Guest post by Neasa McHale. Neasa is a Senior Library Assistant at Mason Hayes & Curran law firm. Follow Neasa on Twitter @neasamchale
In March 2015, I was delighted to receive the news that I was the recipient of the SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (Legal Division) for 2015. I first heard about the Special Libraries Association when I attended the first SLA Europe Chapter event that was held in Ireland, the “New Professionals Guide to Knowledge Management in Legal Services. The event was hosted by Lauren Lawler (winner of the SLA ECCA (Legal Division) 2013). Shona Thoma wrote a summary about this event for the SLA Europe Chapter website. Hearing about the excellent experience Lauren had at the SLA Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO really motivated me to get involved with SLA and apply for the award. The application process was a really useful exercise. I found that it was a great way to reflect on different skills I had developed since I completed my MLIS, and also to reflect on the different aspects of my current position. This year, there are three ECCAs on offer and I highly recommend that anyone within the first five years of their career apply.
To save yourself some frustration, ensure that you are eligible for the award and that you give yourself plenty of time to work on the application. While the process is straightforward, given that there is a recommended word count of 1500 words, it means you really have to ensure that you get everything you want to say down on the page in the most concise way you can. You’ll need time to work on the various parts of the statement and your CV, along with organising a letter of recommendation. It would be brilliant to see more librarians and information professions in Ireland getting involved in SLA and this award is the ideal stepping stone.
Before the conference I was assigned two mentors, Tracy Z. Maleeff (SLA Legal Division) and Laura Woods (SLA Europe Chapter). Both Tracy and Laura provided me with so much information about the conference which was so helpful when I arrived in Boston. If you do get the opportunity to travel to the SLA Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO 2016 in Philadelphia as an ECCA winner, you will be well-informed before you arrive!
My employers Mason Hayes & Curran are very supportive and encourage my involvement with SLA, especially my library colleagues Anne Whelan and Áine Finegan. As of January 2016, I am one of the directors of the SLA Legal Division executive board. My role includes updating the SLA Legal Division website. Becoming involved with SLA will really benefit your career and it is a great way to network with librarians and information professionals from all around the world.
The closing date to apply for the award is Friday 19th February 2016, 23:59 GMT. See the SLA Europe Chapter website for more information and application instructions.