SLA Conference Day Two – report from Bethan Ruddock

Reflections from Bethan Ruddock on the second day of the SLA Annual Conference. Cross-posted on Bethan’s Information Professional Blog.


Greetings from New Orleans! Do forgive any typos – I’m typing this on my phone as I move around the conf centre.

With no time to blog – this conference keeps you busy! I’ve mainly been tweeting. But my session yesterday pm had no wifi, and it was too good not to share, so you get a blog post from me :)

It’s not going to be hugely in-depth, but i’d like to share the main points I picked up.

The session was ‘evolving roles: conversations in the round’, and focussed on how info pros are seeing their roles evolve and change. The panel was Cindy Hill, Karen Huffman, Jessica Baumgart, and the moderator was Julie Domel. There were also a number of notable contributions from the audience.

One of the things that really resonated with me was a comment from Cindy, about her work at Sun. She said ‘I limited myself for years. Bosses told me I was doind great, and asked me ‘what do you want to do’?, and I said ‘I love working with people, information, knowledge, so anything you want to give me to do with that’. What I should have said was ‘anything you think I can do!’ By the time I realised, and did, Sun was on it’s way down, and it was too late.’

I think this is hugely important. Cindy is an extremely capable and talented info pro, yet she didn’t have the confidence to step outside what she felt to be her defined area – despite encouragement. Maybe it wasn’t even a lack of confidence as such – perhaps a feeling that it just wasn’t suitable? Perhaps that shows a collective lack of confidence in the profession.

An interesting corollary to this was Jessica’s description of the roles she took on following a down-sizing at her org. She didn’t limit herselfto things that might be expected to be in the remit of an info pro – she took on anything that needed doing – including running the radio booth! Wonderful practical example of the flexibility of info pros – we can learn to do anything! And the best way to show this? Do it!

Julie pointed out that stepping ouitside your expected roles like this allows you to make connections and build relationships which you otherwise might never encounter. These in turn lead to new opportunities.

One of the things that impressed me greatly about all the speakers was that they are their own catalysts and drivers for change – they act, not react. Its wonderfully inspiring in a time when we’re thinking about how to face the future – we need to take action to shape the future of our roles and profession, not sit around and wait for change to come to us.

A very brief note on conference as a whole so far: amazing! It’s only my 2nd sla conf and I’m hooked. I can see why ppl save up all year and use their holiday time to travel thousands of miles to attend. Don’t ever be put off by the name and think that sla isn’t for you – sla is for everyone! and no, I haven’t had a factini yet – I’m just high on the conference buzz ;) laissez les bons temp roulez!

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