past, it is perhaps time to reflect on the award. These are my brief notes:

I had won the ECCA (Early Career Conference Award) on a Wednesday morning when the e-mail had popped up at about 10:00. Thereafter, followed a great number of e-mails, with travel to book, introductions to be made and discussions to be had, the time passed at some speed. It was then a Saturday in June and I waited to meet my fellow ECCA winners at the airport.

This would be my first meeting and one of the defining points and themes of the conference. As with meeting my fellow ECCA winners, it was the people I met that made my conference. Everyone gave their time generously, people crossed rooms (and in the conference centre this was no small point) to speak with us and genuinely could not have done more to enrich the conference experience.

The conference is simply huge. Anything that requires a book to explain the myriad sessions and events happening at any given time can only ever be large but the actual in-person experience was somewhat overwhelming by virtue of the space that it took up.

The sessions tended towards the broadly useful rather than the specifically focused: this reflecting the amalgamation of so many sections of various libraries represented at the conference. The usual conundrum of which of the five sessions scheduled at the same time to attend arises. In many ways, this does not matter. Someone else is always at that other crucial session, happily glued to Twitter and feeding back. I have been to a handful of conferences previously but never one which was so in touch with itself.

The conference also offered the experience to explore the city. Evening events ranged from drinks at the Academy of Fine Arts to library tours and events at private members’ clubs. It really is a conference set up to learn from, and to meet, people.

There is, to some extent, a great thing made about networking at conference. I approached these events with a great deal of trepidation but found that, if your accept Kripke’s naming and treat these events merely as conversations, then all will be well. Indeed, many of the most interesting conversations I had were at these networking events.

Final Thoughts

I think that this blog entry was problematic to write since I am not entirely sure I have made sense of the experience as yet. This is reflected in my thinking of Waugh, if only because the sentence itself represented a way to frame these thoughts.

The ECCA was an acceleration to me. My past had been through Library School and was establishing its early career, the present is returning from conference but it is the future that is complex.

The award has almost sped up time. The people I met, the ideas and themes of conference, papers to write and friendships to develop represent the future, a future that has been irrevocably enhanced due to the award. The future is not expressly pushing down upon me but I am very conscious of it.

It was and is such an exciting time that, through the very nature of it ending, it very naturally creates a new beginning.


I should like to thank SLA Europe and the Pharmaceutical and Health Technologies Division for sponsoring my award. My thanks to Wendy Foster, Sue Gleckner and Alex Feng for providing mentorship. I know a great number of people helped with the award but if I might also thank Bethan and Sylvia for their time and for making all the arrangements. Finally, I should like to thank my friends, the fellow ECCA winners, Natalia, Ned and Sam.