This is the second in a series of interviews with each of our Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) winners for 2022. 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, being held in Charlotte, North Carolina this summer.
Our second interview is with Meghanne Flynn, Senior Library Assistant at the University of Cambridge. Meghanne’s award is co-sponsored by the Academic Community.
Why did you pursue a LIS career?
Saying that I am a lifelong learner feels like the polite way of saying that I like being a professional swot. I found a career in Library and Information Services is a way of combining my interests in research and learning with the desire to help others find the joy in their own subject areas. For academic libraries, it feels a little bit like teaching new generations how to be a punk — learning the system so that you can bend the rules without breaking them, and question what assumptions you may already have made in order to disrupt a system for the better. Library and Information Sciences also seems like a career in which we are actually able to address structures of inequality and change them for future generations in how knowledge is organised and accessed. I honestly love my job, and it is a joy to work with people who can say the same.
Can you tell us about your career so far?
I had the opportunity to fill in for a library assistant post at the Education Faculty Library at the University of Cambridge while I was taking a break from my research degree. It pretty soon became clear that academic libraries were a good fit for my combined interests in systems, research, and student support. Luckily for me, Cambridge is a city of libraries, and I have been able to gain experience in research and public queries while in post with the Reference Department at the Cambridge University Library; systematic searching and long-term services planning while in an Assistant Librarian post at the Education Library; and now teaching and hybrid services delivery as a Senior Library Assistant at the English Faculty Library. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
Why did you decide to apply for an ECCA with the academic/legal community?
The ECCA through SLA Europe was recommended to several of the library assistants by the Head of the Arts and Humanities Libraries at Cambridge, who was a previous recipient of the grant and spoke highly of the experience it afforded her. In reading up on it I really appreciated the variety of specialist libraries that are represented at SLA, bringing best practice experience that can hopefully be adapted for the different organisations. It seemed like a brilliant way to continue pursuing knowledge in my own professional development, but to also have exposure to the kinds of information that are going to help me continue to support my managers above me, the library assistants below me, and the broader academic communities that we serve.
What are you most looking forward to about SLA 2022?
Honestly? I think I am most looking forward to meeting people. The last couple years have shown us that online conferences can work, especially for ensuring that information is physical and economically accessible for the broad range of participants. However, we are still learning a lot about developing the design and culture of these spaces while we find ways to make them as or more inclusive for all. While we are in this transition phase, it still feels like you can absorb so much more from being in a physical space and getting to interact individually with attendees in real time. For me this goes hand-in-hand with the mentorship opportunities offered by the ECCA. It can take a lot more time to build relationships through online contact than being able to sit down and have a chat with someone.
Which sessions/speakers on the programme are excited most about?
I would say that I’m initially excited about the talks which align with the interests I have already of bridging research and information literacy teaching, like ‘Algorithmic justice: how algorithms shape our discussion of racial justice’ and ‘Intersections of Open GLAM, OER and Information literacy’. But I am also really excited for panels in new areas for me to learn about like ‘Project Management Essentials for Library Professionals’ and ‘Don’t Be ROI Shy!’ that I can use in developing programs in my library community.