Washington, DC Chapter

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SLA: Some Personal Reflections

SLA: Some Personal Reflections

By Tom Rink, SLA President-Elect

So, why did I join SLA? This really wasn’t much of a decision . . . I joined SLA because they were a good fit for me at the time, a fit that I wasn’t finding through any other library association, a fit that has helped define me as an information professional, a fit that continues to this day. Fresh out of library school, I was asked to build a library from scratch in an industry that doesn’t normally have or value libraries. As a solo librarian, in a highly specialized and non-traditional setting, SLA provided me with an avenue for professional development as well as access to an amazing peer network that has proven its value to me time and again.

Much of my success in life, both personal and professional, I would attribute to my involvement with SLA. Regardless of the channel you select (chapter, division, caucus, association), SLA provides the opportunities to get involved by taking on leadership roles, by developing new/existing skill sets, and by expanding your network of colleagues. Every time I have said “yes” to SLA by agreeing to serve in some capacity or another, I have stepped outside my comfort zone to embrace an opportunity to grow and to give myself an opportunity to succeed. Volunteering and “giving back” to the association has provided me with a lot of value and satisfaction. For me, as well as for many of you I would imagine, it all started by attending programs and/or volunteering at the chapter level which offers an easy and non-threatening avenue for getting involved. The importance of having the accessibility of programming and peer contact with other professionals on a somewhat more “local” basis cannot be understated either. And while I am not currently a member of the DC Chapter, I have been a member from time to time, and I marvel continuously at the amount, the variety, and the quality of the programming and truly wish I lived in the area so that I could take advantage of this wonderful benefit. Beyond the chapter level, SLA offers the additional benefit of subject (or function-specific) divisions and caucuses which allow you the opportunity to connect or collaborate with colleagues at the subject-expertise level — a benefit that also cannot be understated and a benefit that I have valued for advice and guidance on numerous occasions in my career.

SLA is about continuous learning. Whether you are participating in a webinar (live or recorded), attending conference or local programs, reading Information Outlook, or networking/collaborating with colleagues (in-person or virtually), continuing education remains a hallmark of SLA. One of my most enjoyable learning activities was taking part in SLA’s 23 Things initiative – here it was, the 21st Century and I was woefully behind on my Web 2.0 technology and skills. I progressed through this self-paced and fun online course, developed my blog (http://guncarryinglibrarian.wordpress.com), got involved with Twitter (@coplibrarian), and learned so much about so many other tools and technologies. And, while I would never consider myself an “early adopter,” SLA provided the nudge (and the curriculum) I needed to get more up-to-speed technologically.

What I like most about SLA is the relationships/friendships that I have formed with an amazingly diverse set of information professionals from around the world. SLA is family, and regardless of where we gather (local events, annual conference, virtually), it is always welcoming, educational, and fun. We all have our own unique story and it is great to meet new people and to hear their individual stories.

Happy 75th Anniversary, DC!

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