Wednesday, June 09, 2010

SLA2010: Librarians and Information Professionals in the "Big Easy"

The Special Libraries Association Annual Conference is June 13-16, 2010 in New Orleans, LA.  This conference location and date have seen set for several years, and comes five years after hurricane Katrina (blog post) and weeks after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The area, which has been making steady improvement since 2005 is now starting to feel the economic impact of the oil spill.  Let's hope that our presence (and the money that we spend) will help New Orleans continue to have good times.

If you look at the calendar on my web site, you will see a number of events that I'm involved in at the conference.  That, however, isn't the full story.  Since I'm a candidate for the Board of Directors, there are many other commitments on my plate, including attending the open Board Meeting on Friday and Saturday, being video-recorded on Saturday (2 min. "speech"), and much more.  I have a lot of stamina and I'll need all of it for this conference!

The theme of the conference is "Entering SLA's Next Century: Let the Good Times Roll!"  For many cultural heritage institutions (and the organizations around us), however, these are not the good times.  While some are seeing budgets that are not as tight as last year, others are seeing their budget slashed.  And there are ar growing number organizations that are going through severe cutbacks.

With our future in mind, we need to:
  • Invest in ourselves - Education and training keeps us knowledgeable, employable, and desirable.  There are many organizations that provide training opportunities and we need to take advantage of them.  And we must be willing to spend our own money, if necessary, to get the training that we need.  Consider it a birthday or holiday gift to yourself. 
  • Network more - While what we know is important, who we know can be more important.  We find information, resources, and even job opportunities through other people. When times are tough, our people network is even more important.  Unfortunately, networks take time to build and cultivate, so getting your network in shape is something that you need to do all the time.  No matter the state of your network, now is a good time to check-in with people and revitalize your bonds.  Try to create stronger connections with as many people as possible.
  • Advocate for all cultural heritage organization and for the use of information -We can't leave advocacy to some group of people and hope that it is enough.  We all need to be advocates!  Our representatives are great voices for us, but our voices (and those of our users) actually carry more weight.  I takes time and effort to advocate, but it can be as easy as making a phone call or sending an email/letter/fax. 
  • Be transparent - We, what we know, our content, our organizations, etc. need to be findable and known...not hidden.  Gone are the days when it is good to put information out of view.  Now if information is hidden and not findable, it is as if it doesn't exist.  And if you are not findable, you don't exist.  I know that transparency isn't easy because it requires trust that we might not automatically have.  But we need to take the step and be as transparent as possible.  It will help to position us and help us survive.

As you might guess, these are some of the things I'll be talking about during various events at the conference.  And if you know me, you know that these are beliefs that I hold dear.  I hope they resonate with you and with people next week.

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