SLA 2010 in New Orleans was a wonderful first conference for me. It was mostly all in one place, so it wasn’t too overwhelming (although choosing between one session over another was). I talked to more people than I would’ve imagined. I don’t want to go into every detail of every session, since I am not a conference blogger (yet!), but I’d like to give an overview of what I did, as well as my impressions of the conference. This post will be pretty long, so I will save my impressions and conference tips for a Part 2 post.
When we received our badges, we had the option of adding ribbons to them, with titles on them such as “Speaker” and “Fellow.” The only ribbon I qualified for was “First-Timer,” but I was told that this gave me license to speak to anyone and to ask any questions, and that people would be extra nice and helpful to me. I found that most people were nice and helpful, and I have no idea whether or not that had to do with my Student/First-Timer status, but I greatly appreciated it.
Here are the sessions/events I attended (I should’ve posted my “before” schedule to see how this changed – I may do this for ALA, but it will be massive):
Sunday, 8 am – 12 pm: Leadership Development Institute (LDI)
This was a great introduction to both the conference, and SLA itself, for me. I’ve taken the Special Libraries course so I know what issues resonate with special librarians, but this session really showed me what SLA and special libraries are about, as well as what the future holds for information professionals and SLA. President Anne Caputo discussed the “new normal” for information professionals. President-Elect Cindy Romaine introduced a the candidates for Board of Directors. The Q &A session provided a lot of insight into these candidates and their perspectives. I feel like these people are no longer just names in an email to me – I know who they are and what they stand for. I also met some of them at other sessions, and read their thoughts on Twitter. I definitely plan to vote when the times comes.
SLA 2011 in Philadelphia was previewed, and I am really anxious to go! I LOVED the idea of the “Need to Know Forum,” in which SLA will be reaching out to local business professionals in Philly and demonstrating what we have to offer them. It is definitely an inventive way to show our value to those outside of the profession.
There was also a panel about vendor relations, which was eye-opening to someone like me, since I am a student and have never dealt with vendors. The panel offered lots of tips from both the info pro and vendor perspectives, and I took lots of notes for my future dealings in both SLA (chapter officer, perhaps) and in my librarian job. The two main points I took away were to communicate and be creative. I wish they had a Vendor Relations 101 course in my MLIS program.
The highlight of this session for me, however, was the discussion of the SLA Alignment Project and the 23 Alignment Tools, led by Mary Ellen Bates. The Alignment Project sought to find the disconnect between what info profs value vs. what users value, and the results are fascinating (though I need to get to reading the entire report!). We got into groups to discuss one of the 23 tools and brainstormed resources/solutions for it, and I learned so much just listening to these experienced info pros demonstrate their expertise. All in all, this was a fantastic first session.
Sunday, 12-1:30: EOS Luncheon
A free lunch with an EOS demonstration. These vendor lunches will be a lot more meaningful when I have a library to consider, but I learned quite a bit about EOS nonetheless.
Sunday, 1:30-3:00 pm: SLA First-Timers and Fellows Connect
Here I met several first-timers (although no students at this point), and they didn’t hesitate to offer advice or helpful tips for me! This is a great session to go to if you’re new to the conference and want to meet other newbies. I ended up seeing some of the first-timers at other sessions, and it was very nice to see familiar faces.
3:00-5:00: My first glimpse into the massive INFO-EXPO hall
5:00-7:00: SLA Opening General Session and Awards Presentation
Speakers James Carville and Mary Matalin, a husband/wife known for their differing politics, discussed their residency in New Orleans and views on the oil spill, as well as their views on, and uses of, libraries and information. When James Carville revealed that a recommendation from his small-town bookmobile librarian (To Kill A Mockingbird) changed his life, it was a powerful moment, and left everyone in the room brainstorming ways to communicate the value of libraries and information. Carville also stated this heavily tweeted sentiment: “Opinion is cheap. News is expensive.”
Monday, June 14:
10:00-11:30 am: Getting Down to Business: An Introduction to Business Research
I chose to attend this session because I know next to nothing about business research, and I would like to be a well-rounded reference librarian. I also can’t rule out the possibility that I may end up as a corporate librarian. Some of the terminology was a bit over my head at times, but I was glad I attended. The handouts for this presentation will prove to be very helpful.
11:30 am-1:30 pm: INFO-EXPO “Jazzy” Networking Lunch
Ate some free food, made some good (and extremely interesting) contacts.
2:00-3:30 pm: SAAAC (Student and Academic Affairs Advisory Council) Merit Awards and Career Panel
This session ended up being incredibly tiny (only 4 students attended – there were a handful of info pros), but I felt pretty at home here. I made some excellent contacts with people who really care about getting students involved in SLA, as well as helping them any way they can professionally. I asked about program suggestions for our Student Group of SLA, and while I had already brainstormed similar ideas with the SLA-AL Chapter (which was good, since it meant we were thinking on the right track!), I also gained some interesting new ones. I’m hoping to get in touch with some other student group presidents and see if they have any ideas to share.
4:00-5:00 pm: More INFO-EXPO time
6:00-7:00: International Reception
I only stayed about an hour, but the free drinks, appetizers, and music were all good. However, I felt the music was too loud for me to go up to complete strangers and talk to them, since I would be awkwardly shouting. It felt more like an event for people who already knew each other.
7:00-8:30: Social Science, Museum, Arts, and Humanities, Education, and Academic Divisions Poster Session and Open House
This event was quiet (no music) and lovely, and the food was even better than the international reception. I went to this session because I think poster sessions are a great way to learn about current, innovative ideas, and discuss them with new people. While before I would’ve been too intimidated to submit a poster to a national conference like SLA, after seeing the laidback atmosphere at this session, I may consider it for next year.
Tuesday, June 15
7:30-9:30: Military Libraries Division Networking Breakfast
After I went to this session, I wished I had gone all three mornings in a row. I met some incredible people who wanted nothing more than to help me meet the right people and get my foot in the door of a military library. I’m now hoping to attend the Military Libraries Workshop in December, perhaps as a student volunteer.
10:00-11:30: Creating Powerful Resumes
It was interesting and somewhat helpful, but the truth is, I think I’d rather get resume help from a practicing librarian. I have nothing against career consultants, but they can only give very general advice.
12:00-1:30: RefWorks 2.0 Lunch and Learn
I would recommend any RefWorks luncheon – the food was healthy for a change (New Orleans = delicious fried food), and it was still tasty. I also enjoyed learning about the new RefWorks interface, since I currently work in an academic library that utilizes it. This will be a big help when I assist students with the new interface.
2:00-3:30: 60 Sites in 60 Minutes
I’d heard lots about this session beforehand, and I wasn’t disappointed. The room was absolutely packed. I love learning about free internet resources, and I still need to go to delicious and bookmark them. I’ve heard of and utilized many of them, but there are still others I need to explore. Two of them were search engines that my fellow co-presenters and I featured in our ALLA conference poster!
3:30-5:15 – INFO-EXPO time
Whew! As you can see, I packed a lot into three days. It was exhausting, but great. I’ve saved my overall impressions and conference tips for part 2, which is coming up soon! Did you attend SLA this year? What did you think?