Friday, 17 August 2012

SLA Chicago 2012 - Part 3

Last day of the conference

The last day was a short one for me as I was flying back home that afternoon. It started at 8am with a look at what’s next for social media. It didn’t really cover anything new for me, however, it did emphasise the need for a strategy. This has cropped up in several social media events I’ve been to recently so I have created one for my newly formed Social Sciences Twitter account, which will be completely separate from my personal account. I also intend to create one for the Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG)London and South East Twitter account. I have been able to pass this tip onto my work colleagues who are all in the process of creating their own accounts or reinvigorating old ones at a staff training session I delivered recently and intend to amalgamate some of the tips for further sessions.

Mary Ellen Bates in action
 - another lady who has trouble seeing over the lectern.
My next session was another delivered by Mary Ellen Bates and, despite having had to make some tough decisions over the last few days regarding which events to attend, I had no qualms about this one after attending her previous one. This one was entitled ‘Marketing for introverts’ and she started by claiming she was an introvert before going on to talk about how we can talk about our value in an obvious way. There was a lot packed into this session so this is another candidate for a separate blog post, however, some of the main points I took away were:
  • Get used to speaking off the top of your head as it will be sod’s law that you won’t have any notes or script when you could do with it most – I’m not great at this as I’m awful at remembering specifics but really want to try to improve this.
  • Promote, don’t defend what you do – I think librarians in general are very bad at this
  • Get a three second elevator speech – when the person opposites asks you to tell them more you can always go into your three minute more detailed synopsis of what you do.

The latter point was mentioned in several of the sessions in completely different contexts so this is something I aim to develop. I have mentioned it at the ARLG London and South East Committee as a possible training event as I think a lot of people could also do with developing this not only for themselves but for the resources and services they are providing. Nicola Franklin also posted a very useful and timely response to some of my questions about it.

The very last session I attended was on public libraries and the state of the ones in Chicago. Like libraries all over the world, they are struggling with funding cuts and closures and Chicago is no exception. The library of Gloucester got a round of applause for their innovative idea of borrowing all the books and Simon did his bit to promote Voices for the Library. As part of the session they included the American Library Association’s core values of librarians. If you have a look at them below I’d be very surprised if you didn’t feel just a little bit proud.So, after a debriefing from Bethan and a slice of leftover Chicago Town pizza I was ready to come back home. The whole experience has left me with so much to think about, write about and put into practice it could probably keep me going for a very long time.

The overall feelings and thoughts I have taken away are:

  • The Chicago Conference was incredibly well organised; everything seemed to run seamlessly and events stuck to time. It was often very difficult to choose which events to go to as several good ones seemed run at the same time; however, it must have been so much more difficult to plan the timetable and arrange the people so they were in the right places. Everything was huge and normally I prefer much smaller venues and fewer people but it worked well and didn’t make me feel overwhelmed or too crowded as can sometimes be the case in massive events
  • The whole event, even before it started, was very much connected by social media. It was quite easy to follow what was going on in other sessions and also feedback your own session to those who were elsewhere. On the other hand there was no pressure to do this if you didn’t want to. I didn’t tweet at all the lectures but the ones I did were often followed by those in the UK – it really made me consider the time of day I usually do this.  The person or team behind @SLAChicago was on the ball all the time and did a fantastic job at the conference itself and in the run up, offering advice and tips etc
  • I was impressed by how proud people were of their profession and of their fellow members within it. There were a multitude of prizes given but this didn’t seem to lessen the genuine pleasure people took from receiving them
  • Chicago has a lot of very fast revolving doors, which made entering every building just that little bit more exciting
  • American librarians really like dancing
  • An elevator/lift speech would be very useful to me as I generally say ‘I’m a librarian’ and then spend ages going through my job description. By which time both I and my companion are bored
  • I need to connect more with people and ask more questions. I often hear about people being helped with this and that and it gets them far in life.  I rarely ask for help, even from people who are there to give me advice.  This does make me much more independent but may sometimes mean I take a little longer to do things as I have to figure it out for myself
  • I think the friendliness of the American librarians has been remarked on by many UK attendees of the SLA Conference, even the vendors were nice and not in the hard sell, fake ‘have a nice day’ sort of way. I have made many contacts who I really hope to stay in touch with and I felt genuinely welcomed to be there.
Chicago was a fantastic opportunity for me and I'm very pleased to have won the award. It will keep me in blogging material for a long time! There were lots of people there who made it an enjoyable experience but I'd particularly like to thank Sara Batts for keeping an eye on us throughout the conference, Tracy Z.Maleeff for being incredibly friendly and welcoming not only at the conference but once we returned (and despite most of us not being law librarians), Bethan Ruddock for being a fountain of knowledge and also keeping an eye out for us. I'd also like to thank Ruth, Anneli, Marie, Simon and Giles - the loveliest bunch of people to share the experience of conferencing, cold pizza, jet lag and dancing with.

1 comment:

  1. Another great SLA conference write up.

    I'm a passionate believer in information professionals having a decent elevator pitch, and even wrote a blog about it.