Blogging #SLA2014

Slightly expanded version starts here:

June 6, 2014

Arrive slightly jet-lagged after reading four chapters of The Accidental Taxonomist (Heather Hedden, who will be presenting and book signing at the conference) and two chapters of Finite and Infinite Games (James Carse, not really related to the conference, but very cool reading!) on the five-hour transcontinental flight, interspersed with chats with a law librarian from Boston on the same trek to Vancouver. Spent close to an hour in immigration in a long snaking line (lots of foreign tourism in Vancouver!). Channeled my people’s ancestors, some of whom fled to Canada to escape the immorality of slavery and apartheid. Taxied to the hotel, caught my breath and headed out on a recon run of the city, checking out the conference hotel site and following up on a recommendation to check out the Japadog Food Cart at Burrand and Smithe (photos to follow!). Had two, in fact, with some locally brewed Kombucha back in the hotel room. Crashed about 8:30pm.

June 7, 2014

Woke up very early! Four AM-ish and time-disoriented. Decided to surf the SLA2014 website. Figured out that I needed to buy a ticket for the day-long Taxonomy Integration Session. But wait! No option to put it in the shopping cart! Whoops! Already sold out! Doggone it, brought the laptop for nothing! OK, decided instead to get tickets for Maximizing Consultant-Client Partnerships in the morning, and Competitive Intelligence for Librarians and Information Professionals in the afternoon. More to be said about both, but right now I have to head out to the conference site for breakfast with the Military Librarians…

So, back to it!

The morning session was led by two professional consultants, both obviously at the top of their game. They shared the stage with two members of a client team with whom they had worked, and together they shared real-life examples of aspects of the consultant-client relationship that worked well for them. While they described very well the efforts that resulted in success, I was waiting to hear about efforts that failed, despite best efforts. So I asked. And they provided honest answers.

Good tips in the first half on knowledge mgmt. practices, the project “journey,” the importance of making a business case, knowledge audits, and the idea that you can’t fight the culture of an organization. Good tips in the second half on integrity and ethics, on the need for consultants to focus on the big picture of a project, and the importance of knowing clearly what the client is seeking.

Finally, their presentation included references to case studies, journal articles, and chapters of books they had written that are available and freely downloadable from their websites.

The afternoon session on competitive intelligence exceeded expectations. It was so interesting, in fact, that later that evening I reconfigured my schedule to include more competitive intelligence sessions over the next several days.

Following a First timers reception, a small group had dinner together, then returned to the Marriott for a Trivia contest. Our team, Team Sara, took the bronze! A late night…

June 8, 2014

Sunday was the official opening of the conference. A local First Nation leader (Canadian version of Native American) gave a stirring invocation (I later learned that it is standard practice to have opening invocations provided by local natives — the public lands, including the waterfront properties, are all theirs, after all). He referred to us as medicine men who seek the gift of information from the Spirit and make it available to the people who need it. Can’t wait to see the video of the opening on the SLA website.

After the opening session, I split a competitive intel session, a panel of Borderless CI, with a session on MOOC challenges and ops for librarians. Then I split a session, The Evolving Information Professional (mostly government in the first half), with another CI session, Applying Elicitation Methods for Social Media Research. Then I attended a full Mary Ellen Bates session, Information Alchemy: Adding Value Where It Counts.

Exhausted from jet-lag and being up late the night before, I stumbled upon a Five Guys, took a burger and fries back to my room, dined, and crashed early.

June 9, 2014

Breakfast with the Military Librarians! Nice spread. Great conversation with Sharon, PJ, Marrette, Fani, Marianne and Stephanie and co-alums (CUA), Julie and Angela. Finally made it to a Taxonomy Division session, The Search for Meaning and Semantics. Outstanding session. I so love taxonomy! Took tons of notes, and a long list of “latter lookups,” concepts, published papers, books. Next was a roundtable with Rising Stars and SLA Fellows, recommended by co-alum Angela, one of the rising stars. Four consecutive components, different formats kept it lively and interesting. Mary Ellen Bates provided a futuristic presentation of what a new rising star might say in 2019, including mention of a SLA working Group, #SLAforTomorrow, so, me being me, I immediately tweeted it out. No response yet, though. I think the idea is still germinating. Nice chat afterwards with Mary, Jill, Angela, and Kevin, talking about the future of SLA, present trends inside and outside. Will tweet it out again tomorrow (no pun intended!). We need some future thinking!

Another Competitive Intelligence session, Analytic Frameworks that Deliver Value. Loving this competitive intelligence stuff. But alas, too much extroversion. Time for Ray to retreat. Found a quaint used bookstore on the way back to the hotel, McLeods. Excellent poetry section, All I needed. Found a rare Frank O’Hara volume, Poems Retrieved, and an original of Yeats’ A Vision. Got directions to a nearby chain bookstore, Chapters, and found a book by Native American scholar Vine Deloria, The World We Used to Live In. Picked up some fruit and water at a grocery store and returned to the hotel.

June 10, 2014

Last conference day. Breakfast with the Military Librarians group again. Just as I was about the tip toe out of the SLA Competencies session, my faculty advisor approached the microphone, adding clear and logical reasoning to the conversation. So I stayed. Quick word on the competencies document. We are in a field where whole new career paths will emerge within five years.

Sat through the whole session on The Accidental Data Scientist – A New Role for Librarians and Info Pros. Good session, lots of notes and later lookups. The Government Information Access session included panelists from the U.S. and Canada and was very revealing and enlightening, for very different reasons.

Spent lunch checking out the Douglas Coupland exhibit at the Vancouver Gallery of Art. I’ve never seen an artist of any genre come closer to the artistry of Whitman’s poetry. Coupland does for the 21st century what Whitman did for the 19th (well, maybe Whitman is a bit more timeless, but saying so reflects my own personal bias about the superiority of poetry as an art form. Coupland is still with us; it is not too late for him to heed the higher call and write poetry…). Lunch at the gallery café was a delight, insofar as one can experience delight unaccompanied.

Returned to the conference site in time for a 2pm session with Ken Haycock on Career Transitions When Money is Not the Motive. Good stuff: Myers-Briggs; Strength-Finder; Enneagram; Good to Great in the Social Sector; Work the Pond. Good food for thought. Business meeting was interesting, and closing session left me slightly unsettled. but got my questions answered at the Military Librarians reception later.

2 thoughts on “Blogging #SLA2014

  1. Pingback: Pre-thoughts on SLA2015 | Shifting Gears – Living in Multiple Worlds

  2. Pingback: Expanding on What I Learned in Vancouver for SLA 2015 - Special Libraries Association Special Libraries Association

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