Early Career Conference Awards 2016: Interview with Helen Monagle

This is the first in a series of interviews with each of our Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) winners for 2016. In these blog posts our winners will tell us more about why they applied for the award, and what they are looking forward to at the conference. The ECCA winners are sponsored by SLA Europe and SLA Divisions, and will be attending the 2016 SLA Conference & INFO-EXPO in Philadelphia this June.



PictureOur first interview is with Helen Monagle who is co-sponsored by the Academic Division. Helen is a Serials Librarian at Manchester Metropolitan University. She successfully completed CILIP Chartership in July 2015 and graduated with a master’s degree in Library and Information Management from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Can you tell us why you chose to pursue a LIS career?

Initially directed by my passion for reading I began to consider a career in LIS when I came to realise I could use my existing skill set (my interest for learning, customer service skills, support experience and investigative/research skills (from my undergraduate History degree)) to enable users to utilise the learning tools and information available to them.

This led me to undertake employment (both voluntary and paid) in order to gain experience in the LIS before undertaking an MA in Library and Information Management. Both experiences solidified my desire to enter the profession, therefore I enrolled on the Masters with the aim of gaining employment in an academic library within a Collections Management team.

Can you tell us about your career so far?

I began my library career as a volunteer at the Working Class Movement Library. Whilst there I was responsible for creating a collection (including archiving materials). This experience helped me to gain a post in the Acquisitions team at University of Salford as a Reading List Clerical Assistant. This involved a number of tasks, primarily working to implement the new online reading list system.

Whilst studying for the Masters, three others and myself set up the New Library Professionals Network. Now in our 4th year, we have developed and maintained multiple social media platforms and planned and promoted free pragmatic training events to meet the knowledge gaps of our members. Whilst on the Masters I had a part time job as a Student Shelver and undertook a placement at a local public library.

After completing the Masters, I gained employment as a Library Assistant in a public library for Lancashire County Council. I loved working in this sector, however, this was only a part time post, and therefore I applied for and gained the post of Principal Library Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University. This paraprofessional post provided me with lots of experience, which led to my promotion into the role of Assistant Librarian and now my current role Senior Assistant Librarian within the Serials team.

Why did you decide to apply for an ECCA with the Academic division?

I applied for this bursary as I met the criteria, being an information professional working in the field in Europe within my first 5 years of post-qualification work in the LIS sector. Furthermore, having spoken to previous ECCA winners I wanted the opportunity to further my networking experience and felt that attendance at the conference would provide me with a great opportunity to widen and deepen my thinking by sharing best practice with other LIS professionals.

Working within an academic library, which involves supporting staff and students in their use of library resources, I am committed to continuing my professional development in order to provide the best service for our users. I was keen to become an active member of the Academic Division as I felt that this division would enable me to build upon this, underpinning my existing knowledge to develop professionally by sharing best practice and learning from others. I am now looking forward to working with SLA Europe and the Academic Division in the near future.

What are you most looking forward to about SLA 2016?

I am looking forward to the networking (both formal and informal) and information sharing opportunities with likeminded information professionals at the conference (breakfasts, luncheons, and dinners). I am looking forward to the conference sessions, from which I hope to learn many new things/practices that I can take back to my workplace, the NLPN and to SLA Europe.

As I have never been the America before, I am looking forward to the cultural experience; in addition to exploring Philadelphia I plan to visit New York after the conference.

Which sessions or speakers on the programme are you excited most about?

I recently planned my agenda for the conference and found it difficult to pick, as there is so much choice! Having narrowed it down, I am particularly looking forward to the Academic/HE Roundtables where I will be able to share ideas and best practice with attendees, the “Emerging Trends in Libraries for 2016” session by Stephen Abram and the “Cultivate Your Network Like a Garden: Post-Conference Networking Tips and Strategies” session by Tracy Z. Maleeff.


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