Last month I was fortunate enough to travel to both SLA 2011 conference in Philadelphia and ALA 2011 conference in New Orleans. Below are my musings on the sessions and events that I attended. Enjoy!
SLA 2011 - Philadelphia
In the morning, I attended the Leadership Development Institute (LDI) where the chapter and division leaderships gather to hear updates from the President, Treasurer and other leaders across the association. This session is open to anyone interested in serving in a leadership role in SLA. The main topics discussed were SLA’s 2015 strategic vision, a possible revamp of the continuing education (CE) programs at conference, the association’s financial picture, upgrade of the chapter, division & caucus websites and the results of the James Kane’s loyalty survey. Also the SLA Board candidates did a quick talk on their reason for running for office and their goals for the association if elected. You can read about the candidates and their responses on the SLA blog. The candidates for President-Elect are also coming to DC for a meet and greet in August. I found attending last year’s session was helpful in just seeing how each candidate presented themselves.
Sunday afternoon I attended the News Division tour of Rosenbach Museum & Library. This museum was located in the lovely and quaint neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square. The Rosenbach brothers were rare book & antique collectors. Being originally from the Philadelphia area, it was interesting to learn about some local celebrities as well as see their collections.
I also attended the opening session where New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke. He talked about globalization and the impact on information technology. His book, The World is Flat, came out in 2005 and a lot of changed in the past 6 years. Donald Hawkins wrote a nice summary of the talk for Information Today.
I ended the day with a nice celebration at the National Constitution Center with other leaders and conference attendees.
I attended a “fun” session called CSI Philadelphia where Gene Lanzillo from the Philadelphia FBI Office Evidence Response Team walked through a series of (fake) crime scene photographs and explained how he would approach the scene.
In 1992, the Evidence Response Team was created. The team members are part-time collecting evidence at scenes. The rest of the time they are solving national security cases. For every incident, the team members ask two main questions are 1) What is the context? 2) Is there a legal authority to be at the scene?
All FBI agents get one week of evidence training at Quantico. Evidence Response team members get furthering training after they start their job. The guiding principle they use is that when any two objects meet they leave evidence.
The rest of the day I prepped and ran a committee meeting and then went to the Mid-Atlantic Reception.
In the morning, I had breakfast with a library student and attended a few sessions.
In the afternoon, I went to a session called Alternate Uses of a Library Degree. A panel of 5 people was moderated by Ruth Wolfish. Each panelist was given a set list of questions and they presented their answers to the attendees. Overall all panelists identified that people who are able to be flexible, open minded and not afraid of change, have good communication skills, and can be resourceful are more likely to succeed at a non-traditional job. A few other key points that surfaced were ‘Always say yes!’ and ‘Opportunities come through networking’.
Kim Dority wrapped up the other panelists and reminded us of some basic career development guidelines:
Kim Dority wrapped up the other panelists and reminded us of some basic career development guidelines:
- The nature of our profession is that we support each other
- We are all self-employed
- Change is always heading our way
- The investments you make in yourself will define your career opportunities
- Be planting seeds all the time
- Forget about perfection, focus on resiliency
In the evening, I took a little time out from conference activities and went to see the Phillies.
First thing, I moderated a Technical Standards Update session with Todd Carpenter from NISO and Margie Hlava from Access Innovations.
After that I tried to go to another session, but the room was full so I headed to the Reading Terminal Market for some lunch. Before heading home to DC, I attended the closing session to hear James Kane speak again. His slides can be found here.
ALA Annual – New Orleans
I arrived in New Orleans and found my hotel with no problems. First conference activity ended up being on the famous Bourbon Street at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Linda Crook, incoming NMRT President, and I represented NMRT at the Spectrum Scholar Professional Options Fair. Divisions and Roundtables from across ALA and other organizations as well gathered in a ballroom to share what opportunities and activities they could provide for these diverse group of librarians. For me it was a good challenge to get my NMRT elevator speech perfected as well as a great opportunity to meet some new folks. I was so inspired by the event, that I’m already brainstorming how the same concept could be applied for NMRT members and other first time conference attendees with our orientation programs.
Unfortunately, I came to New Orleans with a little cold and had to take it slow in the morning. But in the afternoon I did attend the first of two conference orientation sessions that NMRT provides. It was great to meet some new librarians/library students as well as see what information is given at the orientation sessions. My first conferences I did not attend one of the sessions and after hearing the session I kinda wish I had gone to one.
In the afternoon, I attended the opening session with Dan Savage. Prior to Dan speaking, Roberta Stevens, the President of ALA, provided a status on some of her initiatives as well as gave out awards to different librarians. Also the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, came out and spoke a bit about how the city is revitalizing itself and to thank ALA for being the first organization to hold a conference in New Orleans after Katrina hit.
Dan Savage’s talk was focused on how the It’s Get Better project got started. It was really inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time to hear the statistics and stories that he shared. I’ve heard Dan Savage speak live before, but it was as a “guest” on This American Life. The session was in a huge auditorium and it was great to see that very few seats were empty.
In the evening, I went to the NMRT Mentoring Social. I signed up to be a conference mentor for the first time this year. I ended up being assigned two mentees and coincidently meet one of them on Thursday night. As with every NMRT event, it was good to meet new librarians and library students and hear what issues are on their mind. The job market is still tough for entry level positions and taking a risk to find that first library position is tough.
Early morning start to attend the second NMRT orientation session. I was glad to see a tad bit more interaction between participants and the panel at this session.
After that session it was time for the NMRT Executive Board meeting. We had a nice group of existing and new board members (and guests) join us. We presented Past President Courtney Young with a thank you/birthday gift. Current President Deana Groves was also presented with a thank you gift. The incoming board was tasked with reviewing NMRT’s strategic plan to align it with ALA’s 2015 strategic plan.
I took a short break for lunch at the Riverwalk shops next to the convention center and then went to the NMRT President’s Program which focused on professional involvement at the local and national level. The panelists were very enthusiastic and helpful about how they found opportunities to serve on committees and grow their skills.
Next up I went to hear a presentation on linked data within authority lists and vocabularies at the LOC booth. The presentation walked through LOC’s experimentation with surfacing their authority lists & vocabularies via linked data. Linked data was definitely one of the buzz words/topics at conference this year. I heard that one linked data session had over 200 people interested in it (via the conference scheduler), but the room only held 100 people.
A new session for NMRT was a joint discussion group with LLAMA. Three panelists gave 8-10 minute talks on how they became new leaders and/or leadership topics. After that the attendees broke up into small groups and discussed the topics that the panelists had talked about. Again it was a nice way to meet and network as well as share experiences with leadership. I’m excited that NMRT & LLAMA are starting up a partnership and I’m looking forward to more opportunities to network between the two groups.
In the evening, I went to the Scholarship Bash at the World War II museum. It was a nice atmosphere to mingle and enjoy the museum as well. The highlight of the evening for me was the two musical groups – a small jazz ensemble and a trio of women who sang songs from the WWII era.
This day was my busiest of the whole conference. In the morning I had two meetings regarding possible partnerships with NMRT. As incoming NMRT Vice President, it was a different conference experience for me since I had to split my conference activities between NMRT activities/discussions, professional development sessions and author related sessions.
In the afternoon, we had a NMRT membership meeting. While the group that gathered was small, it was helpful to hear what interests, concerns and questions they had about ALA, conference and the library world. I was impressed with how eager they were to volunteer and learn more about NMRT & ALA as a whole.
After a quick Starbucks trip, I attended the ALA President’s Program with Sue Gardner from the WikiMedia Foundation. She used to be a producer for the CBC so there was an interesting journalism twist to her talk. We’ve had Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales speak at work a few times, so it was also good to hear Wikipedia spoken about from a different perspective as well.
In the evening, I went to two back to back receptions for NMRT. First up was the Student Reception where the Student Chapter of the Year award was presented as well as the NMRT Video award. After that I headed over the NMRT/Merritt Fund Reception at a local art gallery. The space was quaint, but unfortunately the band playing made it almost impossible to talk and network.
It was an early morning again to attend the Legislative Assembly meeting to represent NMRT. While I was aware of ALA’s Washington Office, I wasn’t aware that legislative representatives from across the organization meet to report on their activities at conference. I learned a lot and there are some good opportunities for NMRT members to become involved in legislation activities.
The rest of the day I got to listen to three different authors back to back. First up was Marilyn Johnson who wrote a wonderful non-fiction book about librarians last year. She is active in ALTAFF’s “Authors for Libraries” program. She shared how she came to write a book about librarians as well as how writers need libraries as much as libraries need writers. After that I briefly sat in Jeff Jarvis’ talk about privacy versus public in the digital age. He has a new book coming out in September called Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way we Work and Live. Last, I went to a reading by Eleanor Brown of her first book Weird Sisters. I read an advanced reading copy of this book a few months ago and loved it. Eleanor has a lovely personality and even though the crowd was small for her reading, I enjoyed her talk immensely. Even though I have a copy of her book already, I stood in line for her to sign a hardcover copy.
In the afternoon I went with a group of librarians to tour an independent jazz radio station – WWOZ. It was fascinating to see how a local radio station archives their collection and operates. It turns out that WWOZ is digitizing their CD collection in a similar method that NPR is using for our commercial music collection. The Library of Congress also helped to archive and preserve some performances they had on DAT tapes and other older formats so that WWOZ could reuse in the future.
The last session of the day was Battledecks 2011 which challenges participants to get through a random 10 powerpoint slides with 5 minutes while talking about the future of libraries. I’ve heard about this event at past conferences, but I have never attended in person. Definitely a fun way for conference attendees to “let their hair down” at the end of the conference and just have some fun.
Last day in New Orleans started out with the closing session with SNL alumni Molly Shannon. She wrote a children’s book called Tilly the Trickster. Molly talked about how she became interesting in acting, comedy and finally ended up at SNL in New York. She explained how skits are written and chosen for the live show. She called her time there a comedy boot camp. While Molly was clearly a little nervous, her reading of her book at the end was a lovely way to wrap up this conference.
I spent the next 4 hours or so being a tourist – riding the streetcar and exploring the French Quarter a bit – before heading to the airport.