Just Try It, You’ll Like It—Maybe Even Love It!

“I wish I had known about this sooner. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out this entire time.” How often have we heard ourselves utter these words?

For some young professionals, conferences and professional associations are an acquired taste. Just as some people are tentative about trying bleu cheese, beer, or sushi, these individuals are less inclined to actively seek out networking and professional development activities until they see their peers do so. Even then, active involvement doesn’t necessarily follow.

Fortunately for Amy O’Donohoe, she saw that the best way to see what SLA and its annual conferences had to offer was to dive right in, so she applied for the SLA Academic Division’s and SLA Europe Chapter’s Early Career Conference Award.

Amy, customer care (collections) coordinator at Royal Holloway, University of London, quickly learned after attending the SLA 2017 Annual Conference that seeing SLA’s annual conferences through others’ eyes didn’t begin to do them justice.

“Before I won the ECCA I knew that SLA was a big deal. I have friends who are previous ECCAs, I’ve read the blog posts, I’d watched the webinars, but my first real glimpse into what a big deal SLA actually is was in the masses of purple SLA signs posted all around downtown Phoenix as I headed to the conference centre.” She added, “I think the initial awe I felt in being part of something that big perfectly sums up my conference experience, as the weirdly, wonderfully unexpected details just kept coming.”

She was particularly taken by the way the conference brought together and had relevant content for information professionals and librarians from many different fields. “SLA plays to its diversity, creating a conference where you can both focus on your specific area of interest and expand your knowledge through interdisciplinary discussions and transferable skills.” She added, “Of course, SLA isn’t just about the sessions you attend—It’s also about the people you get to meet.”

Far too often, librarians and info pros don’t take full advantage of professional development and networking opportunities until mid-career. And while joining and becoming active at that stage is valuable in its own right, a person can’t help but wonder what he or she missed out on.

Amy urges those who are on the fence to go for it, “[I] encourage anyone thinking of applying for the ECCA or interested in joining SLA to just do it.”

To learn more about Amy’s first taste of an SLA conference, read her post on SLA Europe’s blog.

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