Early Career Conference Awards 2016: Interview with Helen Doyle

This is the second 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.


Our second interview is with Helen Doyle. Helen is co-sponsored by the Legal Division, and joined the Library and Information Services team at Norton Rose Fulbright as an Information Officer in March 2013. Helen also has an interest in cataloguing. She has been Treasurer of CILIP’s Catalogue & Index Group for three years and combined this with her interest in law at the 2015 BIALL conference, where she gave a paper on the latest cataloguing standards and their application to law libraries.

  • Why did you pursue a LIS career?

I actually resisted a LIS career for quite a while! Librarianship runs in my family (my mum was a librarian and my aunt was a law librarian) and I was determined to do something different. After several failed attempts to choose something else, I decided to think about what I had enjoyed most during my university degree and go from there. For me the best thing was being given a question I did not know the answer to and having to navigate through the library resources to find it. I love the concept of a library – imagine how much information there is contained in one book, let alone a shelf of books, let alone a whole library! Of course, all that information is practically useless without ways to navigate through it: systems of organisation, catalogues, grouping like-subjects together….maybe something that involved finding information would be fun to do as a job….

At this point I realised I was heading for a career as a librarian. It was clearly meant to be!

  • Can you tell us about your career so far?

I ended up in law librarianship by accident. Once I had decided to follow in the family footsteps, I applied for every graduate trainee placement I could. The first job offer I got was from the library at Lincoln’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court (in the UK barristers must be members of one of the four Inns). I had never pictured myself working in law and expected it to be quite dull. In actual fact I loved every minute of it, especially the mental gymnastics involved in legal research.

During my library Master’s degree I became fascinated with cataloguing – something in the logic and organisation of it appealed to me. I was fairly certain that I wanted to go into academic libraries, but after an 18-month stint helping students I realised this was not particularly where my strengths lay and that I missed the law library . Once again, fighting destiny was pointless!

I applied for the next law job that I saw advertised and I have now been at Norton Rose Fulbright for just over three years.

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

I’ve been slowly building up the nerve to attend conferences – in 2014 I started with the CILIP Catalogue & Index Group conference and I moved on to BIALL’s 2015 conference as a speaker. Both of these were fantastic for networking, discussing trends and issues, and furthering my enthusiasm for the profession. This year I felt ready to take on a bigger conference challenge! A couple of my previous colleagues had been awarded the ECCA with the Legal Division and when the 2016 bursaries were opened they encouraged me to apply. They spoke so warmly and enthusiastically of the SLA conferences they had attended that I decided to give it a go.

  • What are you most looking forward to about SLA 2016?

Simply the experience of attending an international conference, as well as a conference on this scale, is an incredibly exciting prospect! It has not quite sunk in that I am actually going and I am not really sure what to expect. I am hoping to meet lots of people and hear their views on librarianship, as well as the problems, issues, trends and developments they are experiencing – it will fascinating to see how the information profession in North America compares to that in the UK.

  • Which sessions/speakers on the programme are excited most about?

The sessions on promoting library services, such as “The Reluctant Intrapreneur” and “The Indispensable Librarian” sound really useful – I sometimes find it hard to put our value into words, so these sessions look fantastic! I am also hoping to attend some of the Quick Takes on leadership, as this is not an area I have had my experience in up to now. Most of all I am looking forward to all the networking events available, especially the breakfasts!


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.