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SLA Day 1: Jet Lag, Learning and Serendipity

June 9, 2013

Jet lag caught up with me but I’ve been stubborn about all the things I want to do in a packed day. Timing was not my friend yesterday, though serendipity made it up to me in the later half. But, I am enjoying myself, tremendously, meeting wonderful new people, and feeling that as much as I learn, there’s so much more I need to learn.

Sort of keeping a running tally of different kinds of libraries people have mentioned. Here’s a sampling:  Exxon, Weill Cornell Medical in Qatar (she’s from Scotland!), a global health nonprofit in Seattle, many academic librarians in various subject specialties, chief librarian @ public safety Canada, a vocabulary editor at a software company (I need to remind myself what vocabulary editors do) A librarian from the FBI who works as an analyst, using a library science background, a librarian who specializes in baseball, . Based on people I’m meeting, business and pharma libraries are places to watch. Also, I’m hearing a lot about cataloging jobs. And people keep being surprised that I’m not jumping in to declare myself as specializing in one particular library. I don’t know whether that helps or hurts my job search.

Despite waking up early, had to rush through breakfast yesterday and bolt to the convention center to get registered— I could have sworn my first session of the day started at 9, not 8. Oops!

Morning’s session was The Accidental Systems Librarian

I signed up for the session because I frankly didn’t know what a systems librarian was. Although I was the only student in the session, and there were people who worked as systems librarians, the session was well paced to be a good introduction.

Simply put: a systems librarian is someone who blends, or acts as a liaison between traditional librarian knowledge bases and IT/tech knowledge bases. Elements of web content, databases, programming, even some hardware skills (though that could be as simple as replacing a printer cartridge.) Training others is a HUGE part of the job, whether training them to use a new technology or to research better. Will add more notes later.

I didn’t have lunch plans, so I had a great idea: introduce myself to a bunch of people and repair to Tin Fish for tacos. Curse of timing dogged me however, in that I rallied a nice group of 5 total strangers, but realized that I couldn’t get fed and back to convention center for the 1pm seminar I had signed up for. So I sent them off to eat their fish tacos, after handing out business cards as a memento of me. Call it a mitzvah.

Scarfed down a cobbled-together lunch of yogurt, fruit and coffee, and found my way back to the conference room I was in for the second workshop of my day.It’s very easy to get lost in the convention center.

I wish I’d been more fully on West Coast time during the afternoon session, Social Media for Information Professionals, because it was dense with a lot of information, and the presenter talked fast, packing in more beyond the slides. Also working against me: familiarity with using social media tools for marketing, rather than as research tools (the latter topic being what the conference covered) so, making sure that I was correctly understanding the new, sifting through from the familiar, took some work. I know there are gaps in my knowledge and my notes from the session as jet lag caught up to me- should have tape recorded it, but this didn’t occur to me til afterward. Of course. Whoops. Well, on the plus side, it’s another opportunity to reach out to my fellow librarians, swap cards, and trade notes so I can make sure to regroup what I missed.

Mercifully, I had time for a short break before the Newcomers Happy Hour meetup, which was more networking, meeting, talking. “Where are you from? What do you do? What should I do?” Great conversations… all of which led to getting to have dinner with the Taxonomy Division at a yummy Afghan restaurant called Chopahn. Great, welcoming, informative bunch, talking about categorization and taxonomy– a broader category than I’d understood it to be, really, different libraries they’ve worked at, job trajectories, systems used.  Places they’d lived. And books, lots of books. Also, laughter, with a very nice bunch of people. Between the Newcomers Networking and then the dinner, I’m left feeling that I want to do at least 20 internships in as many different cities. Deep breath, stay focused, and get myself finding one internship close to home. Though, who knows, maybe involving taxonomy.

Still can’t tell whether my interest in cataloging and taxonomy is aspirational or based on any real knowledge of my own aptitude. I like working with systems that are nicely organized, I like working with routinized steps and tasks… looking at my own desk, however, or bookshelves, a more, ahem, intuitive and freewheeling default overrides anything outwardly meticulous. (Constant battle with messy desk tendencies.) Don’t know what to make of this.

No, I have no idea how I managed to stay awake enough to decide to go to the trivia event at the end of the day. But I’m very glad I did. Because it was fun, with good questions to debate, and turned out to lead to a conversation that went from talking about microbrewed beer, to discovering that there’s a division  of the Special Libraries Association that focuses on Food, Nutrition and Agriculture- and that’s the division for places like the corporate library for Heinz, and for Nestle, and for the Culinary Institute of America. And they’re very, very very nice, and eager to welcome new members, so I’ll go to one of their events to learn more. The trivia itself ran from general-ish knowledge (including “Name 4 of Harry Potter’s horcruxes!” and “What was the first movie to feature a toilet flushing?” to SLA-centric librarian trivia. LONG night. But I think worth the sleep deprivation- I threw my lot in with a team of mostly East Coast folks, including someone who works with a “sex positive educational collection” and Leslie Reynolds, who is running for SLA board office, and turned out to BE the answer of one of the SLA trivia questions.

Feeling like I’m ahead of the game in sheer volume of networking I’ve managed to accomplish, and learning many things I hadn’t known, or in some cases, hadn’t even known I needed to know. So I’m very very pleased. And, as of this morning, at least nominally well rested. My day isn’t busy til after 11 AM so I’m going to take the rest of the morning slow. I didn’t sleep as late as I wanted, but it was nice not barreling out of bed.

Today’s agenda: seek breakfast, then go to a job hunting advice panel, and then choose between, based on how crowded they are: How E-Books Affect Special Libraries, a resume workshop, the intriguingly titled “Public Libraries are Special Libraries Too”

After that, I’m signed up for a Historic Gaslamp tour starting at 3pm. This may or may not happen, as it’s scheduled for about when I lost steam yesterday.

And my day concludes at the SLA Happy Hour that the New York chapter is sponsoring, for which I have a large list of names of people I “absolutely need to talk to” so I’m going to make sure and make that happen.

And if I’m in bed by 10 PM, I’m going to call it a pretty perfect day.


One Comment leave one →
  1. DonaldPeebles permalink
    June 12, 2013 5:53 pm

    I had NO clue the Special Libraries had it like that. Wow! Who knew!

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