Friday, June 24, 2016

SLA Conference 2016

I'm home! It's been a week and a half, but I still feel like I'm getting back on my feet after a month of traveling - Puerto Rico (for fun), Ohio (for work), and Philadelphia (for school). Most recently, I was in Philly for the Special Libraries Association 2016 Conference. My boyfriend and I took advantage of the location to also stay with family outside the city, and we got to meet their new (four months old is new, right?) baby!

We drove to Philly on Friday (June 10) night after work and arrived in the suburbs at about 11:30pm. On Saturday we took a bus tour of the city with Rob's cousins and had a nice dinner with them - there was a lot of chilling out because it was so hot and muggy! On Sunday, after lunch, Rob headed home to Boston and I went to the conference downtown. Because of my stipend from SLA New England, I was able to get a rental car, which allowed me to drive in and out of the city each day.

View from the top of the parking garage!
My first multi-day conference experience was really interesting, and I think I found a good balance between enjoying myself and also learning quite a bit.

Here are some of the classes I attended:
  • MASTER CLASS: Best Practices in Data Management and User Engagement
  • The Role of Information Privacy and Ethics in Good Business Practices
    • This talk was very lively, as people definitely have strong opinions about big data and privacy. The panelists also really encouraged dialogue more than hosting a "watch and listen" presentation. I actually spoke up at the end, because I could see the conversation turning to, "young people put everything on the internet and don't care who can see it," and I wanted to point out that actually elderly people are some of the most vulnerable on the internet because they are not as likely to be critical users of the internet. Digital natives and millennials, I argued, deserve more credit than we give them. I'm glad I spoke up, because after my comment I had many people come up to me to continue the conversation.
  • Exhibitor Theater Presentation - Lucidea - Doing More with More: You Can't Shrink Your Way to Success
  • Cuba as an International Business Opportunity
  • The Importance of Soft Skills in Intelligence Gathering and Practice
  • Voter ID Laws: What We Need to Know
  • Preparing Students for Corporate Research Life
  • Ethnographic Research Methods
I also spent a lot of time in the INFO-EXPO, attended the Legal Division's Sunday night reception and Monday morning breakfast, and went to a Simmons alumni meet-up on Sunday evening.

You might notice that many of the events I attended were hosted by the Competitive Intelligence Division or very relevant to CI work. This was actually a coincidence, but I do think that it was a great way to prepare for my CI class this summer. On Monday morning, I remembered that my professor, Cynthia Correia, was attending the conference, so I emailed her and we ended up grabbing lunch together before she came back to Boston. I was glad to meet my professor in-person, since our summer class is online! While at lunch, we also ended up sitting next to a law librarian from a firm in New York City, and the three of us had a great conversation about CI, law firms, and legal research.

In reflecting on the conference, I think I really made the best of this conference and found a good balance between attending events, making contacts, and letting conversations happen spontaneously. I came home with a stack of business cards and new contacts with whom to follow up. I also let myself take some mental breaks, including a long lunch one day and a walk to see the Liberty Bell, so that I could return to the conference with a fresh mind, ready to engage.

My first conference experience was definitely a success and I am so grateful to SLA New England for their financial support!

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