An interview with Ian O’Leary – Chair of the new professionals and student relations committee | SLA Europe

Tell us how you started off in the information profession?

When I was at university I got a summer job working in a medical library and it took off from there for me. I did my professional qualification at University College Dublin and since then I have worked in a variety of libraries in Dublin, Sydney and London.

Your current role is in a scientific library. Tell us more about what you do?

I am the Information Services Manager at an organization called the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). This is an applied physics and engineering laboratory in southwest London with about 500 research scientists. We have some weird and wonderful scientific laboratories. NPL delivers world-leading measurement solutions that are critical to commercial research and development, and support business success throughout the UK and across the globe. I run a scientific information service and a publishing service. Scientific information is fascinating stuff with a high rate of change as new products and ways of delivering information are developed rapidly in the field.

Can you give us one key lesson that you have learned from your career so far?

I think I would echo some of my colleagues in SLA Europe and say always be ready for change. I started in the information profession in 1999 and things have changed rapidly in that timeframe. So commit to keeping learning and growing – develop your professional network and keep doing training courses to keep your skills up to date. Get involved with professional associations – you learn so much from other people. Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date as that can be the first thing people see about you.

How did you first get involved in SLA and why?

Way back when I first moved to London in 2004 I joined SLA Europe to go to events and meet colleagues in the profession. Over the years I have benefited from the organization so decided to volunteer for the board. It is personally and professionally rewarding to share your own expertise and add value to your professional community.

What are your plans for the coming year?

Well I have been appointed to a new position as Chair of the Students and New Professionals Committee, and I have some great new professionals as colleagues who have also volunteered for the committee. We have been reaching out to library and information schools and looking to find out what value SLA Europe can offer people when they are students or in the earlier stages of their career. We are running a students/new professionals specific event shortly – where we ask people from different stages of the profession to share their experience and advice. There is more information on this free event here We are also looking to do a student-focused webinar and be more proactive with marketing the benefits of SLA Europe membership to students and new professionals.