Washington, DC Chapter

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What’s Your Theme? – Pause

What’s Your Theme? – Pause

By Elizabeth Lieutenant

As a student and new professional, I sometimes feel like my life never stops. Having to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities while tending to my work, education, service, writing, research, and professional (and personal) development can be overwhelming at times. Although it has certainly been helpful to prioritize my responsibilities, be selective in my pursuits, and always be mindful of goals, I’ve found the best way to achieve balance is by taking the time pause and engage in reflection.

I had the honor of attending the SLA 2014 Annual Conference thanks to the generous sponsorship of DC/SLA’s Annual Conference Stipend Award. My days in Vancouver were filled with conference sessions, networking events, business meetings, and long meals with new and familiar faces. I found it incredibly beneficial to be introduced to SLA’s overall organization and operations, learn about innovations in our field, and connect with other professionals representing the diverse spectrum of opportunities within our profession. It was an experience I will not soon forget.

I spent the day after the conference exploring Vancouver and discovered a long, winding set of stairs that led to the beach. I descended the stairs, planted myself on a large piece of driftwood, and stayed there for more than an hour. I considered the type of sessions that I attended, which ones most resonated with me, and how that knowledge will allow me to tailor my activities to advance my professional pursuits. I focused on one session in particular, Christina Neigel’sLeadership in a Time of Disruption: Reconnecting Intellect and Practice,’ considered how power, privilege, and position influence leadership development and collective action, and how I could adapt my approach to be more effective in fulfilling my multiple roles and responsibilities.

Normally, I would have been tempted to spend the day running around Vancouver trying to see as much of the city as I could, but this day was different. It was taking the time to pause, reflect on my experiences, and explore how I can apply what I learned to further my development that made my attendance so much richer. I traveled back to DC the next day informed, energized, and grateful, not only for the opportunity to attend SLA 2014, but for the opportunity to put my life on pause.


Elizabeth Lieutenant is an MS.LIS Candidate and Graduate Assistant at the Catholic University of America’s Department of Library and Information Science.

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