ECCA; Division; Chapter; Outlook; Click U; Open House; Leadership; Dance Party; Board meeting; SLA HQ…just some of the vocabulary that I’ve learned since winning an ECCA (Early Career Conference Award) that sent me to SLA (Special Libraries Association) Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2009. Until that point, I knew very little about the organisation. Then I was one of four award recipients that year and I discovered exactly what SLA was all about. I’ve been to four conferences and one Leadership Summit, meeting a truly amazing bunch of people along the way. I’ve served on chapter and division boards, mentored a new ECCA at his first conference, written for publications, followed Twitter chats and generally had my professional life changed by that one award application.
Last night was SLA Europe’s summer party, held at Barber Surgeon’s Hall. It was a splendid venue, with great company, tasty food and chilled wine – thank you to the sponsors (Dow Jones and Integreon) and those who organised the evening.
I think everyone now knows that in September I will be moving to Westcott House in Cambridge. Hence SLA Europe’s party yesterday was a lovely way to be able to lay a marker in the transition from librarian to ordinand. The discernment process – the time taken for me and the Church to decide if I really am called to ‘this vicar thing’ – has been the reason I haven’t returned to SLA Europe’s Board as I expected I would this year. Which means that I don’t have any real responsibilities to hand over – just enthusiasm for an organisation that has given me so many opportunities in the past few years, and a good number of friends too. I was amused – and touched – by the number of people who corrected me last night. “No,” they said, “you’re not training to be a vicar – you’ll be training to be a bishop!” I heard a lot of positive comments about the Synod vote this week – colleagues had noticed what had been going on.
Just to really make it a collision of emotions, an email with lots of new joiner information arrived from Westcott as I was on my way to the event. The City world is already starting to feel a bit alien – I thought for quite a long time about what to wear yesterday now the smart uniform is no longer default (and I went with comfortable-in-hot-weather rather than super-smart in the end). The library gang I leave behind will carry on with the same issues – the need for professional recognition; threats of job cuts and outsourcing; changing technology; budgets, training, development. They’ll need support, a peer community and development opportunities: the kind of thing that SLA Europe does well.
So, thank you, SLA, for what you have given me and the ways I’ve been privileged to serve my colleagues.