Career Success: The SLA Experience

How do SLA membership and engagement contribute to the career success of special librarians and information professionals? Here’s what some of them have to say about how SLA has helped them in their careers.

“. . . Before I got involved with SLA, I really didn’t see myself as a leader. Getting involved proved to me that I am definitely capable of leading, which is something I will take with me into every future job I will have. . . [E]veryone is so open and so welcoming. We really are a community that helps each other and supports each other. In a new position and a new city, that’s really very important to me—not to mention being able to move ahead in my career through the support that SLA offers.” — Stefanie Maclin-Hurd

“SLA engagement is fantastic for building basic skills. At my previous position at Los Alamos National Laboratory, I launched a data working group that included stakeholders from across the lab. After our kick-off meeting, someone asked me where I had learned to run such effective meetings. Why, SLA, of course! . . . Leadership development is an area where SLA really shines. I took on an early volunteer assignment with the SLA New England Chapter (then the Boston Chapter) to organize an event. There was a logistics committee to help me every step of the way, and I learned all of the elements of program planning. Each step on my volunteer path has led to greater responsibilities and deeper leadership skills.” — Dee Magnoni

“I landed my first legal librarian internship through a fellow student member of the Drexel University SLA student group. My first legal librarianship position was through a connection I made in the Philadelphia SLA Chapter. When I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I met a recruiter at a local SLA event who helped me get my foot in the door at my current job. Other folks I met through the chapter wrote me letters of recommendation. If I had not been active or engaged with my local SLA chapters, I would have not had a successful transition from student to professional.” — Chrystelle Browman

“. . . [W]ithin SLA, I’ve bopped around and gotten a perspective from different units. And each time, people were more than willing to share their knowledge. If I needed a particular resource, people would get back to me. We’d all try to help each other out. So I really felt a connection within SLA . . . For me, it was a great support system. Being able to go to conferences and sit in on the sessions, I could bring back knowledge and ideas to help me work around problems that other libraries were dealing with.” — Tina Franks

“I’m a big fan, as a library director, of having my librarians be involved in professional associations because I know they are going to learn skills, and it’s an investment in them and their careers. It’s also an investment in my organization, because I think I’m going to have better librarians from that. I’ve really enjoyed being active at the chapter and division level, because you can go deeper into a role and you can try things—for example, I’ve never been an event planner, so I’m going to try that. It’s a safe environment to do it.” — Catherine Lavallee-Welch

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