It’s all about the members
As I walked into the opening reception of SLA 2014 with my Academic Division mentor, people were holding hands and chanting. I thought perhaps we’d walked into the wrong place, or that SLA definitely wasn’t going to be for me. When I realised that this wasn’t a religious ceremony, but a First Nations elder welcoming us to his land, I was both relieved and excited – a conference that pays respect to the local indigenous people is a conference I want to be a part of.
From this beginning, SLA totally sucked me in over the next 3 days – I am now a full-blown cheerleader for the association, having been welcomed by so many of its members. Even before the conference started the welcoming began – from SLA Europe members, past ECCAs, Academic Division and the amazing Tracy Maleeff. Everybody wanted to help; everybody wanted us to get the most out of the conference.
The very first day, before the conference even officially started, I had breakfast with my mentor from Academic Division, Marlo Young. It was a really nice way to kick off my experience, to know that someone was there for me if it all got a bit too much. Marlo also talked to me about Academic Division and how I could get involved in its activities, which provided a nice frame for me to view their meetings through.
Thinking back, it also highlights how much SLA is about its members. As many people said to me, starting with Marlo, there is always an opportunity to get involved with SLA. Whether you’re a student, new librarian or an experienced professional, there’s something for you to do. And in return, members of SLA are honoured at every opportunity. It was amazing – at every turn there were awards and recognition for every kind of member. From the opening ceremony with its video clips and voiceovers announcing new Fellows, Rising Stars and Hall of Famers to individual division award ceremonies and receptions, it really felt as if members are at the heart of SLA.
SLA is really about networking and I met a lot of great people (including the aforementioned amazing Tracy). Everyone I met was so enthusiastic, so generous, and so keen to improve the conference and the association that it was hard not to get swept up in it. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from others what kind of librarian, and what kind of SLA member I want to be.
In amongst all this enthusing about SLA, I did also attend some sessions, a couple of which I’ll be reflecting on in my second post.