My SLA Annual Conference
This was a momentous annual conference. I arrived in Vancouver, BC late Friday night after a memorable week spent in DC at the Leading Change Institute. The last, and only, time I set foot in Vancouver, was 30 years-plus ago. The city of course changed a lot since then but it is as stunningly beautiful as I remember it. My conference started with the best badge ever. My badge reflected my candidacy as a SLA board candidate, my new Fellow of SLA award and the two sessions in which I spoke. I also added my brand new Leading Change Institute and Fellow pins and a maple leaf since the conference took place in my home country.
Saturday started with the candidates’ breakfast in President Kate Arnold’s suite and the open Board of Directors meeting. I met many first-timers at the Fellows & First Timers Meet (always a good session) and the day ended with open houses like Trivial Night.
Sunday, all the new Fellows received their award onstage at the Opening General Session. The keynote speaker was John Wilbanks, Chief Commons Officer at Sage Bionetworks and a Senior Advisor to the National Coordination Office. His talk was both interesting and disquieting as it discussed big data, its powerful applications and how much personal information can be found (and purchased) online. Ethical issues were not discussed, egads. Later that day was my first Fellows Meeting. The Fellows are obviously very committed to the association and its well-being and it’s an honor to be among them. I later discussed assessment and proving the value of libraries with colleagues at the Academic Roundtable. The evening ended with meeting members in open houses and rocking Men without Hats at the Karaoke Party.
Monday, my day started with the Academic Division Business Meeting. It’s always nice to see new members attend. As Awards Chair, it was my very pleasant duty to give out our Division awards: the Stacey Greenwell Outstanding Division Member award to Juliane Schneider and the Springshare Innovation in Academic Libraries award to the Health Professions Division Library at Nova Southeastern University for their iOS apps lending program. I also got to introduce our Academic Division’s Early Career Conference awardee, Michelle Bond of the University of Liverpool Hope University. We co-sponsored this award with SLA Europe. It’s the first time the Academic Division sponsored a travel award for a new professional and I feel it’s one of the best decisions we took in my year as Chair. A rich conference experience is so important to establish a career and cement membership to the association. Giving the opportunity to attend to a member outside North America is just the cherry on the sunday.
My first session took place mid-day, the Rising Stars and Fellows Roundtable. My co-presenter, Sam Wiggins and I, interviewed each other specifically about information services as a profession without borders and what it meant for SLA. We could have talked for a long time. I also attended the Baseball Caucus session with speaker Kit Krieger who travels regularly to Cuba to observe how the sport is played there and is friends with many Cuban ballplayers. The Cabinet meetings finished the day. My fellow candidates and I were busy in the evening, rich in open houses including the Canadian and International receptions. Somehow, the venues always end up too small for those.
On Tuesday, I broke bread with the nice folks at the Military Division and attended attended the Digital Humanities session with Laurie Allen, Amy Buckland and Trish Rosseel. Definitions, content, collaboration, sustainability were all discussed, in large and small institutions. I then had a schedule conflict between the Arabian Gulf Chapter and the Asian Chapter meetings. I picked the latter and learned about the ICoASL conference that will take place in Seoul in April 2015. I participated in my second panel, Working Across Cultures, organized by SLA Europe, with co-presenters Hyoshin Kim, Don Roll, and moderator Geraldine Clement-Stoneham. We shared scholarship, insights and stories about working in other countries or with people from different cultures. The topic is rich in content, the audience was highly participative and I feel we could have talked for another hour easily. I also The Academic Board Meeting, the SLA Annual Business meeting, and the Closing Session rounded up the day. The Closing Session took the form of four TED-like talks by Brandy King, Joshua Maleeff, Heather Piwowar and Sarah Glassmeyer.
My week ended with a private group visit to the W.A.C. Bennett Library of the Simon Fraser University. We saw the multiple renovations that has taken place in the building, including the new Research Commons for grad students and faculty, and the completely remodeled third floor with merged service desk, learning commons and classroom. Thank you to Elaine Fairey, Acting Dean of Library Services and University Librarian, and Natalie Gick, Associate University Librarian – Administrative Services, for their hospitality and the tour. And also congratulations to all the SFU graduates as we arrived in the midst of convocation
Overall, I think this was a very successful conference. I was pleased to see so many first-timers, new members and many Canadian info pros. I look forward to next year’s, in Boston, MA. The theme for that conference is Be Revolutionary and the keynote speaker will be Fortune magazine editor and author Leigh Gallagher.
For my fellow candidates and I, the next steps consist in continuing the blog questions. The webinars have also been set up and registration is open. For candidates to the position of Director, the webinar is July 31st, 3PM Eastern Daylight Time.