Heather Buchansky: Site-seeing in Chicago
In mid-July, thousands of Information Professionals descended upon Chicago for the annual SLA Conference. Thanks to the generous student grant from Infomart, I was among the crowd piling into McCormick Place, excited and eager to take in my first international professional conference. I had used the online conference planner to select the morning and afternoon sessions, as well as evening receptions. Many of my take-aways from the conference were found in the enormous Info-Expo, jammed packed with vendors showcasing innovative and creative solutions for info professionals, or in the websites mentioned in the workshops. The sites ranged from professional to simple pleasures, but left me wanting to check them out upon my return home.
The first speech, and site, was from Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple Computer Inc. Guy kicked off the conference as the guest speaker of Sunday’s general session. His talk on the art of enchantment was a charming introduction to the conference. His slideshow offered up ten tips on this art and how to influence individuals. Guy is co-founder of Alltop.com, which tries to, “collect the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a topic,” about all topics from acupuncture to zombies, or simply ‘Alltop’.
Two of the most anticipated sessions, with standing room only, were ‘60 Sites in 60 Minutes’ and its counterpart ‘60 Apps in 60 Minutes.’ The presenters for each hour-long talk scrolled through 60 useful, interesting, entertaining websites and smartphone apps for work and play. These sessions made an appearance the previous year’s SLA conference in Philadelphia, and promise to be back for 2013 in San Diego with some new material.
Another session dealing more with personal branding was Mary-Ellen Bates’ ‘Marketing For the Rest of Us: A Guide for Introverts.’ Mary-Ellen, an expert in customized information research and President of Bates Information Service, also dispenses interesting and informative posts on her ‘Librarian of Fortune’ blog.
I played it safe for the first couple days of the conference, heading to sessions that were either linked to my current field of librarianship (academic), or general sessions on marketing and social media. For the last session, I ventured outside my work realm and attended ‘Competitive Intelligence: Identifying, Managing, Disseminating and Leveraging Reliable, Current, Actionable Knowledge,’ by Sabrina Pacifici, founder of LLRX.com. This website lists a wide range of Internet research resources and tools. Competitive intelligence was an area I know very little about, but was keen to learn what it entailed. Sabrina’s CI’s Selective Resource Guide has a list of both free and fee-based (good info costs!) websites and databases, which is a digestible introduction into the field.
After four days of conferencing, networking, and taking in sights and tastes of Chicago (Art Institute! Deep Dish Pizza!), I also had a list of websites to bookmark, as souvenirs to remember SLA 2012 Annual Conference.
— Heather Buchansky
Stacey Nordlund: My SLA 2012 Experience
In July, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the SLA 2012 Annual Conference as one of the two recipients of the Infomart Student-to-Conference Award. As a new MLIS graduate, this was my first time attending the SLA Conference. I prepped by following the suggestions outlined in ‘Tips for First Time Attendees’ on the SLA Conference website. The tips there are useful for any first-time conference-goer and well worth a look—even if you’re an experienced conference attendee, there’s always something new to learn.
I began my trip by exploring the city. First, a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, followed up by a stroll through Millennium Park. I concluded my pre-conference activities with the highly recommended Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, an absolute must for architecture and/or history buffs. The 90-minute cruise provided a scintillating overview of the construction of Chicago over the last century. I was thrilled for the opportunity to view Goldberg’s Marina City and River City in person.
The next day, the conference kicked off. First up for me was the ‘SLA Fellows and First-Timers Meet’ session. This was a great introduction to the conference; as an added bonus, one of the first people I met was, coincidentally, from Toronto. This was followed by the opening session, with speaker Guy Kawasaki, and then began the fun challenge of whittling down my preferred program sessions to a reasonable number. The popular ‘60 Sites in 60 Minutes’ and ‘60 Apps in 60 Minutes’ were fast-paced and a fun way to learn about new and interesting resources.
As a new Information Professional, however, I was most interested in the career-related sessions to help me get a sense of the different types of information environments in which to work, and to learn about adapting library skills to non-library environments. Sessions like ‘Seeing Your Career From the Outside, In,’ moderated by Jane Dysart; Richard Hulser and Deborah Hunt’s session ‘Reinventing Library Skills;’ and Diane M. Goldstein’s ‘Your Resume as a Marketing Tool: Make it Count!’ were filled with great ideas and new insights. Finally, I was particularly glad for the opportunity to see Peter Morville speak in person about the importance of developing search engines using basic design principles at his session ‘Enterprise Search: An Information Architect’s Perspective.’
I knew Chicago in July would be hot. But the word ‘hot’ doesn’t adequately describe the intense heat that slammed me every time I set foot outdoors. I planned accordingly (as best as one can plan for such discomfort!), and promptly scurried from hotel to shuttle to McCormickPlace , and (of course!) to social events. I mapped out my schedule and route ahead of time so as not to risk melting outdoors. After all, not even ridiculously high temperatures would keep me away from the Chocolate Reception at the beautiful Newberry Library.
Other social events, including the Karaoke Party, Canadian Reception (with my fellow SLA Toronto folks!), and, of course, the fabulous IT Division and Dow Jones Dance Party, were a great way to meet new people and have some fun after sitting in program sessions all day. And, did I mention the Chocolate Reception? Tasty, delectable treats combined with the opportunity to network with other information professionals? Win-win. In addition, as a recent graduate of the San José State University MLIS program, I enjoyed the rare opportunity to connect face-to-face with faculty, staff, alumni, and current students from SJSU’s School of Library and Information Science at both the American West Reception and SJSU SLIS Lunch Reception.
To sum up SLA 2012 in a word = Awesome. My sincerest thanks to both SLA Toronto Chapter and Infomart for extending this amazing opportunity. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference; plus, San Diego will feel downright cool after Chicago. See you there!
— Stacey Nordlund
Stacey holds a B.Sc in Psychology from the University of Toronto and graduated with her MLIS from San José State University in Spring 2012. She lives in Toronto and works as a reference librarian for the Toronto Public Library, specializing in local history and genealogy, and is a volunteer for askOntario’s chat research service.