Extras – A First-Timer at SLA – “Change as Opportunity”

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Cindy Chick is the Director of Library Services at the Los Angeles office of Graham & James LLP and has been a law firm librarian for 17 years. She received her M.L.S. from UCLA with a specialization in law librarianship. Cindy is the co-editor of LLRXchange, and has developed several software programs for law libraries under the name of CINCH Library Software

Change isn’t easy, as we all know. After 17 straight years of attending AALL conventions without fail, and one year off in 1996 for dog camp (yes, my dog and I went to camp, and had a great time, I might add), I decided to attend the Special Libraries Association Conference in Seattle. Why? Well, sometimes change is thrust upon you, and since I agreed to speak at SLA at the“Best of the Web” program, I decided to go all the way, and attend the entire conference.

The sheer size of the Special Libraries Association Conference is evident even before you arrive. The conference program is over 100 pages, and not all that easy to wade through, with a wide selection of programs offered by the different SLA divisions. Due to the hard work of the Legal Division president, Barbara Silbersack, the Legal Division offered 18 programs, including several in conjunction with other divisions. With such a variety of different divisions, Business and Finance, Food, Agriculture and Nutrition, just to name a few, there was also a variety of activities. Unfortunately, I registered too late to get into the News Division’s field trip to Microsoft.

In addition to the standard programs, there were Continuing Education sessions held on Saturday, Sunday and Thursday on topics ranging from corporate intranets, CD ROM networking, imaging technology, web design and presentation skills. After much inner-debate, I attended the “How to Make Your Training Sessions Come Alive,” which was definitely worth my time. (But I must admit that forgoing “The Seven Keys to Highly Effective Web Sites,” another program that received good reviews, wasn’t easy!) There were attendees from a cross section of SLA, including representatives from engineering, pharmaceutical, news, corporate, telecommunications libraries, all involved with end-user training.

Size does have its benefits, especially when it came to drawing good speakers. Whether you like Bill Gates or not, it was interesting to listen to his keynote speech, which was delivered to a packed crowd. He discussed the future of technology, and included a demonstration by a Microsoft librarian of the library’s intranet. (Microsoft actually has 42 librarians!) His speech was transmitted live over the Internet, and is still available for viewing. (You will need to download the beta version of a Microsoft plug-in called Net Show in order to view the presentation, and of course, have speakers available on your computer.) It is also available on videotape.

The next morning was Eugenie Prime with a “Practitioner’s Perspective.” If you haven’t heard Eugenie speak, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Call now to order the videotape. Eugenie will convince you that we as librarians can go forward into the 21st Century, with her emphasis on the positive and rejection of what she calls “whine-ology.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the meeting rooms were filled beyond capacity. I cursed my tendency to arrive at programs just as they were about to start as I joined a group of outcasts gazing longingly into the full room where the program on search engines was about to begin. (One of the many programs that wasn’t taped.) It went from bad to worse when the fire department representative arrived and shooed us away from the doorway. Luckily, Greg Notess and the other presenters included a great deal of material on their web sites.

And all was not lost. I hopped over to the program on Copyright sponsored by the Legal Division. Just when I thought I’d heard all I ever wanted to hear about copyright, I learned otherwise thanks to Roberta Shaffer’s (Covington & Burling) excellent presentation.

But when it comes to programs, as usual, I was grateful that audiotapes where available for many of the programs that I missed due to exhibit hall prowling and conflicts with other programs.

SLA – Presentation by Bill Gates.

For a complete listing of available audio and video cassettes or to place an order call National Audio Video at 800-373-2952 or 303-292-2952

SLA 1997 Search Engine Overview

Information Today’s SLA Coverage

Gates Keynotes Upbeat SLA Conference in Seattle ,

A Net’s Eye View of the SLA Conference,

Trying to get into parties that I hadn’t been invited to brought back memories of my very first AALL convention. I managed to get into Planet Hollywood (sponsored by Knight-Ridder) and, thanks to the kindness of an accounting librarian (you know who you are), I even made it to the Dun & Bradstreet party featuring the Drifters. (Stand By Me, Under the Boardwalk, etc.)

The large banquets that characterize AALL were optional at SLA. After all, it’s probably not practical to try to fit 6,000 people into even a large banquet hall. Between you and me, I didn’t really miss having dinner with thousands of people. I spent almost every night having a great meal in a small group setting. For those who didn’t know anyone, or wanted to meet new people, the Legal Division sponsored a “Dutch Treat Dinner.”

SLA Exhibitor Listing
The exhibit hall was huge, and by the way, sold out. When browsing the exhibit hall, there was no question about the trend away from CD-ROM and towards the Web. While I expected this trend, even I was surprised at how fast publishers are migrating their products to the Web. If I were you, I wouldn’t spend much money on CD-ROM towers this year!

In my wanderings of the exhibit hall, I concentrated on collecting information on cataloging software, and all the major players were there, EOS, Sydney, Ameritech and Sirsi, just to name a few. Several of the vendors were displaying their web-based online public access catalogs, and include the capability to hop directly to the web, internal CD-ROM, and audio or graphics files. Trust me, these aren’t your mother’s OPACs.

All in all, Seattle was delightful and the conference was inspiring. You couldn’t ask for much more than that!

Did you attend SLA this year? If you have any experiences, opinions or information you’d like to share with our readers, send us an email!

Reader’s Comments

Cindy —

Enjoyed your comments about SLA and the Legal Division offerings this year! As someone who attended SLA conferences for many years before going off to law school and then practising before going back into the field as a law librarian (a hiatus of 11 years), I’ve always found SLA conferences to be businesslike and informative with a lot of programs applicable to what I was facing in my own situation. I must admit, I was somewhat taken aback when I discovered that AALL conferences had far fewer programs that I found useful in the private law firm setting.

I rejoined SLA and its relatively new Legal Division almost three years ago (at the same time I joined AALL). At this year’s conference, I was quite impressed with the number of programs being offered by the Legal Division and noted with great interest the increase in members (about 800 now). Although I would have gone to SLA regardless (Seattle’s my hometown!), I appreciated the number of relevant and useful programs I found there this year. The discussions about the “virtual law library” and some of the problems found there (cf. the program on international law Web sites) reminded us that, while there is a trend to the Web that we all need to be prepared for, there are some real drawbacks that may slow things down. And Cindy’s cautionary note about CD-ROM towers is quite well-taken!

Other non-Legal Division-sponsored programs were also quite useful. For example, the Senior Managers’ Roundtable was quite helpful with its emphasis on how to manage change on a number of levels and I was pleasantly surprised to see Carol Ginsburg, now the head of the library at Bankers’ Trust, someone whom I knew quite well from my corporate librarian days! In spite of all the changes over the years, it is interesting to see the number of people who have remained in the field and who are now in positions of influence, both in the corporate and legal spheres.

A number of law librarians who attended SLA will not be at AALL. I’m not sure what that portends, but I’m sure AALL must be viewing the increased membership in SLA’s Legal Division with some concern. If this year’s SLA conference attendance is any indication, I think that concern is quite justified because I do not see similar offerings for private law firm librarians at this year’s AALL conference and, if that trend continues, I wonder whether those librarians will continue to see AALL as a viable alternative. I’d like to explore this further. If anyone wants to discuss this in Baltimore, I’ll be there beginning Saturday, July 19, staying at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor Hotel or you can call me before then at the office, (212) 382-6744.

In any event, I commend the Legal Division for what it has accomplished in a relatively short time and for putting on a series of very useful programs. I agree with Cindy that the conference was inspiring and hope to make it to the 1998 conference in Indianapolis!

Betsy Klampert
Director of Library Services
Association of the Bar of the City of New York
[email protected] OR [email protected]

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 10:26:19 -0700
From: Barbara Silbersack [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: LLRX’s SLA article

I was really excited to see that the SLA conference had made LLRX news! Thanks for including it on your site. I was there, of course, and, from what I was hearing, it was very well received by many many people. I was so happy to hear so many positive comments from colleagues. I am really looking forward to next year because I am sure the division will continue to grow and to build on its successes. I always said this was a great site. Barbara Silbersack

Posted in: Extras, Special Libraries Association