President’s Message from “The City that Loves You Back”

By , August 19, 2011 8:33 am

by Crystal Sherman Norton

The first thing we noticed when stepping off the plane in Philadelphia was the heat.  Did I say “notice”?  Better put, when we stepped off the plane in Philadelphia, we were hit with a blast of heat that remained with us for several days.  Someone in the airport told us it was 101 degrees, and this was around 4:30 p.m.  You know how they say “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”?  In Philadelphia it’s both.  Enough about the weather already (but trust me, it was memorable!).

What a great conference this year!  I divided my time between Chapter Leadership Training, the Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section Summit: Change as Action, and some really great programs.  Saturday morning the Council of Chapter Presidents put on a Chapter Leadership Training session for newly-elected Chapter Presidents and Vice Presidents/Presidents Elect.  This meeting covered all that a Pres/VP needs to know in order to navigate his/her way through the 3 year commitment to an AALL Chapter.  Diane Rodriguez, outgoing President of the Council of Chapter Presidents, guided us through the ins and outs of resources available to us and introduced each speaker.  We learned about everything from Annual Meeting Programming to Preparing a Chapter Annual Report, and more.  We were each given a handbook to go along with the presentations.

Saturday after the CCP session (described above), I caught up with the PLL-SIS Summit program, as they were wrapping up their morning sessions.  I missed hearing the Keynote Speaker, Esther Dyson, in order to attend the leadership training program, so I was anxious to dive right in!  I caught the tail-end of a break-out session moderated by Joan Axelroth, called “What law firm administrators want librarians to know”.  I was sorry to have missed most of it, as the participants were just finishing their lively discussion.  Next I attended the Summit lunch, and heard even more lively discussion!  The first speaker, Greg Castanias (partner at Jones Day) captivated the audience with his views on how librarians add value to their law firms.  Mr. Castanias’s words were well-received by the audience, who at times broke into applause and waved the “thumbs-up” cards that had been placed on each table.  With the crowd warmed up, we heard from the “Three Geeks and a Law Blog” – live, on stage! – on trends, tempests, and teapots.  The afternoon breakout sections followed lunch, and included views and discussion on such topics as Administration, Reference/Research, and Technology/Tech Services.

Sunday it was on to the Exhibit Hall, more meetings and programs.  Apparently the idea this year was to get attendees into the Hall on more occasions, and in my eyes this effort succeeded.  Not only was the “opening reception” held in the Hall Saturday evening, but the very first thing Sunday morning, there was an Exhibit Hall Breakfast Break.  Both events were very well attended and the food was plentiful.  Monday Wolters Kluwer hosted a refreshment break in the Hall, and a closing reception “Connect to 2012” was held there Tuesday afternoon.

While I attended many programs, I must confess that most of them were sponsored by the PLL-SIS, as these programs were most applicable to my library setting.  Of those that I attended, there were two that stand out in my mind as to containing some really great information that added to my skill sets.  These were:  1. Mining the Depths of SEC Comment Letters and Company Responses – perhaps an obscure subject to some, but it was sure great to get some excellent background information and tips as to where to find the information we at times need; and  2. Teaching Advanced Google – a large law firm librarian helped attendees to hone their Google searching skills in order to get more relevant results, and provided us with a platform to develop such a course ourselves in our workplaces.

All in all, it was one of the best AALL conference experiences I’ve had.  Thanks so much to my employer, Riddell Williams P.S., LLOPS, and in particular the LLOPS Grants Committee, for helping me get there for this experience.

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