I’ve just returned from SLA 2011 having won an Early Career Conference Award generously sponsored by SLA Europe and SLA Legal Division. Having slept off the majority of jet lag, I am feel in a slightly better position to blog a few of my initial reactions to the conference.
The thing I want to convey first is the sheer size of the event. When the registration hall looks like this, its a good indication that its going to be big…
Thankfully, my co-sponsors provided me with two great mentors, one from SLA Europe and one from the SLA Legal Division. Sara and Liz were both fantastic at providing tips and tricks to selecting sessions to help me get the most out of the event. There can be anywhere in the region of approximately eight to twenty-two sessions running concurrently so selecting which one to attend can be a bit of a challenge. This was definitely one of the strengths of the conference though; you are never stuck for a session to attend! What I found harder was pausing and take a minute to think about what has been said, and making sure any notes are in an order that will make sense at a later date.
I want to mention the networking opportunities at SLA, but feel that networking sounds too objective. Granted, there was A LOT of business card swapping (see Conference Preparations for my worries on this), but I met many people who I spoke to at length and felt I got along with really well. To give an idea of just how much talking took place, I have now lost my voice and numerous throat sweets are being consumed to repair it in time for New Professionals Conference on Monday! Like many things connected to SLA, I’ll attempt to expand on this further in a later blog entry (networking experiences, not the effectiveness of Strepsils).
The sessions themselves were fantastic. I attended a mix of general sessions and those aimed at members of the legal divison (though you are free to attend events hosted by all divisions). This provided a nice mix between big ideas tailored for libraries as a whole, and ideas and problems directly related to my field of interest. John DiGilio and Gayle Lynn-Nelson’s ’60 Sites in 60 Minutes Gets Collaborative’ was a highlight, as were interactive sessions such as Mary Ellen Bates and Gayle Gossen’s session on delivering elevator speeches.
Much of the conference felt slightly surreal, a bit like an episode of The Magic School Bus (for those that remember it). Absolutely fantastic, but a bit crazy at the same time.
Definitely time to start saving, as I’m determined to return to future SLA conferences!