Why SLA?

Question: When did you first join SLA? What made you decide to join then, and why do you still belong today?

Ann Koopman, Candidate for Division Cabinet Chair-Elect

I joined SLA because I had a good mentor when I started my first job as a librarian.  I started out my working life as a paper conservator/consultant, bookbinder and paper marbler, but soon moved into a traditional academic library job.  My mentor set a wonderful example as an active association volunteer, and demonstrated all the satisfaction and growth that results from a good association experience.   Because several associations were available to me, her advice was to sample all that were relevant to my interests and to offer my services as a volunteer.  I went “association shopping,” and it turned out to be SLA that welcomed me – making room and finding worthwhile jobs for its new member. 

Of course, SLA has great conferences and compelling professional development programs; we offer advocacy, publishing, and CE opportunities for our members.  But over the years what I have valued most about SLA is my friendship network with other members.  That’s what keeps me signing those renewal checks every year.   Whenever you volunteer for a chapter or division committee, a board, or even just an individual program, it’s an opportunity to get to know and bond with other professionals who turn out to be absolutely fascinating people, not to mention great role models! 

Over the years SLA allowed me to explore and develop my interests & skills – there’s so much to learn, and one gets back so much more than one gives!  I particularly enjoy program planning and financial stability, so my record is heavy in treasury, vendor-relations and program-related jobs in my chapters and the Sci-Tech Division.  Yes, that’s my idea of fun.  But the good news about SLA is that we have room for (and value) all kinds of interests and skills – it takes ALL of us to make a whole association.   

SLA has been full of people who took the time to guide and advise me about all kinds of things along the way.   One day the tables turned, and I remember very clearly the first time someone else told me that I was HER role model.  That was definitely a shock at the time, but later it made me think in terms of giving back to a community from which I had received so much.  Somehow, organization work became even more satisfying after that. 

Why do I keep working for SLA?  I guess the bottom line is because SLA welcomed me into the family long ago, and when I think of SLA I think in terms of "we" and "us" instead of "it" and "they."

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