When did you first join SLA? What made you decide to join then, & why do you still belong today? – Leslie Reynolds, Candidate for President-Elect
While a library school student at the University of Illinois in 1994, I decided to get involved with SLA. I like to understand my options, and joined both SLA and ALA. Joining the SLA student chapter, I was able to get involved quickly and served as co-president of our chapter; we planned several field trips to special libraries in Springfield and Chicago. I was trying to decide what kind of librarian I wanted to become, and these experiences helped me to focus on academic research institutions and I became an Engineering Librarian.
I maintained my membership in SLA without volunteering and attended my first Info-expo in Indianapolis in 1998. It wasn’t until I became actively involved in 2002 that I could grok what membership in SLA really meant. I told our local chapter leadership that I wanted to get involved and I was given the opportunity of a lifetime! I realized that being a member of SLA isn’t enough; what makes a professional association important and relevant to me is what I contribute to it. It is important to me to give our members as rich a volunteer experience as possible so that they can know the personal professional value of contributing to the success of our association.
In the last 13 years, SLA has provided me the opportunity to stretch my wings as a project manager, event planner, influencer, publisher, writer, editor, leader, mentor and protégé. It is a safe place to try new things, gain experience and gather advice. I find value in the programming at annual conference, but the connections that I have made and continue to make with other information professionals and the opportunities SLA gives me is critical to my professional success. Becoming involved in the workings of SLA is what kept me coming back year and year, and I believe this is the key to improving our member retention rate.