To celebrate National Libraries Day #NLD2014, ASLIB requested nominations for an information professional to receive flowers, and our very own Anneli Sarkanen won the award for her outstanding work at Field Fisher Waterhouse and her voluntary work for SLA and BIALL.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you first become involved in the information profession?
In brief… My life in the information profession began with a graduate traineeship at the City law firm Macfarlanes around 10 years ago. After that, I undertook my Masters in Librarianship at the University of Sheffield and my first professional post was at Eversheds’ London office. I moved to Field Fisher Waterhouse six years ago. I’ve always been an information officer and been involved in legal research, current awareness, training, and company research; the main aspects of my job have not changed all that much in each role but there have been subtle differences. In my latest role I am embedded within the litigation department and I also support the Employment and Pensions team. At first, the move to being embedded was a little nerve racking; losing the familiarity of sitting in the library with the library team. But I thoroughly enjoy it and have found it very rewarding.
Can you tell us a bit about the voluntary work you do for which you received the award, and why you do it?
In no particular order, I volunteer with SLA Europe on the Digital Communications Committee, for SLA Legal Division as International Relations Committee chair, and for the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) as vice-chair of the PR & Promotions committee.
I first got into volunteering as I heard about BIALL’s development of a wiki which would be a collection of know-how for law librarians. I was really attracted to being involved in this and subsequently joined the committee responsible (PR & Promotions) so I could help out. That led to eventually becoming Vice-Chair of the committee and this year I’ll be taking over as Chair. I’ve been involved in the committee for around six years now, and there’ll be another three years to do as Chair. This feels like quite a long stretch of time but I’ve enjoyed it all and look forward to the challenges of the next three years.
More recently I got involved in SLA Europe, which came about after receiving the SLA Europe Conference Award in 2012 that allowed me to attend the SLA Conference in Chicago that year. Afterwards, in part as a way of thanking SLA for the award and in part to expand my network, I volunteered for the Digicoms committee, looking after SLA Europe’s LinkedIn presence.
Then last year, I was asked if I would chair the International Relations Committee of SLA Legal Division, which involves coordinating and/or writing posts for the Legal Division, updating them on events outside of North America. The committee is small but we’ve got some great people in China, Australia and more recently in Ireland, who are keen to update colleagues on events.
And so why do I do this? We all lead busy lives both from work and our social activities; finding time to volunteer for professional associations can be hard. The reason why I do this mostly boils down to the network you build up as a result of getting involved. I’ve had a chance to meet and work with people outside of law librarianship through SLA Europe, I’ve met another Anneli!! (Anneli Carter, chair of the Events committee), I’ve built on skills I might not have gotten through work, and I think I might not have gotten where I am had I not been active within the profession.
So I’d also like to say a huge thanks to Aslib for the flowers and to Tracy Z. Maleeff for nominating me. It is really nice to be recognised for the volunteering that I and many others do for their profession.
What are your plans and predictions for 2014?
Not sure about predictions but my plans involve co-authoring a chapter on training in a book for corporate information professionals. I’ve never written anything like this but I’ve signed up for a webinar from SLA LMD about writing for publication, hoping to get some tips! With taking over the chair of the BIALL PR Committee I’ll be getting to grips with that and also thinking of how we can promote the BIALL wiki more as it reaches its 5th birthday in June this year.
And outside of work, let’s see! I want to save for a trip to the States next year so this year will be low key, but I’m looking forward to celebrating the weddings of friends and family throughout the year and probably allowing my flat to drain some more of my savings with decorating and any other little DIY projects that may arise!