Sunday, March 06, 2005

2005 Special Libraries - SLA conference in Toronto

Last Thursday, I went to the Toronto Reference Library for a meeting of volunteers for the upcoming 2005 SLA conference in Toronto (June 5-8).

Every 10 years, the SLA, whose membership is predominantly American, holds its annual conference in Canada. These conferences attract thousands of library and information professionals.

The volunteer meeting was organized by the SLA Toronto chapter "Local Arrangements Committee" which has prepared online guides to Toronto (what to see and do), and which will be staffing info booths at the conference, telling delegates how to find the CN Tower and explaining to our American colleagues that no, Quebec City is not exactly that close even though it is also in Canada.

One of the most interesting parts of the meeting for the volunteers was a presentation by Stephen Abram on what first time conference attendees can do to get the most out of their conference experience (hey, that means me). His comments were based on an article he wrote in the spring 2004 issue of the SLA Toronto chapter's Courier newsletter.

Abram is President 2004-2005 of the Canadian Library Association and Vice President, Innovation of Sirsi Corporation. He is also a fellow of SLA and has sat on the SLA's international board. OK, let's just say he practically runs everything and knows everyone and everything in the library and information world so I have always trusted his comments.

In his advice to conference first-timers, the main points that stick in my mind are:

1) the top 3 questions to ask vendors

  • What do you have that's new?
  • Can you demo something interesting for me about your new/enhanced/improved products?
  • Are you making (Have you made) any announcements at SLA this year?

2) 'Ice Breaker Questions' when standing in line with people you don't know

  • Hi - I'm yournamehere and I'm from yourtownorlibraryhere. Where are you from?
  • What's new at your shop?
  • See anything new at the conference? Attend any great sessions? Learn something new?

3) Finally, these goals or benchmarks

  • I met one new person every day
  • I learned one useful thing I didn't know in a session every day
  • I had one substantive discussion with a vendor about a new product that I might need
  • I had fun, every day

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:48 pm

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