Wednesday, 15 August 2012

SLA Chicago 2012 - Part 2

Early starts, ebooks and Macy's

Monday started early and finished late – this was the start of the 8am to 1am days I had been warned about – usually I tend to fall asleep but as I was still not yet accustomed to the time zone I was in it didn’t really matter what time it was. The 8am session on Wikileaks succeeded in making me feel insecure about security classification process - not something I was expecting first thing Monday morning. Apparently, librarians aren’t getting the right training and are using material decades out of date to help them classify information. This is wrong on many levels, but the worst thing is that people can still get into serious trouble for releasing classified information even if it should never have been classified in the first place.

PDA slide from session
This session was very quickly followed by a panel discussing eBooks and collection development. As I am now responsible for the collection development of my area in my current job and I buy a lot of eBooks I thought this would be right up my street. I was surprised there weren’t more people using patron driven acquisition (PDA); quite a few were trialling it but none had got much further. I like how using PDA (which in my head still automatically makes me think of public display of affection) can reflect trends much quicker though I was pretty shocked at the statistics of how few students chose books over DVDs. The downside of giving people what they really want is often they don’t know what’s good for them!

In between this session and the next I attended a lovely lunch hosted by the San Jose school where we were all informed about a 24 hour conference taking place in future which due to its long length means that anyone from whichever time zone can tune in at a reasonable time for them. One for the calendar methinks. I was initially blown away by the School paying the SLA membership fees for their library students, however, on reflection, I realise that with ridiculously exorbitant US tuition fees and student rates for SLA this doesn’t quite seem so magnanimous. It is still a nice gesture though and introduces newbies to their professional organisation – which is A GOOD THING.

After lunch I watched Bethan Ruddock in action on a panel discussing the difference between mindsets and skills and how people should not limit themselves when given a job but see it as an opportunity to go in with your eyes open and understand the organisation and your role within it. While a lot of interesting and useful points were made in this session, however, one of the key things I need to take away from this is that not all work is of equal value – I tend to want to do everything and everything well and feel a bit guilty when this can’t be achieved. I really need to evaluate what I’m doing and see what’s worth it and what’s not. If anyone has any advice on this it would be very much appreciated…

After a quick scoot round Macy’s and a brief swim, it was time to cheer on Anneli receiving her conference award.
Tiffany ceiling at Macy's
Anneli receiving her Conference Award

Speeches, pizza and dancing
Tuesday morning started with a very packed Mary Ellen Bate’s session. I was lucky enough to get a seat as I arrived early but there were many on the floor. I hadn’t realised that she was librarian royalty but I was left in doubt as to why! She was incredibly passionate, eloquent and articulate and despite being a solo librarian with her own business what she said could easily be transferred to other sectors. Having managed to leave my notebook in one of the several free bags I was given I took to using Evernote – I’m not the fastest typist so it was a little bit tricky but it was much easier to read the notes afterwards. She gave a huge amount of emphasis to the value-added, something that had come up previously in Monday’s panel session and cropped up throughout the conference. Having looked at making a small-holding work by adding value to produce (possible long term dream) I was not new to the idea, however, I’d not really come across it that often in a library setting – definitely a transferable skill!

Picture by Bethan Ruddock

After a packed lunch in the sunshine, kindly provided by the Info-Expo people (the lunch that is and not the sunshine) it was time to attend the Leadership and Management afternoon tea. Every ECCA had been sponsored by their division and had to be presented at a breakfast or tea to everybody and receive certificates or awards. I didn’t have a clue what to expect other than possibly saying a few word of thanks so felt rather apprehensive. As I looked at the minutes from the previous meeting I spied Ned Potter's name (he had won the same award the previous year) and at the bottom of the page there was a synopsis of his speech. As I looked at it my initial though was ‘that’s not too bad – I can do that’ - then I turned over the page and it went on! I suddenly started to feel very sick and when it was suggested that Anneli and I both give a speech I could have died – especially as you could barely see me over the podium. Luckily, enough stuff about the conference came back to me, including a Woody Allen quote from Monday’s panel session about 80% of success in life is just about showing up. I thanked them for sponsoring me and giving me the opportunity to ‘show up’ at the conference which I hoped would be the start of my own successful life. It seemed to work – everybody clapped and I didn’t trip or throw up although I had to quickly put my glass of water down as my hands were shaking violently.

I calmed my nerves by joining the ECCAs for a huge slice of mozzarella topped with tomato, otherwise known as Chicago Town Pizza. Then got ready for the 1920s themed IT party where Anneli, Ruth, Marie and I danced all night in our outfits and high heels – we’d lost the men at this point but did find Giles again before we were whisked off for margaritas – we were told this was in readiness for next year’s San Diego conference...

L-R: Giles, Ruth, Sarah, Anneli, Marie and Simon (photo from SLA Photographer)

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