This is the Centennial Celebration of SLA. Vist SLA site to learn more www.sla.org.
Special Libraries Association (SLA) covers many diverse areas. A large number of the librarians are “solo” librarians. They are the only professional in their organization and do all the technical work themselves. I met librarians from the National Institute of Health, Boeing, Dialog, Quebec Liquor Board, pharmaceutical companies, a music library, Target (yes, the department store) plus academic “special libraries”. The main topic of discussion among librarians and at seminars was technology not books. The huge vendor expo was filled with booths offering products from databases to library school education (San Jose U, Drexel. etc.). Many of the leading database vendors had several booths such as Dialog, DowJones, Springer, and Ovid. Government databases, news, statistical and journal databases were everywhere. APA had a booth and scary as it seems to me – is coming out with a new edition of their citation guide. Most booths offer a drawing for a prize, usually related to their product, and offer promo items: pens, magazines, highlighters, tote bags, etc. Several vendors offered free ice cream in the afternoon and various groups, many divisions of SLA, sponsored buffets with finger food in the vendor area. Oh, by the way, L. Ron Hubbard had a booth !
The diversity of workshops was amazing. Some were offered for a fee and many, many were free. I chose free every time. There were many sponsored by divisions of SLA (IT; News; Solo Librarians; Chemistry; Academic; Museums, Arts amd Humanities; Military; Petroleum and on & on.) If you have an interest, there is a division or caucus that will include that interest. You will meet people that share your interest and work in related fields. There is a GLBTQ group, some of the members had a blast at the Gay Pride parade on Sat. night in NW D.C. I got to see some of the parade and it was great fun.
Colin Powell was the keynote speaker for the opening ceremonies. He was excellent! No matter what your politics you have to appreciate his knowledge, and the great responsibilty and service he took on for our country. He spoke, without notes, with no podium (one was available he just chose not to use it) for an hour. He was humorous and entertaining. He would be great at a party! He is very saavy about social networking (he claims his granchildren will not answer his e-mails, they only want to tweet), technology and information management. He was responsible for a huge techno overhaul in the State Department. He has great appreciation for librarians, knowledge managers or whatever we want to call ourselves. He understands what we do and how important it is. It felt great to be appreciated.
The officers of SLA were all friendly and helpful. The current Preident, Gloria Zamora, came around to members attending the “First-Timers” seminar and introduced herself, gave out her business card and was very friendly. She is a librarian at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. She later was the host for the opening ceremony, awards and keynote speaker session. The jumbo-trons gave everyone a great view of the ceremonies and the quality of the picture was excellent. Before each award a short trailer introduced the recepient and their achievements. It was very helpful to know who these people were and what they had done. The winners were young, old and in-between. There were awards for “Rising Stars”, Fellows, and Leadership awards. It was fun to learn about the different fields these librarians were in and what they did to merit an award.
I had a great time and learned a lot too. The people I met were fantastic: fun, helpful and smart. It was well worth the sore feet. There are pictures on Flickr from the events. I will go through and pick some to post when I get caught up with my schoolwork.