On Saturday, I’m off to SLA 2011 in Philadelphia courtesy of SLA Europe and SLA Legal Division (thank you!). Not only will this be my first time in America, but also my first conference. A big double, and needless to say, I’m very excited. In an attempt to make use of my excess nervous energy I thought I’d blog about my preparations building up to the conference.
I have been doing a bit of reading about conferences and what to take. My first concern was possibly my most trivial. What to wear. Dress code seems to vary a lot, more so than I was expecting; by all accounts it varies from full business dress to shorts and t-shirt. I think I’ll be going for a smartish trouser/shirt combo. I’ve also heard that the conference centres in America enjoy their air-con to combat the current high temperatures, so a jumper will be packed too!
I’ve also made up some business cards. This is something that seemed quite alien to me, but it seems to be the done thing over the pond. I was unsure what to put on them, so I ended up getting at bit carried away and added an email address, my twitter username, my blog URL and my Linkedin. At the time, all of these seemed like a good idea; after all I didn’t want to miss anything off! I’m now wondering if my email and blog URL would have sufficed. This would have enabled people to get in touch, and learn a bit about me via the blog. Are people less likely to sift through my blog to find my Twitter name though? Or search through hundreds of other people called Sam to find the right one on Linkedin? I’m not sure, but it is definitely something to think about for the next revision of the business card.
I also added a ‘tag line’ under my name. I’ve attempted to tie this in to my current networking aspirations. At the moment, this means keeping an eye out for potential employment opportunities. Instead of simply putting ‘MA Student’, I therefore opted for ‘Aspiring Law Librarian’ in the hope that it will stimulate conversation relating to possible jobs, but also things relating to my dissertation (looking at information services in law firms). As with the contact details, I have had reservations about this since having the cards printed. I hope that seeing a different sector won’t put people off talking to me, nor limit employment possibilities in other areas (I’d be open to working in a wide range of library environments – I think a breadth of knowledge from different sectors is important to providing a strong service). Time will tell on that one. Again, something to consider for subsequent versions.
I’ve also been attempting to schedule the sessions that I want to attend whilst at the conference. I’m amazed at the depth, and breadth of the conference. My SLA mentor phrased it quite nicely, explaining that it is a bit like a whole load of different mini conferences rolled into one, which explains quite a few of the overlaps between sessions. I’m not too worried about sessions being American focussed or too complex, as you are free to change out of a session if you decide it isn’t for you. I’ve therefore got a few backups planned just in case.
For some further pre-conference thoughts and advice, take a look at Natalia’s recent post for conference first-timers.
Once I’m back, I hopefully will get round to writing an entry comparing my experiences at SLA 2011 with those presenting at the CILIP New Professionals Conference. Keep an eye out for that!