SLA Membership Story: Volunteering, Networking, and Career Success

This membership story is written by Karen Reczek, MLS, SLA Fellow, and current happy member of SLA since 1989. Join Karen and thousands of information professionals today! 


“My SLA colleagues reached out to me (not the other way around) and offered to assist me, refer me, and I was continually asked what they could do to help me. Now that is what I call a network! 

…I truly believe that I have SLA to thank for this very fulfilling and exciting job….”

I became involved in SLA very early in my career. My first job out of library school was at a pharmaceutical firm, and I attended my first SLA conference in 1989. I have not missed an Annual Conference since (even when I needed to pay my own registration, travel and expenses.) I have met professionals from all industries and all over the world at every conference.They are doing amazing things in their organizations and I have developed some life-long friendships and mentoring relationships. At the start of joining SLA, I soon became involved in the Pharmaceutical and Health Technology Division as their Bulletin editor, and since that time I have held numerous committee and leadership positions (more than I care to count) in the Association.

Through volunteering and attending local chapter meetings and the Annual Conference, I have developed an unrivaled network of colleagues who have enhanced my professional success at each step of my career. There were many occasions in my jobs when I was simply asked for something that I didn’t have experience providing, and I turned to the SLA member directory to find a peer who I thought might be able to help – even if I had never met that person before.  I would simply say, “I am a fellow SLA member, can you point me in the right direction?” Each and every time, I received a response and the help I needed!

Volunteering for the Association afforded me the opportunity to increase my leadership and team-building skills on a regular basis. I learned how to motivate people to achieve common goals, and I learned a considerable amount about how to plan and implement programs and sessions.  This proved to be a real-benefit to my employer when they decided to host a two-day seminar program for our clients. My SLA program planning experience provided me with excellent knowledge of how to make this happen from developing the topics on the agenda, identifying speakers, offering sessions in different formats, to all the behind the scenes details necessary to deliver a excellent seminar. We went on to offer this very popular seminar three years in a row.  Without my SLA involvement, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to support this endeavor!

SLA has been a source of support for me during bad times as well. I had been laid off my last position after 14 years of managing the info center, KM and competitive intelligence functions and I began looking for my next position.

My SLA colleagues reached out to me (not the other way around) and offered to assist me, refer me, and I was continually asked what they could do to help me. Now that is what I call a network!

I was even approached by an SLA colleague in government libraries who had taken a continuing education course I taught for the SLA Engineering Division. She suggested I bid on a current project at her agency. I submitted the required “Request for Quotation (RFQ)” and I was selected!.

The deliverables of this project were well received and landed me a full-time contracting/consulting position with the agency, of which I am now in my third year! I truly believe that I have SLA to thank for this very fulfilling and exciting job.

So, if you are not an SLA member, please consider joining this great organization right now ( SLA provides excellent professional development opportunities, avenues to develop and hone your leadership skills, and most importantly, an amazing network of colleagues around the world who are ready to help in any way possible – just because you are part of their professional home.

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