Experience continuum

How much experience do you need to be characterised as a new professional; mid-career; and master? Answers on a postcard (how quaint!) or by email, tweet, Snapchat or Instagram.

I ask as I’ve been thinking about this for a while, in both a work & professional capacity. At CILIP conference I was wondering how people classified themselves and others in terms of experience. When does a new professional become mid-career? What stage do you become master and senior professional?

I have also had two opportunities to reflect on experience & how it’s measured during stints judging awards for SLA & CILIP this year. In  particular, SLA Awards involved nominations for all stages: Rising Star (new professionals); Fellows (mid-career) and Hall of Fame (recognition of whole career).

I was struck by a Twitter chat this week, from teachers starting their summer holidays, & discussing how many years experience was needed to qualify them as experienced teachers. There is some synergy between info pros & teachers: both require postgraduate study, on the job experience & training plus importantly subject (for info pros read sector) expertise.


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So how do you rate this answer? And where do you sit on the experience continuum?

It’s 30 years since I got my MSc, & set off for my first post qualification job. I’d say I hit most of the marker points outlined in this tweet. By that reckoning I’m a rock star! I do feel I’ve achieved that this year as CILIP President. I’m proud, honoured & lucky to have served as President of my two professional associations: SLA and CILIP.


#blogjune: post 17: Effective awards that keep on giving ….

Everyone loves an awards ceremony. The recognition, kudos & lift you get as a winner is unbelievable. I loved watching the tweets from the Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference in Phoenix (#sla2017) over the weekend. SLA conferences open with an awards ceremony & there’s a lot of razzle dazzle as befits an American conference.

As chair of this year’s SLA awards committee I am thrilled that we had so many  nominees to choose from. I’m also pleased to have been able to make some – much needed – I believe, alterations to the awards process. Firstly, we re-jigged the timing, so nominations closed in mid-January, allowing people longer to collate nominations. Secondly, all the winners were told who had nominated them. This was a really important change I wanted to implement. Prior to this year, winners weren’t routinely told who had nominated them. That means those who nominated often went unnoticed. As both a former award winner, & someone who had coordinated several nominations, I know how nice it is to be able to thank people, & to the thanked. I’m hoping both of these changes will become
regular practice.

One of this year’s award winner’s, is Rising Star Marie Cannon (@mariegcannon), who just happens to also be President of my home chapter, SLA Europe. Congratulations Marie; you’re a star.

Marie won an SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) in 2012, which was co-sponsored by the Legal division. These particular ECCA’s are known in the Legal division as Paddington’s, thanks to @Librarysherpa.

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I can still remember the discussion in New Orleans in 2010, with Martha Foot & John DiGilio, Legal division past chair and chair elect, which resulted in the Legal division joining the units co-sponsoring ECCA places.

The SLA Europe ECCA programme was set up in 2007, based on a suggestion by Sylvia James and Barbara Robinson. Its aim is to raise awareness and encourage participation in SLA by those in the early stages of their career. Offering winners the chance to network and learn, while developing a pool of members to run SLA Europe in the future. The prize is an all expenses paid trip to the SLA conference in the US, and the chance for winners to participate in the conference and get the SLA bug. SLA Europe worked with several divisions to co-sponsor the awards. Since 2007 SLA Europe has worked with the following divisions: business and finance; insurance and employee benefits; academic; legal; science technology; pharmaceutical and health technology; leadership and management and competitive intelligence. Eleven years on 34 people have won the awards and the majority have become active with SLA, taking on unit positions and in Bethan Ruddock’s case being elected to the Board of Directors.

Now that sounds like a very successful awards scheme delivering on its aims. Long may it continue.


SLA’s strategic vision – what will you contribute to making it a reality?

How many of SLA’s members are aware of the work done by the Board last year to create a new strategic vision for the association?  Not enough would probably be a good guess. Cindy Romaine wrote a detailed blog post in Nov 2011 outlining the development of the strategy and the next steps in making it a reality. The vision is a bold one which provides a roadmap for activity over the next few years:

SLA is a vibrant, global association of professionals who are employed in every sector of the information and knowledge economy. Our members thrive where data, information, and knowledge intersect and our strategic partners support SLA because they believe in the association’s mission and the future of its members. The goal of SLA is to support information professionals as they contribute, in their varied and evolving roles, to the opportunities and achievements of organizations, communities, and society.

In making the vision a reality the Board is concentrating on five key areas. Each area is being led by Board members and there should be reports on all the activities at conference in Chicago later this month.

  • Annual conference – what should this look like in the future? Should there be more virtual activities?
  • Professional development – how do we integrate and develop professional development offerings using technology; what will the revised competencies offer us?
  • Creating a richer volunteer experience – what can we learn from the loyalty project and from our members’ experiences of volunteering following the recent survey?
  • New markets through collaboration – what new markets can we find through learning and networking initiatives and through non-traditional collaboration efforts?
  • Growth through diversification- how do we appeal to new members in allied fields?

I’d advise all members to review the helpful presentation from Anne Caputo (SLA past President) which was part of Leadership and Management division’s recent webinar on SLA’s strategic vision. Also ensure you attend relevant meetings at conference (such as Leadership Orientation and Cabinet Meetings on Tuesday 17 July from 4pm) to find out more about making the vision a reality and asking questions about how it’s implemented.

SLA is our association and we all need to contribute to making the vision a reality. I took part in last month’s survey on volunteering experience circulated by Liz Blankson-Hemans and Mary Ellen Bates, who are leading the work on ‘Creating a richer volunteer experience’. I was very impressed with the survey questions, they really made me analyse what I’d got out of my volunteer experience from both SLA and other associations. So I’ll be interested to see how my responses chimed with others and how these can be used to create a richer experience in SLA. I’ve also been thinking about what the future of annual conference could look like: would it work if it was every other year? I think it might just work, but only if supplemented by more use of technology to allow people to communicate more regularly. I see that ALA is changing the way it does its conference, is there anything we can learn from them or from others who are changing their conference model? And from the professional development perspective could there be some opportunities for partnering with an organisation, like the Open University, to offer discounted access to some of their CPD programmes?

CPD23 Thing 3: Personal brand

It’s been interesting to contemplate my personal brand. I’ve been in the information profession for over 20 years so have developed a personal brand which I’ve been careful to manage along with my career. It’s resulted in several awards recognising my contribution to the profession including last year becoming a Fellow of SLA and a Dialog Quantum2 InfoStar .

In fact I realise I’ve been following Ned Potter’s  advice to ‘match your brand to the path you want’, be prepared to take and give advice, share and learn from others.  Up until now I’ve done the bulk of this sharing, giving and taking advice and learning offline (at conferences, meetings, in print), with occasional dabbles online. I now realise I need to do more of it online, and this has been magnified by my standing as candidate for SLA’s President-Elect this year. With the majority of membership in North America and being based in the UK I need to get my message across using social media. So I’m beefing up my online presence. I am already on Twitter (@katefromuk) and LinkedIn. I’ve opted to keep my blog and Twitter names the same for consistency. I originally set up my Twitter account at SLA’s annual conference in Seattle in 2008 and so chose KatefromUK to differentiate me.  I’m jumping into the blog posting in an ordered fashion, helped by cpd23 and SLA’s candidates questions and answers. I’m taking advice and support from others in my plans to use my blog to put forward information about me, my values, what I’m standing for and what I plan to do if elected.

So watch this space….