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SLA Toronto Student-To-Conference Award Winner Post-Conference Report

This past June, I had the good fortune to attend the SLA conference in Vancouver as the recipient of the SLA Toronto Student-to-Conference award. As a new graduate with a prior career in publishing, I had attended many international book fairs but never an international library conference. I was looking forward to opportunities for professional development and networking, and was not disappointed.

The Vancouver Convention Centre overlooks beautiful Burrard Inlet and is a short walk from Gastown, Stanley Park, and the city’s beaches. During the opening general session on Sunday morning, Shane Pointe, an elder from the Musqueam First Nation, spoke. The Musqueam were among the first inhabitants of the area, and he offered a special welcome, rather generously likening librarians to medicine people, as keepers of information.

As a new information professional, I was particularly interested in the career-related sessions. There was plenty of great advice to be found at ‘Fellows and Rising Stars,’ the ‘Big Data and Job Opportunities Panel,’ and ‘Intelligence Roles for Information Professionals.’

KM from the Trenches,’ with Toronto’s own Ulla de Stricker and Connie Crosby, featured tons of insight into project management, client expectations, organizational culture, matching user requirements to appropriate technologies (look for people’s workarounds!), and the importance of human oversight in Knowledge Management. ‘Government Information Access in the US and Canada: Implications for Librarians’ stressed the importance of open data initiatives, and information policy, in preserving access to government documents and websites.

One of the most memorable sessions was ‘Social Media for Investigative Professionals or How to Find People Who Don’t Want to Be Found.’ The speaker, Julie Clegg, is an ex-police detective who now does investigative work for a private firm. Her demonstration of online intelligence tools to an overflowing room was terrifying and fascinating. Outside of their applications in fighting crime, I could see many of these resources being useful for prospect research and competitive intelligence.

What I took away from many of the sessions were suggested resources to explore later. From ‘Data Visualization,’ I made note of a book called Show Me the Numbers. From the packed session ‘60 Sites in 60 Minutes,’ I gathered a long list of new bookmarks.

The Info Expo was closest to my experience of publishing trade fairs and in hindsight, I didn’t take as full advantage of it as I could have. For future conferences, I would allocate more time to exploring new products and services, and speaking to vendors.

Some of the most enjoyable moments of the conference came from meeting and chatting with others while waiting for sessions to begin. These impromptu talks with former strangers yielded valuable tips and great conversation. Other social events, like the Canadian reception, and the CI Division Dinner, provided time to meet and better get to know other SLA members who attended. The conference being in Vancouver meant that I had the opportunity to meet with my west coast law office colleagues. The ‘Fellows and First-Timers’ get-together on the Saturday evening was full of friendly faces with lots of tips on taking full advantage of the conference. I met board members who were generous with their advice, and other recent graduates, eager to make new connections and talk about what they do.

It was impossible to attend all of the sessions that caught my eye but fortunately, many attendees have blogged and tweeted about what they saw, heard, and learned. I’m very grateful to SLA Toronto for the opportunity to attend, and I look forward to making it to the conference in Boston next year.

—Catherine MacGregor
Catherine graduated this spring from the University of Toronto’s iSchool where she served as co-chair of the student SLA group. She is currently working as a law librarian at Fasken Martineau and is taking over as SLA Toronto’s New Information Professional Programming Coordinator.

Posted in The Courier, V51-N4-Summer 2014, Volume 51Comments (0)

SLA Toronto Student-To-Conference Award Winner Statement

SLA Toronto is proud to announce the winner of the 2014 SLA Toronto Student-to-Conference Award, Catherine MacGregor. Catherine will receive a $1,500 grant to attend the SLA Annual Conference in Vancouver from June 8-10th, 2014.

This annual event is an exemplary opportunity to learn, connect, and cultivate one’s career in the information profession. “The SLA Toronto Chapter is thrilled to offer the student-to-conference award to a deserving student who exemplifies the future of the special libraries profession. The Annual SLA Conference offers a unique and valuable opportunity for professional development and networking for talented future leaders,” says Erin McDonald, 2014 SLA Toronto Chapter President.

Catherine is a Master of Information candidate from the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto. She is also currently serving as Co-Chair of the SLA Toronto Student Group (SLA-TSG) at the iSchool.


Statement by Catherine MacGregor:

Dear Awards Committee Members,

I will be graduating this spring with a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto. I decided quite early on in the course of my degree that special librarianship would be my focus. To my mind, special libraries offer the greatest diversity of opportunities and provide exciting challenges that come from serving the information needs of professional communities. The Special Libraries Association has been a source of inspiration, guidance, and learning for me during the formal part of my education.

I joined SLA last year after attending SLA student and SLA Toronto events. I am currently a student member and have been co-chairing the SLA Toronto Student Group in 2013/14. It has been my good fortune to meet and collaborate with a great number of SLA members over the last 18 months, who have been generous with their time and advice.

My coursework has included some aspects of special librarianship, and I’ve completed two practicums, one at a hospital library, and one at a law firm library, where I’ve gained insight into the day-to-day functioning of certain types of special libraries. But I know that there is much more to learn! Attending the SLA Annual Conference would both round out my education and allow me to connect with future colleagues.

I am eager to learn more about the different industries and organizations that employ information professionals, while I’m in the early stages of what I hope will be a long career in special libraries. The SLA Annual Conference would provide me with exposure to valuable learning and networking opportunities. As a new professional, in a field that is constantly evolving, I would gain access to perspectives on different aspects of librarianship, on current and emerging technologies, and on topics that I have never been exposed to.

I’ve had a look at the conference schedule and there are a rich variety of programming and professional development opportunities available. Educational sessions that would interest me include: Data Visualization; Disruption, Alignment and Embedded Librarianship; Intelligence Roles for Information Professionals; Government Information Access in the US and Canada: Implications for Librarians; and of course the career workshops and networking opportunities. The conversations, and chances to connect with information professionals from across Canada and around the world, would be invaluable.

I am keen to continue my involvement in SLA through the Toronto chapter and would welcome the opportunity to serve on the Executive or Advisory Board in 2015. This would also be a chance to give back to a professional association that I’ve found to be vibrant and supportive.

Thank you for your consideration.


—Catherine MacGregor

Posted in The Courier, V51-N3-Spring 2014, Volume 51Comments (0)

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 Toronto Student-to-Conference Award Winner Statement

SLA Toronto Chapter is pleased to announce that Caroline Chung is the winner of the 2013 SLA Toronto Student-to Conference Award. This award provides the winning students with a $1,500 stipend for travel to and participation in the 2013 SLA Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO in San Diego, June 9-11.

Caroline was selected by the Executive Board of SLA Toronto on the basis of her résumé and the quality of her statement on what she expected to gain from the conference experience.

Caroline finished her last semester of the Master of Library & Information Science at Western University in April 2013. During this semester, she was Secretary of the UWO SLA Student Chapter. Previously, she completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and Book & Media Studies at Trinity College, University of Toronto.

Statement by Caroline Chung

I am currently in my final semester of the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at Western University (UWO). When I entered the program in September of 2011, I was focused on working in the traditional settings of either the public or academic library. These were the library careers I was familiar with, and they were also the careers that a lot of courses within the program emphasized. However, after successfully applying for a co-op placement with the Knowledge Management (KM) team at PwC Canada in Toronto, my choice of career path was re-directed. I really enjoyed the placement, and realized that this was the type of environment I would prefer to work in. Knowing that other members of the KM team at PwC were involved with SLA, I joined the UWO SLA student group as secretary upon returning to London in January.

My interest in attending the 2013 SLA Conference therefore stems from my desire to learn more about the multifaceted area of special librarianship — this conference would be an incredible eye-opener! Having entered the MLIS program directly from my undergraduate degree, there are many aspects of this dynamic field that my classes have not covered in depth, and that I have not yet had the chance to explore on my own. I believe the conference would greatly increase my awareness and understanding of issues, challenges, and developments in the field. I can already see that there are a number of sessions that would be very useful, including “Content and Interfaces: What’s New?,” “eBooks and How They Affect Special Libraries,” “Big Data, Big Challenges,” and “Leadership Roles in KM: Grabbing New Opportunities.” Attending the conference sessions would also provide exposure to many topics that I am not yet aware of. Essentially, this would be my first professional conference experience, and it would be an amazing first step in my professional development and education.

I would also like to attend this conference for the networking opportunities. I have learnt a lot through the connections I was fortunate to make while on my co-op placement, and even through the UWO SLA student members that I have met during this semester. There are many professionals and established practitioners in the field that I could learn even more from, especially at a conference such as this. Listening to and meeting with professionals from beyond Canada would also be a great learning opportunity.

Aside from attending the conference itself, I would appreciate the award for the position with either the Executive or Advisory Boards of the “dynamic and active” SLA Toronto chapter. I would really like to learn more about the work the SLA Toronto chapter does, and become more involved. As a soon-to-be graduate, I believe it is very important to be involved with professional organizations, and it would be very encouraging to receive this award and a board position.

— Caroline Chung

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

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