Magazine article Information Today

A Look Back at the 83rd Annual SLA Conference

Magazine article Information Today

A Look Back at the 83rd Annual SLA Conference

Article excerpt

As in years past the annual SLA (Special Libraries Association) Conference, held June 6-11 in San Francisco, enjoyed a large turnout of attendees from the U.S. Canada, and around the world. Included in the group of international visitors were 13 eastern European librarians whom SLA hosted in cooperation with the Congressional Research Service.

The conference included more than 400 sessions, professional development courses, and special events. The opening session offered an excellent keynote by Nancy K. Austin, a business consultant, author, and president of her own company. During Austin's uplifting talk she urged a bold commitment to greater flexibility, responsiveness, and swift innovation. One half-day was devoted exclusively to global information with an opening keynote by Peter Gourevitch, a specialist in international relations and comparative political economy. Sessions following Gourevitch's keynote dealt mainly with information issues concerning the Pacific Rim area. But overall, the conference covered a diverse group of topics which include information management technologies, commercial database online, Electronic Data Interchange, the Internet, LANs and WANs, imaging technology, and management support strategies just to name a few.

The exhibit hall housed approximately 275 companies utilizing more than 400 booths displaying the newest hardware, software, online databases, CD-ROMs and other products and services for information professionals. It seems a shame that more attendees didn't utilize the opportunity to visit the exhibit hall and explore the vast array of wares on display.

As I look back on this year's conference I can't help but make comparisons to the last SLA Conference held in San Antonio, TX. Last year the country was deep in recession and the special library community was being hit hard by cutbacks, layoffs, and in some cases shutdowns. The thing that most impressed me last year was the determination these special librarians had to continue on optimistically and hope for the best. The general consensus at that time was, this can't last forever, everything will be better by next year.

Well, next year is here and things aren't any better. If anything, they are worse. Everyone is aware of the plight our public libraries are facing but the problems of special libraries don't make it to the front page of your hometown newspaper. …

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