Hello from Wisconsin! We are delighted to contribute a week’s worth of postings from the Midwest! You’ll see that Wisconsin isn’t just about the cheese—our chapter boasts 120 members from diverse environments: corporate, law, academic, and other settings, many of us from unique national companies and associations. Our state’s two library schools have renewed focus on special librarianship and growing interest from our student members is evident. We are an active, enthusiastic chapter and happy to contribute our thoughts on future readiness! It’s great in the Dairy State!
by Marilyn Manross, Wisconsin Chapter, Business & Finance and Competitive Intelligence Divisions
When I decided to participate in the SLA Future Ready 365 blog, choosing a topic was a challenge. My background is diverse, but I am new to the field of library and information science, recently receiving an MLIS and am a job seeker. I wondered what I could offer SLA’s experienced, educated and varied readership. There are many things that are exciting about the field of special libraries including sharing information and revelations about personal and professional development. “Write what you know” said Mark Twain (and others); so, I reflected on the past few years.
The knowledge that not everything can be learned in the classroom is apparent – now, even more so than when I received my undergraduate degree (many years ago!); academic study does not fully prepare us for the real world of work, fulfillment and success. It is even clearer to me that the responsibility is on the individual to expand his/her knowledge base in creative ways. Some take part in fieldwork and internships, some do volunteer work, some blog, and some create entrepreneurial businesses. Social media offers many ways to connect with people of like minds, and networking is even more crucial today. One significant opportunity, however, is often forgotten or set aside for a later date: membership in a professional organization.
Organizations, especially SLA-Special Libraries Association, have diverse memberships with rich backgrounds and wide-ranging responsibilities, interests and personalities. Becoming a member is (and should be) more than paying a dues statement. Taking advantage of all an association has to offer takes work, but reaps huge rewards. Students and professionals alike should be reminded of the huge number of programs and the assistance that associations offer. Here are a few of the benefits of an association membership – especially our own SLA.
- Learn: Industry knowledge is enhanced by understanding competencies, ethics, trends, and salary and other surveys. Understand what your association stands for and offers its members.
- Research: Associations offer wide and deep industry materials, LIS developments, resources, and scholarships and internships information via websites, blogs, newsletters and job postings. Access, read and use them.
- Network: Connect with library professionals, peers, students, faculty, industry experts, friends and potential employers. It is critical for success.
- Participate: Be active in SLA. Join divisions in your field of study and others groups that interest you, local chapter leadership teams, national committees and discussion boards. You truly get back a lot when you give of your time and knowledge.
- Share: Get involved in mentoring programs, LinkedIn Groups and Discussions. Meet with those outside your career field to advocate for special librarians. Spread the good news about who we are and what we can do.
- Grow: Develop new skills, expand your knowledge, gain confidence and have fun at local, state and national chapter meetings, seminars, webinars, conferences and committees. Professional and personal development is a life-long learning process.
Through my membership in professional associations, I have been involved in many worthwhile and enjoyable activities. I attended the SLA national conference in Philadelphia – a wonderful experience! I also gave a presentation to a faculty-student group on my international and independent study experiences; organized a educational seminar co-sponsored by an association and my library school; developed programs for a women’s networking group; attended numerous sessions at a state library conference; joined a mentoring program in SLA’s CID (Competitive Intelligence Division); and am a member of a steering committee in a field that interests me. I also continue to participate in many university alumni and other networking groups, contribute to several LinkedIn Groups, consult for a real estate board of directors, and volunteer at my local library and in a childhood development program. Have I done all that I could to become an active association member? No, not yet… that is an ongoing process and a goal to keep in my sights. The benefits of being involved in an association are endless. Get (more) involved in SLA today. Enjoy your membership!
Marilynn Manross received her MLIS from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies in August 2011. A non-traditional student, her graduate school experience included a study abroad in Paris, an independent study “Corporate Librarianship in France” and three scholarships (one to attend SLA 2011 in Philadelphia). With administrative and financial experience in diverse industries — research, operations, office management and investment portfolio administration — she is currently exploring opportunities in a corporate research department, library or information center. Her next job may be located in her native Milwaukee or as far away as New Mexico, Virginia, Canada or Europe. Marilynn highly values her memberships in SLA, ALA, WLA-Wisconsin Libraries Association, SCIP-Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and Alliance Française de Milwaukee.