SLA in Philly: One Librarian’s Perspective

By , June 22, 2011 1:19 pm

by Kama Sue Siegel

One of the first things that struck me about this year’s Annual Conference v. last year’s (in New Orleans) was the milder weather. No! I’m just kidding! It was actually the atmosphere of positivity. Everywhere I looked I saw information professionals engaging each other animatedly, asking thoughtful and pointed questions, and encouraging–and enabling–their peers to better serve their organizations and communities. There was a complete difference in attitude between 2010 and 2011. Everyone was freaking out in 2010 about the economy, but in 2011 we’ve had time to adapt and strategize.

I believe that SLA 2011 President Cindy Romaine’s “Future Ready” campaign had a lot to do with the much sunnier outlook of our colleagues. If I could have made a word cloud out of the discussions I had with my fellow info pros last year, and compared it to one created this year, I believe there would be a marked difference. People were energized as opposed to discouraged, optimistic rather than pessimistic, and putting their words into action instead of complaining.

 That’s not to say that all was sunshine and rainbows. There were still many career-building sessions containing worried–yet hopeful–faces. Many of the panelists in these job-oriented sessions had good news to tell people, however, and any tips or tricks they had to offer were eagerly snapped up.

Turning now to the SLA Legal Division, I can’t say enough good things. It is doing a fantastic job with not only its conference programming, but also its various leadership initiatives and opportunities throughout the year. Chair John DiGilio has an amazing repository of good ideas, and the Legal Division committees are well-stocked with eager and creative individuals.

As for legal-specific programming, there was plenty to be had. I noticed many Competitive Intelligence-related sessions, but there were also extremely useful and substantive sessions about proving your value within your organization, going beyond the billable hour, and adapting to the new client-driven firm environment. Additionally, there were many opportunities to interact with vendors and colleagues in less formal settings, which were well-attended.

On a cautionary note–and you probably already know this–next year’s conference in Chicago will be the 15-18 of July, mere days before AALL (which will be in Boston). Tracy Maleeff, Legal Division Chair-Elect (and member of the SLA-Chicago Planning Committee), is concerned about how this juxtaposition will impact both vendor and member participation.

In general, I came away from this year’s Annual Conference feeling very upbeat and invigorated. I talked to many people who felt the same way. The programming and speakers were excellent, the location was convenient–for the majority of the membership, anyway–and the conference as a whole was very smoothly run.

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