My interview with Carolyn Sosnowski of SLA (Special Libraries Association). SLA is “is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves more than 9,000 members in 75 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists.” (taken from here)
Naomi: How did you come to work for SLA?
Carolyn: I was returning to the Washington, D.C., area and saw the posting for an information specialist on the SLA site. I began here mostly conducting research for staff and guiding members to resources to help them do their jobs better (sort of a librarian for librarians). My position has evolved into a role that still includes the information/research aspect to a small degree, but it now mainly focuses on developing and creating educational opportunities for our members through Webinars, certificate programs in copyright and knowledge management, and SLA’s annual conference. Online programming throughout the year helps us provide ongoing professional development opportunities for members and others, and our conference is a unique chance to network and receive more in-depth training through regular sessions and continuing education courses. My job really pulls together my interest in advancing the profession and my own knowledge about information-related topics like social networking and Web content, while helping members stay well-informed. You can see from my experience that information professionals can use their skills to explore a wide variety of career paths.
Naomi: How can librarians volunteer with SLA?
Carolyn: SLA members have many great opportunities to learn and to lead within SLA, skills than can enhance your career. Each of SLA’s chapters and divisions is led by a board that develops and implements the group’s strategic plan. Most chapters and divisions also have committees that focus on areas such as website development, educational programming (locally and at SLA’s annual conference), mentoring, and vendor relations. If you volunteer for positions such as these, you’ll be exposed to skills like negotiating, program planning, and project management. It’s a good way to learn about new things and to deepen your knowledge in your areas of interest, either professional or personal. SLA’s councils and committees can also broaden your experience, complement your career goals, and help you make valuable connections.
Naomi: Can you speak a little about your experiences with libraries? Any favorite libraries or experiences with them?
Carolyn: From the time I was a child, I have felt that the library was home. I spent a lot of time in my school libraries (elementary through high school), including some volunteering, and before enrolling in library school I worked in two public library branches. In college, I loved getting lost in Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. While I was getting my master’s degree, I worked in the computer lab in the campus library, and it was great timing because the Internet was starting to become part of everyday student life. It was a period of transition for library schools and their students because instruction was still print-based but we could all see the potential for the “World Wide Web,” although we couldn’t imagine where it has brought us today. Since graduating, I have worked in a variety of special libraries, including those in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. I guess I have worked in just about every type of library since the beginning of my library adventure! I have enjoyed meeting and working with so many smart and creative library and information professionals, and I have to credit my good public librarian friends for showing me the path to a library career.
Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
Carolyn: These are two that I return to every few years: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
Naomi: Are there any blogs or websites we should be following?
Carolyn: HBR Blog Network – insightful posts on business topics (marketing, social networking, customer service, strategy) by industry leaders and experts. Always interesting, always something to learn. http://blogs.hbr.org/
Social Media Examiner – quick way to learn more about social media tools and tips.
Phil Bradley’s Weblog – reviews and commentary of social tools, search tools, and other information resources. Phil also maintains the “I want to…” blog, which targets tools for specific needs.
Naomi: Any job hunting advice?
Carolyn: Network! Professional connections, especially those you make through active association membership, can broaden your the picture of what’s happening in the information industry, and it doesn’t hurt to put the word out to colleagues that you are looking for new challenges. The information profession serves as your community, and you should use that community as a tool to improve your knowledge, help you discover career directions that might interest you and, more specifically, learn about jobs that would be a good fit for your career goals. Networking also lets you share what you know with others.
Keep your résumé and your skills fresh. Take a course, volunteer, write an article. These are all good ways to demonstrate that you are always learning and adding to your arsenal of knowledge and experience.
I am the director of education and information services at the Special Libraries Association, where I’ve worked since 2003. I develop and produce several webinars each year (on topics like social networking, emergency preparedness, and career competencies) and administer the copyright and knowledge management certificate programs. I also manage the overall content for our annual conference and am a content developer/editor on the team working on the redesign of SLA’s website. I enjoy assisting members with their information management challenges. My undergraduate degree in history is from the University of Virginia, and I graduated with my MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Formerly titled Carolyn Sosnowski of SLA …In Six and published originally on 6/28/12 and 6/5/13