In SLA, ‘Member Benefits’ is Redundant

SLA offers many great member benefits, such as discounts on conference and course registration and access to an online community tool. But in listening to SLA members talk about their “SLA experience,” it’s clear they themselves are the biggest benefit.

For example, SLA has a career center that lists job opportunities and provides career resources. But as Chrystelle Browman’s experience shows, SLA’s member network is its own career center.

“I landed my first legal librarian internship through a fellow student member of the Drexel University SLA student group,” she says. “My first legal librarianship job 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.”

SLA also offers multiple opportunities for professional development, including certificate courses in knowledge management and competitive intelligence and conference sessions on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to open educational resources to big data. But as Stefanie Maclin-Hurd and many other SLA members have learned, hands-on volunteer experience in SLA chapters and divisions can teach lessons that no speaker or online training program can impart.

“Before I got involved with SLA, I really didn’t see myself as a leader,” Stefanie says. “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.”

Additionally, SLA has an online community platform, SLA Connect, where members can ask questions and get answers, share ideas and expertise, and build and strengthen professional relationships. But as Abby Thorne knows from experience, nothing builds community like attending local events with other SLA members.

“Being in Kentucky, where we have a fairly active chapter, we get together several times a year for meetings and programming,” says Abby (flanked by fellow SLA members Terry Buckner and Liz Polly at a wedding shower given by the SLA Kentucky Chapter). “We get together for happy hours; we’ve done baby showers, we’ve done wedding showers; we’ve done a little bit of everything. Those personal connections are really, really helpful. If I have a question in my job right now, I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone or send an e-mail to one of the other chapter members and ask them how they would deal with it.”

Join SLA today and start learning what Chrystelle, Stefanie, Abby, and thousands of other special librarians and information professionals have learned—that our members are our greatest benefit!

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