Monday, July 08, 2013

#SLA2013 : Looking Back at the SLA Annual Conference

Living Desert Zoo and GardensMy June was dominated by the SLA Annual Conference in San Diego and an extended stay in California.  I did not blog as much as I had hoped, partially due to my responsibilities as a member of SLA's Board of Directors and partially because I wanted to enjoy the moments.  Indeed California provided many wonderful moments!

Like Lucy in Peanuts During the conference, I was a presenter in three sessions:
  • The Experts Are In: One-Off Career Advice (panel)
  • Make the Most of a Difficult Situation: Solutions to Get You Through (presentation/discussion)
  • Leading From the Library: How Can I Be A Leader When _______________? (panel) 
The Experts Are In. (c) The Photo Group 2013 – All Rights ReservedIf you look closely, you'll see a theme.  Each was a session geared for professional advice.  In "The Experts Are In", a team of us did one-on-one sessions with attendees, who signed up on the spot.  Each person had 8 minutes to state their problem/opportunity/concern and to receive input.  Each advisor remained busy for the entire session! "Leading from the Library" was a panel, where people could ask questions.  "Make the Most of a Difficult Situation" was me leading a session, where people could ask questions about their situations and the entire room of approximately 60 people brainstormed solutions. (I also provide tips that can be used in any situation.)  Yes, we come to conferences to learn and to network...and sometimes we also seek advice about our sticky situations.  Who better to get advice from than those who have already walked in our shoes?

Keynote speaker - Mike Walsh
Think big. Think new.
Think quick. - Mike Walsh

Can You Hear Me Now?:  Mike Walsh didn't utter those words, but they did come to mind.  Walsh, our keynote speaker, spoke about changes that are occurring in how we all do business, as well as those changes that are on the horizon.  And it occurred to me that he has not been the first - nor will he be the last - to give us a call to action.  My concern is - do we act on the call?  The excuses that people give vary, but often include "I don't see how it relates to libraries or to me."  We are still talking about James Kane, who spoke at the conference in Philadelphia (2011), yet have we heeded his call to action?  Oh...yeah..."it's difficult."

There is a story of a new minister, who gave his first sermon in his new church on a Sunday morning.  The next Sunday, he gave the exact same sermon, and the congregation felt that perhaps the minister had gotten confused, because he was new, so they didn't say anything.  The third Sunday, he gave the exact same sermon and this time the congregation said something. "You've given the exact same sermon three Sundays in a row," they said.  His response, "I'll keep giving the same sermon until you actually listen to it!"  At our conferences, we're hearing variations on the same theme, but are we really listening?

Mission San Juan CapistranoNothing Like Seeing the Real Thing: I grew up in a house that didn't have a keyboard, which says something about my age.  While I have adapted quite well to the tech that I carry, I do like to see things "in the flesh" (or in real life).  Much of my trip to California was taken up with all that real life had to offer, including visiting two of California's mission churches from the 1700s.  When they talk about the Mission San Diego de Alcala moving from - what is now - the Seaport Village area to its current location, the distance becomes more real when you travel it (even by trolley). 

There is a car commercial that mocks our current obsession with online.  In it, the customer looks up from his phone and says that the car looks so real.  While was is real may be the digital asset, should not forget the reality of the non-digital world around us.

SLA - Final Thoughts: San Diego is an excellent location for a conference!  The convention center is next to the Gaslamp District, which is full of restaurants and hotels.  The city is very walkable and who can complain about the weather?! 

It seems that every convention center has an odd layout and San Diego's is no different.  I think the layout may have caused less mingling, but that's just speculation.  (The view from the "back" of the convention center is awesome, by the way!) 

The hallways review of sessions seemed to denote that overall the sessions were good and that people were learning from them.  Attendees need to go home with new knowledge, in order to provide to bosses and coworkers that the expense was worthwhile.  I don't think SLA disappointed!

For me, this was my final conference as a member of the SLA Board of Directors.  Next year, in Vancouver (BC, Canada), I'll go back to being one of masses. I'm looking forward to seeing the conference again from that point of view!

More Digitization 101 SLA2013 blog posts:

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