Welcome to Our 50th Anniversary Year

A belated happy new year to all our SLA Europe members. I hope that 2022 has gotten off to a good start for you and that you’ve managed to find some time to rest and recharge for what is sure to be a busy year ahead. I want to start by thanking all the members who have engaged with us in various ways, big and small, over the past year.

As we are all aware, there has been a LOT going on and the willingness of our members to keep getting involved never ceases to amaze. I’ve been particularly pleased to see our growing international reach, with new members from across both Europe and the world. One of the main benefits of an organisation like SLA is the chance to meet others in different areas of the profession and this global membership really helps with that goal.

As many of you will know, 2022 is our 50th anniversary year. Since our founding in 1972, the Community has continued to thrive. This represents a huge achievement for all of us and in recognition of this special anniversary we are pleased to launch an initiative to ‘Celebrate a little, celebrate a lot’. Whilst major milestones and big life events are always something to celebrate, the past couple of years has taught me that celebrating the smaller things also has benefits. I’ve witnessed so many achievements over the course of my career that have gone almost unnoticed – the colleague who has quietly achieved a qualification on top of their day job, the individual who gives their first conference presentation despite horrendous nerves, the first time author who submits their work for critique or the worker who has completed that project they’ve been working on for months. We don’t shout about these achievements enough because even though they are huge to us, they may seem small to many in the grander scheme of things. As part of our celebrations this year, SLA Europe would like to help our members shine a spotlight on their achievements – large and small – and bring them to wider attention. We are happy to share news via our online channels and hope to make this a regular feature on our platforms so please don’t be shy – use this chance to celebrate with us. We will also be sharing memories of the past 50 years from former members and Presidents on our social media channels, so do keep an eye out and please share your own memories if you can.

Of course there will also be larger events to celebrate in 2022 (the word ‘party’ has been mentioned more than once in recent Board meetings). Perhaps the biggest event will be the return of an in-person SLA Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Scheduled to take place in the summer, this will offer a chance to meet up with our colleagues from around the world in person, listen to ideas and have those chance conversations which always seem to lead to exciting opportunities. The conference is aiming to operate as a hybrid event which means that those unable to travel will still have the chance to participate. We are also continuing our popular ECCA awards to give new professionals a chance to travel to the conference (either in-person or online). We’ll be issuing calls for applicants very soon so please keep an eye on our social media channels.

We plan on continuing to run our own online events that have proven so popular in the last few years. We know that not everyone is able to commit to traveling and are delighted that our series of online discussions has made events accessible to more people. We hope to improve this offer throughout 2022 so that even more people feel able to attend.

Those who know me will know that I’m a big advocate for professional development and learning new skills. However, this should be an opportunity open to all and shouldn’t come at the expense of a work/life balance. In 2022 we will be offering fully paid memberships of two years for up to ten students currently working towards an information qualification. We hope that this will be an opportunity for those new to the profession to experience SLA and what we have to offer and to use their time to make connections that will last throughout their career.

We will also be offering several micro-volunteering opportunities which are open to anyone. Although I’m thankful to the Board and our many committee members for their dedication, I know that not everyone is able to commit to full service terms. Micro-volunteering opportunities are short, time-specific chances to develop your skills by working with us. This may be on a short-term project such as organising a specific event or for a defined period of time in a specific role. The aim is to allow those who want to learn new skills in this way to do so within boundaries which work for them. Please watch out for these opportunities and reach out if there is something you are particularly keen to work on.

I want to conclude this post by sharing a personal story. It is an enormous personal challenge for me to take on this type of role, which comes with both profile and responsibilities. I come from a background of working in behind the scenes roles for many years and although I’ve reconciled myself to a more public facing role in my day job, taking on the position of SLA Europe President represents a major step out of my comfort zone in many ways. This is my 20th anniversary of working in the information profession and this has offered me a chance to reflect on where I see myself going from here. I want to challenge myself in ways that I haven’t before and I have realised that there will never be a ‘good’ time to do so so it’s best to take opportunities when they present themselves. The fact that many of the previous Presidential blog posts mention similar themes should hopefully convince you that any one of us can aspire to challenge ourselves in similar ways and that there is a whole community wanting to help you. A few years ago, when I was still a student, I applied for the ECCA award more times than I can remember and although I got close I never achieved that particular goal. Fast-forward a few years and I’m now the President of SLA Europe and will be (hopefully) attending my first SLA Conference in the summer. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and see where you land – the result might just surprise you as much as it has me!