"Only the strongest professions have the strongest associations" - 2012 SLA Hall of Fame inductee Susan Fifer CanbyChicago in July is hot, even with the lake breeze you can't escape the concrete jungle heat. So the key to my personal success in attending the annual SLA (Special Library Asociation) conference was:
- #1 was keep hydrated
- #2 pick the right sessions to go to (hard when so many are going on at the same time!)
- #3 when taking a break from sessions and sitting down with other attendees, choose a shady cool spot (learned that the hard way!)
Here are some high level themes i came back with:
- Throughout 2011 I kept an eye on the SLA Future Ready Project, a project that Cindy Romaine, SLA President 2011 had lead with the goal of finding and sharing information about how information professionals where or had to get 'Future Ready'- many of the sessions and conversations I was in where focused on what and where the profession of 'Special Librarians' was going. Many conversations on value (perceived and measurable), extension of roles (where else in the organization to embed oneself) and identity (what is a special librarian, what is the role of information in the enterprise, etc.). The general consensus i heard was that as a profession, information professionals feel that they are or are on the way to being 'Future Ready'.
- I attended a session on Collaborative Insights that highlighted some new information professional roles to embrace that i thought were great role descriptions for the skils and experiences that come with being an information professional in an enterprise including:
- Connectors at Critical Intersections
- Innovation Facilitators
- The Rise of Internal Enterprise App stores and the opportunity for Information Resource Centers/Corporate Libraries to become front and center to that new enterprise ecosystem. Being first in line to delivering valuable enterprise applications within these new platforms would raise awareness of the services provided and direct value to the enterprise.
- Types of collaboration skills to develop as an Information Professional includes 'Horizontal Collaboration' within organization - IT, HR, and very importantly Rainmaking with C level executives.
- In regards to Collaboration, I really liked this reminder from Mary Talley : "Collaboration Requires Intimacy"
- The shift to Self Service and Self Curation and the changes in how end-users use and consume information was another topic heard in the sessions in discussions with attendees- unlike the 'clients' of the past the skills AND the tools available to end-users enable self access (and success with it). Information Professionals MUST understand and become champions of these tools
- Very Popular sessions - Like 60 Apps in 60 minutes conducted by Scott Brown of the Social Information Group and Joe Murphy highlighted the need for Information Professionals to have a good grasp of tools that are out there so that they can make recommendations, compete effectively and become part of the App culture that the corporate enterprise is embracing.
- Guy Kawasaki- gave the keynote, focused on Enchantment (that is the name of his newest book). Although I wish Guy has focused a bit more on addressing the actual audience of information professionals (something he talks about being a requirement to enchant!)- his core message can be applied to pretty much any profession that is responsible for providing services and products: Enchant people and build something DICEE - Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering & Elegant
- Last but not least on my list, Lee Ann Benkert (pictured above)- @LRBenkert spontaneously organized an 'un-conference' session during lunch, asking people to join in the social media lounge and self-organize into small groups to talk about topics that were top of mind to them. It was a new thing for many of the attendees and it was great to see their excitement. I have been to many unconference events, and honestly the group session i was in was just ok (about identity as a special librarian- what should the title really be, etc.)- but the classy part was that Lee Ann managed to include the expo vendors who might have complained that this was taking people away from the expo floor booths during the time when attendees had free time to visit- by coordinating a 'flash-mob' visit to the vendor that best included themselves in the process of the unconference organization- well done!
There were many other sessions which you can view here, many have slide-decks as well (click through the session title) and there is also an Eventifier conference overview that has aggregated images, tweets, slides etc.
Thank you SLA for another excellent conference and thank you to all my old and new friends that i got to spend time with- see you next year in San Diego!