SLA and Professional Growth

Ann Koopman
Candidate for Division Cabinet Chair-Elect

Question 4:  How has your work with SLA over the years helped you grow in the profession?

I first joined SLA for the mundane reasons of CE courses and tenure requirements, but quickly found the Indiana Chapter was a wonderful group of really smart people who cared deeply about our field.  I definitely wanted to hang with this crowd, and they welcomed me right in.  When my family moved to Philadelphia, the wise president asked me to register and greet Chapter members at our meetings — I got to meet everybody.  If you ever get a chance to do that kind of job in any organization, jump at it!

Over the years, SLA has provided a succession of mentors when I needed good counsel, and opportunities to learn & practice leadership skills outside of normal work channels.   I’ve learned specific skills that I could apply to my work, especially as our technology has evolved over the years. Sometimes, SLA has also provided challenges, but those were usually accompanied by extra-deep bonding with fellow problem-solvers. 

SLA makes room for experimentation and expression.  Programming lets you explore & define topics and bring together fascinating people.  It lets you influence our group decisions about what we all need to learn about for the future.  I’ve just loved my years in conference planning.  Successful planners learn their unit traditions, but also learn that “we’ve always done it this way” isn’t enough.  We learn to do constant re-evaluation, to think constantly about better ways to achieve our goals.  Program planning can be strategic.

With the maturity of years, I also came to understand what it takes to support an organization like us, so I accepted more administrative roles, to “give back” after years of getting to do fun jobs.  Guess what?  Even fundraising can be fun when you’re working with a lively bunch of SLA members and our terrific vendors.  It turns out that "giving back" isn't a one-way flow — every volunteer job carries its own rewards.  

So SLA has helped me to learn practical skills to succeed in my work life, and has provided a strong network of colleagues who are always there when I need support.  I’ve been allowed to play in the organizational sandbox and know that I have been able to build my chapter and my division into stronger units with my work.  SLA has given me the confidence of experience, which will continue to contribute to whatever role I play next.

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