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SLA Day 2: Sunshine and Networking!

June 10, 2013
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Thing that has been happening to me since the conference started: No matter which bag I use, I cannot manage to grab the pocket sized conference planner or my business cards out of said bag in a timely manner. This is true of both the larger laptop bag and my purse. I swear both things disappear into pockets and into corners. I don’t even know.

Yesterday, I deliberately took it easier, because I had nothing on the schedule til almost noon. Of course, I still woke up at jet lag o’clock, but it was nice to take the morning at a much more leisurely pace. As I emerged from my room, I met the lady leaving her room, next to mine, who also turned out to be in town for SLA. (I swear, there is not a secret handshake!) Susie had intel from the concierge about a good spot for breakfast, the Broken Yolk, which turned out to be an excellent diner- vinyl booths, and lots of breakfast options, including a superlative breakfast burrito. Leisurely giant breakfast and chatter ensued. Susie works in Brighton, England (I thought I had jet lag?) having moved there 20 years ago– grew up in the Midwest.

Adding to my list of questions for acquaintances: “Could a person live where you live without a car, or without driving?” Because that’s important to my future plans. Maybe someday, I’ll learn to drive. Someday.

Fortified by a nice conversation and the aforementioned wonderful breakfast burrito, we headed to the conference with plenty of time to kill. I felt very pleased with myself greeting conference buddies from previous days. I headed to a panel about job searching, which covers lots of solid basics about resumes, things I mostly knew– but is super useful because it introduces me to TRAK, a recruiter who does library sorts of jobs, and has an office in New York. Glad I lugged my laptop along, because was able to send my resume over immediately. No promises from them, but still worth a shot.

I then proceeded to poke my head into three different panels that caught my eye: Librarian As Information Analyst is packed to overflowing, and the room for the panel on taxonomy projects appears to be showing slides for a different panel entirely, some committee or other.The presenter for the Special Libraries Are Public Libraries panel could have been interesting but I was hesitant to sit in because it wasn’t very crowded, and I knew I’d have to zoom out early, as I’d signed up to go on a historic Gaslamp Tour starting a few blocks away right around the time the panel ended. Also, the sun had just come out, for the first time since I got here.

The tour, walking around the historic district in the sun, was delightful. Meandering with a group of librarians, I was mentally juggling trying to grasp the nuggets of history and dates the tour guide told us, and also trying to orient myself geographically (not my strongest skill.) I kind of wanted to take notes on the historical tidbits he was dropping- quirky details that are exactly my favorite thing. Some things I have learned:

  • Many tour stops are former and/or current bars, or former brothels.
  • San Diego’s first zoo was, you guessed it, a bar, where the owner had 2 bears chained in a cage as an attraction. “Come see the bears! And drink!” turned out to be the bad marketing strategy you expect when one customer put his nose too close to the cage, got it bitten clean off. The wounded party took the bar owner to court. Judge said: “you are BOTH idiots!” and ordered the bears out of the bar. Bar owner replaced bears as an attraction with spiders. Which were then taken out in a fit of cleaning by bar owner’s assistant.
  • A brothel was also the genesis of the term “Lost your marbles,” as a madam would parade her girls wearing different colors, and men would choose their lady with different colored marbles.
  • Pharmacies also abounded (possibly to address concerns raised by the proliferation of the abovementioned bars and brothels. Gregory Peck declined to join his pharmacist father in the family business, but did say things like “I made the money to start my acting career by peddling drugs in San Diego.”
  • Surprised to learn how many buildings were shipped out, already constructed, and then assembled as prefab houses in the 180o’s.
  • Also, Gas Lamps a relatively recent addition to the Gas Lamp district. There are four of them. And during the 1800s, when they were the going technology, the district was known as Stingaree, and was a red light district. Gas Lamps added, and district renamed in 1970’s.
  • How Spanish conquerors named places they settled: Picked the name of the saint whose day fell nearest the day they landed.
  • Brothels again: Raids led to the arrest of several ladies, with orders to face jail time or buy tickets on the next train out of town. The lasses bought round trip. One lady stayed on and went legit as the town’s first telephone operator. (Or was it telegraph? I didn’t hear right.)
  • Tour culminated at William Heath Davis house, so I got to poke around an old house with 19th century furnishings, including a cunning pre-electric crock pot (picture to come) and a still. Yes, a still.

Refreshed by a sunny and historic walk, I meandered through exhibit hall reception. It gave me BEA deja vu, I think they get their exhibit frames and signage from the same company. making a dinner on the fly out of free quesadillas and veggies, before heading to the SLA NY Happy Hour. On the one hand, I was trying to make a point to network with a handful of people I want to follow up with in NYC. On the other hand, networking in a crowded bar is less than ideal. Possibly best just to swap cards, and follow up when we’re all back and recovered from jet lag. I saw some SLA NY chapter familiar faces, including Harry from Baruch, who is very much on my list of People To Network With, also a librarian from Conde Nast, who I impressed with a Ledger connection.

Still feeling sprightly after a lovely networking evening, and more free food, I convince myself to check out the karaoke night back at the hotel. This turns out to be less than A+ planning. Nice enough crowd to mingle in, though the room is so dark that you can’t see who’s singing in particular. The room was giant, also, more feeling like a high school dance setting than what I’m used to thinking of when I think karaoke and librarians. So, although it was nice to see familiar faces and meet a few new ones, I felt kind of awkward, and a little homesick for my Pratt student buddies, who are excellent fun as karaoke companions in a local spot that is tiny and better lit. Because I felt homesick and awkward, myself, I wound up staying up too late, as an attempt to banish the feeling. Not, as I said, A+ ideas. Especially since the next morning begins bright and early at the Food, Agriculture and Nutrition breakfast meeting, to which I have been invited by very nice committee members.

Eh, I am young, strong, and have caffeine in ready supply. And Day 3 has been a sunny and informative day so far, with not much on the docket in the late evening. So maybe early to bed? (Fond hope)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 12, 2013 6:05 pm

    I cannot laugh but think of San Diego more or less starting off as a place for brothels and whorehouses for displaced men and their quest for saloon sex workers back in the day. I am glad you had a great time at SLA.

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