Hello and a happy new year to all of our members – those current, lapsed or future!
I stepped into 2021 with real trepidation about filling the shoes so expertly occupied by Seema in 2020 as President of SLA Europe, while also incredibly excited to have my chance to serve you all in 2021 – the start of SLA Europe’s 50th anniversary celebrations!
To say that the last 12 months has been an unprecedented time seems both redundant and cliché at this point, but I do think it’s important to highlight just how much we have dealt with as a profession, and how vital our skills and services have been as information professionals through the pandemic. It has been an incredibly tough year for us all, personally and professionally, but I’m proud to have been part of a profession and organisation which has risen to challenges, and supported each other in the most difficult of circumstances.
Like Seema, I want to take a second to honour the work that the SLA Europe board put in to expand our offerings and truly support the profession as a whole during this difficult time. We have had some excellent online offerings this year with high attendance and engagement and created our online coronavirus resources hub, available for all. While we absolutely can’t wait to get our in person events back it has helped us hone our approaches and develop our offering so we can genuinely reach and benefit our members across Europe and the globe. The work that Seema, the board, and our committees have done to support the profession over the last year has been truly inspiring, and I have every faith that this year we’ll be able to achieve and offer just as much excellent content, opportunities, support and chances for you to grow your network.
What will this year bring for SLA Europe?
Our Board has been working hard on ensuring that we’ve got another great year ahead for events and ways for you to get the most from your membership. This month we have our ever popular annual winter warmer quiz, taking place at 6pm (GMT) on the 28th January. I really hope to see many of you there, and if you don’t have a team, fear not as we’ll put you with a bunch of friendly professionals – maybe we’ll be in the same team! In February we have our AGM which we would love to see you attend and share your thoughts and ideas on how we did in 2020 and where we’re going in 2021. Other exciting events to look forward to are “Innovation in the private equity and asset management research industry” taking place on February 24th with the excellent Cornelia Andersson, the Former Senior VP, Global Head of Research and Market Data at Blackstone, and an event in March focusing on Scholarly Communications (more details to be announced soon!). You can keep up to date with out upcoming events on our website and on our twitter, facebook, linkedin, and instagram pages.
We’re still working hard to develop our online offering for this year and to continue building on our COVID hub, more details of which will be announced soon. We hope to be able to have an in person event this year and celebrate should the world be a more normal place, but the last year has sped up our plans to ensure we are offering events and benefits to our members across Europe and the world, rather than just out London based members. So looking past the pandemic you can be assured that we are building exciting new ways to engage with you wherever you are, including blended events, more online events, and more local in person events. If you have any ideas or are interested in getting involved in the development of globalising SLA Europe please do get in touch.
One very exciting thing we have planned for this year is our second SLA Europe conference, scheduled for early July. Taking place entirely online for this year there has never been a better opportunity to try out the conference wherever you are based. If you’re interested in being involved in helping deliver the conference or offer suggestions for the programme please contact our Conference Chair.
Something I am extremely passionate about is giving opportunities for professional and personal development, particularly for new professionals and those who have been in the profession for some time and are now looking to move up or on to new roles. As a new professional myself (just!) I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to expand my professional network and knowledge through various awards and opportunities offered by SLA HQ and SLA Europe over the years, and expanding these opportunities is one of my key goals for 2021. Indeed, we have recently launched our Sponsored Presidents Blog Award. Unlike our other excellent awards, this award is open to anyone who considers themselves to be early career, whether that’s due to the role you’re in, if you haven’t qualified but are hoping to, if you have qualified but you’re still developing in your early career – this award is open for you. For this award we are asking for blog posts on any subject relevant to the field of library and information professionals which will be published on our website and all writers will be considered to win a place to the SLA Europe conference and mentorship for a year with the current president.
We also have our annual Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) where we partner with other key communities in SLA such as SLA Legal (fun fact – one of our excellent past ECCA winners is now the current SLA Legal Past president) to enable early career professionals to attend the SLA HQ conference. As ever this will be running this year, to attend the SLA HQ conference virtually. Alongside these awards we’re looking to expand opportunities to our members across the different stages of their career and partner further with the fantastic communities across SLA HQ, so please do keep an eye out for what you could be applying for.
On a personal level I feel a real sense of responsibility in leading SLA Europe not only in its fiftieth year, but in a time of such change and importance for the profession. I believe firmly it is our responsibility to develop our approach and focus to supporting and advocating for the profession, to lead the way in giving skills and the tools to support social justice and inclusion, and to continue developing into an organisation that reflects the needs of our members, the profession and the world. It is with these things in mind that I head into 2021, and I intend to do my upmost to continue and further the work set out by Seema and our predecessors.
While myself as president and the SLA Europe board are fully committed to these goals, I think it’s important to note that these are not achievable on our own. We don’t have all the answers, and we need you to tell us what you need, let us know when we’re not hitting the mark, and give us your ideas. SLA Europe (and SLA as a whole) is an excellent multifaceted organisation with varied knowledge and experiences, and by sharing these I think we have a unique opportunity to improve and develop and to continue to improve and develop. So please, if you have any thoughts at all do get in touch.
I’m really excited about what the year will bring, and genuinely cannot wait to give back to an organisation which has given me so much.