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SLA Toronto Student-to-Conference Winner Report

My hopes had been high for sunshine and blue skies, but my first experience of San Diego weather was the complete opposite. The “SLA Fellows and First-Timers Meet,” which took place on a lovely terrace overlooking the water at the Marriott Hotel, was fraught with cold winds and cloudy grey skies—not quite what we had all packed for! Regardless of this letdown by the weather, the well-attended event was a great way to meet other attendees, and a memorable start to my first SLA Conference!

The following morning, I attended the Sunday General Session and Awards Presentation. I found it interesting to hear about the accomplishments and career paths of the award winners, since I am in the early stages of my own career. Mike Walsh, the dynamic keynote speaker, also gave an excellent presentation entitled “Futuretainment: Why it’s about time we re-imagined the way we did business.” He discussed what the future has in store, the crucial questions we should be asking ourselves as we move forward, and the importance of looking for new opportunities in virtually every situation.

Attending this opening presentation was an obvious choice for my first conference, but I found it challenging to decide which sessions to attend next. Scheduled in each time slot were many diverse topics I wanted to learn about and speakers I wanted to hear from. I therefore found myself, like many others, starting in one session and surreptitiously exiting to catch part of another.

Although I do not have an economics background, I chose to attend “The Global Economic Outlook.” It was presented by Leo Abruzzese from The Economist Intelligence Unit, and I was really interested to hear what someone within The Economist Group would have to say. I was impressed by his ability to explain the current economic climate in an intellectual yet concise and understandable way. The room was full at the beginning, and remained so until the end.

I had heard from a number of attendees that Mary Ellen Bates could not be missed, so I made sure to be up for her early Monday morning session, “Joyful Negotiating.” I really liked her positive outlook on negotiating: we should always aim for the ideal outcome where “everybody wins.” In her opinion, the focus should be on achieving the results that both parties need, and ensuring that both come out satisfied.

I caught part of the very popular session “60 Sites in 60 Seconds,” which was an eclectic series of creative websites ranging from etymology and politics to passive aggressive notes and cook book organizers. They were presented in quick succession, and a few I noted for future visits included Conference Bites, WorkFlowy, Paperless Post, SnapFashion, and Skillcrush.

Another session I attended was “Ninja Skills for Librarians,” since I had never previously considered the parallels between ninjas and librarians! Skills they mentioned included the use of stealth (looking to those behind-the-scenes who can help you), targeting (getting to know the client well), and adaptability (blending into the ever-changing environment). The importance of failure was also noted as a key part of the feedback, learning, and improvement process.

I attended many other sessions including “Implementing Open Source” presented by Nicole Engard from ByWater Solutions, “Organizing Knowledge” by Patrick Lambe from Straits Knowledge, and “Corporate Libraries” by Joe Matthews from JRM Consulting Inc. I also made sure to wander through the INFO-EXPO on multiple occasions, and sat in on the Bloomberg Law exhibitor theatre presentation. Beyond attending sessions, I also took advantage of the numerous networking events. I particularly enjoyed the Canadian Reception, since it was a great opportunity to meet fellow Canadian professionals from Toronto and across the country. I also enjoyed the well-attended First Five Years Meetup, since it brought together fellow students and early-career professionals at an informal venue, and the Competitive Intelligence Division Open House, where they held an entertaining Pecha Kucha tournament.

On my last afternoon, I made my way to Coronado Island, which is only a short ferry ride across the water from the convention centre. The weather had fortunately improved over the course of the conference, and I had to take the opportunity to walk along the beach and put my feet in the ocean! The island itself was lovely to walk through too, and a highlight was visiting the famous Hotel del Coronado.

Overall, the San Diego Conference was a fantastic learning experience, and I am very grateful to the SLA Toronto Chapter for having granted me the award to attend. I met many new people (from across Canada, the US, and even the UK), learnt a lot, and gained so much from simply being there. I hope to attend more SLA Conferences in the future!

— Caroline Chung
2013 SLA Toronto Student-to-Conference Award Winner

Posted in The Courier, V50-N4-Summer 2013Comments (0)

SLA 2013 Post-Conference Wrap-Up

The SLA Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO was held this year in San Diego, California. Despite the “June gloom” we came to know first hand all too well, the conference provided plenty of opportunities to be active professionally—networking with vendors and colleagues—and even squeeze in a bit of fun.

SLA 2013

The general session kicked-off the conference with keynote speaker Mike Walsh, a futurist on digital technologies. In engaging edutainment fashion, Walsh provided an overview of the impact of big data today and its potential to further disrupt the information sector. Using fresh examples from around the world, Walsh posits that data is quickly becoming “the most valuable asset” and smart organizations will “use data to re-invent customer experiences, automate engagement, and achieve better results.” He concluded the talk by challenging the attendees to build a “virtual data war room” by using a whiteboard to map out the relevant data in our respective lines of work—taking into consideration internal sources, unstructured public information and premium databases—and then imagine what an ideal data dashboard would look like from the perspective of our organizations’ top management. An interesting session at SLA 2014 would be to showcase some of the dashboards attendees have come up with over the coming year.

SLA 2013  t-shirt and badge

On the second day of the conference, my colleagues Chris Kim, Helen Kula, and I presented at the annual business and networking breakfast meeting of the Business and Finance Division’s College & University Business Libraries Section (CUBL). In keeping with this year’s theme of “Strategic Partnerships in Academic Business Librarianship—Making Connections That Make Sense,” we presented on engaging the entrepreneurial community through our strategic cross-appointments between an academic library (Gerstein Science Information Centre at the University of Toronto Libraries) and the MaRS Discovery District (Canada’s largest innovation centre). Another panelist, Amy Jansen from Sacred Heart University Library in Connecticut, reported on partnering with the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) as part of their national network of Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRC). And finally, Tim Gallati discussed joint efforts of two large University of California system libraries in partnership with Qualcomm’s corporate library. The session was moderated by the CUBL Chair, Carissa Phillips and slides from each presentation are available on the CUBL website.

Other highlights from the conference included Eric Topol’s talk on how personalized medicine and consumer digital health is disrupting health care. This session was presented as part of a luncheon hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel, sponsored by AAAS/Science as part of their annual customer appreciation event, and included very nice swag beach towels—a good reason to opt-in at registration to be contacted by the conference vendors.

SLA 2013 - podium speaker

A particularly informative session was “Brave New World: Molecular Diagnostics,” presented by the Pharmaceutical & Health Technology Division’s Medical Devices & Diagnostics Section. This session brought together a range of industry experts to discuss next generation sequencing, companion diagnostics, genetic counseling, as well as emerging trends such as increasing importance and demand for expertise around health economic assessment. Slides from this session and many others are available online from the SLA.

One of my favourite sessions included the Biomedical and Life Sciences Division Contributed Papers where the panel presented highly impressive and inspiring work that addressed timely topics such as a primer on altmetrics by Linda Galloway and Janet Pease of Syracuse University, and a case study involving the use of vendor scorecards at a corporate library by Dawn Lynn and Jennifer Kooy of Abbott Labs. Other panelists presented on successful approaches to addressing timeless topics; Jennifer Martin and Marion Slack from the University of Arizona spoke about the use of focus groups to assess information literacy skills of first year pharmacy students, and Teneya Koonce of Vanderbilt University Medical Center presented on the use of personalized education delivery to improve community clinic patients’ knowledge of hypertension. Slides from this session are also available online.

SLA 2013 food

This year, for the first time I had the pleasure of adding a few vacation days on to the conference trip and enjoy the host city. I took advantage of the Highlights of San Diego tour organized by the local SLA chapter, walked the longest pier in North America at nearby Ocean Beach, visited the world famous San Diego Zoo, and stole away to snack on octopus and fish tacos in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, next to the San Diego Convention Center, every chance I could get.

Many thanks to the SLA staff, conference organizers, sponsors, and a great community of information professionals for making this and future events a great success.

— Hyun-Duck Chung, MISt
Librarian and Market Intelligence Information Specialist at Gerstein Science Information Centre, University of Toronto Libraries MaRS Discovery Distrct
hyunduck (dot) chung (at) utoronto (dot) ca

Posted in The Courier, V50-N4-Summer 2013Comments (0)

Organizing a Labour Union

At the SLA Conference & INFO-EXPO in San Diego this year, Steve Bolinger, a Los Angeles lawyer and labour advocate, explained how he started a new labour union—specifically, organizing the security guards at Disneyland.

In 1985, the guards were represented by the American Federation of Guards (AFG) and the first step in starting a new union was to vote to de-certify the current union so a new one with a new contract could be installed.

Bolinger noted that not being intimidated is the most important aspect of the labour organization process in any work setting. His group of guards included a Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient among other military veterans, former police officers, former professional and college athletes, and teachers. This group was not easily intimidated.

The vote to de-certify representation by the AFG passed, leading to the next step of installing a new union. Within three days of the vote, they were sued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) saying that they did not include the firefighters, as before. Upon close reading of the previous contract, it turned out that the firefighters had been erroneously grouped with the security guards all along. So, the new union went forward. All organizing had to take place on break time. The vote to de-certify passed by 98%.

Several challenges with management took place. Bolinger said that they tried to fire him for almost nine years, but he was committed to the success of the new union and continued to work there for 17 years, throughout law school and afterward until 1993. He always kept a copy of their contract in his pocket. At a meeting with management, he felt, “they can’t shoot us or eat us. So, what are we worried about?” The solidarity of the group remained firm.

One confrontation was over cancelling holiday vacations if extra security was needed. A clause was included in the contract that if holiday leave was cancelled and the person had put a deposit down on a vacation stay, the company would reimburse them for the deposit. In one instance, a security guard who was also an electrical engineer had put down a $5000 deposit on a trip to the South Pole. Management decided he should not cancel the trip.

The new union also represented “casuals” (i.e. temporary workers for peak seasons). They challenged the NLRB and won meaning casual workers were not required to reapply when they returned after an absence.

Bolinger presented one example of when he thought he would be in real trouble for forgetting his jacket. He was called on short notice to drive the President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). He was astounded that there was no traffic and was able to get to LAX a hour and a half early so the President could take an earlier flight to meet family. Just as Bolinger returned to be reprimanded for not wearing his jacket, a call came in from the President who said that going forward he only wanted Bolinger to drive him to LAX for all future trips. The reprimand never happened.

The new union has grown and has quadrupled in size to approximately 850 members. Steve Bolinger became a lawyer, practiced law for years, and was a candidate for Superior Judge in Los Angeles with the endorsement of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).

— Larry Guthrie
Chair of the Labor Issues Section, SLA Social Science Division (DSOC)

Posted in The Courier, V50-N4-Summer 2013Comments (0)

SLA Canadian Reception Invitation @ SLA 2013 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO

SLA Canadian Reception Invitation @ SLA 2013 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO

Eureka.cc is pleased to partner once again the organization of the SLA Canadian Reception which is hosted this year by the Eastern Chapter.

Don’t forget to join us on June 10th at Lou & Mickey’s for an all-inclusive evening that will possibly be the best reception of the Conference!

To register follow this link.

For more information on the Eureka.cc solution, visit www.eureka.cc or contact us by email info (dot) canada (at) cedrom-sni (dot) com or by phone at 1-800-563-5665.

SLA Canadian Reception ad

Posted in The Courier, V50-N3-Spring 2013Comments (0)

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