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And That’s All She Wrote

Thanks for reading the Live from Nashville blog. We’ve enjoyed sharing our experiences of and thoughts about the Special Libraries Association 95th annual conference with you.

We look forward to future event blogging and we’ll let you know what our next target conferences are.

Signing off from Live from Nashville,

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Wrap Up Notes from bq

An e-mail from Barbara Quint, who’s been contributing to this blog from her home base in California, asked some salient questions that I pose to the readers of this blog.

What more do we need from the "Live from Nashville" bloggers?

My comment: Please, if you exhibited at SLA, don’t respond to bq’s question with a plea for more coverage of your company. There were fewer than 5 bloggers at SLA trying to cover exhibits, sessions, and business meetings. I’m the first to admit we didn’t get to everything. This blog existed to "hit the highlights" and reflect the overall spirit of the conference, not to be a comprehensive report.

But do tell us if you think we skipped something important to you in your worklife!

How about a list of sessions that deserve an audio tape purchase?

My comment: I may have misled people here. Although the sessions were recorded on audio tape, the final product is an audio CD which will be shipped in 6 weeks. Some of the sessions listed for sale did not get taped. Irony here: the session on disappearing data thanks to the U.S. federal government was supposed to be available, but there were technical difficulties and you can’t buy that one.

How about a list of exhibit hall booth people with email addressses?

My comment: Great idea!

How about a sincere — if sometime anonymous — collective opinion on how the next SLA conference should compare with other conferences people attend?

My comment: Yeah, let us know!

And suggestions from readers about future blogs — features, focus, target conferences.

My comment: Yeah, let us know!

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE; The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Thinking Back on Exhibits

Think what you will about the "biosphere," the "controlled environment" (thanks, Cindy), the Hotel California (thanks to several of you who I hope did manage to check out), or the artifical Disneyland environment, the exhibit hall was a physical delight. Actual aisles! All the booths logically laid out! It was an immense improvement from last year in New York. With the meeting rooms in reasonable proximity from the exhibits (yeah, I know you’re saying, what does she mean by reasonable when I had to hike from a Delta Island room over to Jackson or Washington, but it was still under one climate-controlled roof and you never knew about the outside humidity and, yes, there was a great deal of outside humidity), it was also a vast improvement over Los Angeles the year before New York.

So let me turn my attention to the important stuff: the giveaways. There are two categories of giveaways: the stuff handed out to everybody and the stuff raffled off. Interestingly, the final program listed the latter. There were 15 companies in the "giveways" list, from the American Ceramic Society to Portland Press. Had you been lucky, you could have won a Coach Briefcase (Barnes & Noble), an iPod (Jane’s), or a Legal Seafood Clambake Supreme (New England Journal of Medicine). From touring the exhibit hall, I quickly figured out these weren’t the only raffle opportunities and I’m still wondering how the librarian who got that gift basket with the whisky bottles on to the plane as carryon luggage.

As for the non-raffle items, if this is a leading economic indicator, we’re in for really good times. It wasn’t just a small chocolate candies year. I haven’t seen such expansive giveaways since 1969 — no wait, that was the hotel California theme invading my mind. Seriously, there were clocks, umbrellas, magnets, document holders, frisbees, all kinds of stuff.

What did I win?


I turned in my "homework" to xrefer and to S&P NetAdvantage. The folks at xrefer were nice enough to tell me I got all the answers correct and used the time with me and with a couple of other librarians who were also turning in their homework to do a mini focus group. What did we like and dislike about the interface? Interesting experience as we got into a discussion about what worked and what didn’t.

S&P accepted my homework but didn’t tell me how I did. I still don’t know. What’s my grade, guys? I know I didn’t win anything, but I’d still like to know the answers to the questions…………..

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Another Theme

Talking with some librarians at breakfast today, I realized I’d missed another group of session topics. Taxonomies and ontologies were another topic of great interest. Does all this signify a change in direction for special libraries? Are we moving from research and collection development to describing both our collections and external/internal resources?

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Thursday’s the Day

In accordance with immutable SLA law (just kidding!), Thursday is devoted to tours. Granted, most attendees don’t stick around for the tours. But those who do have a great time. Is it just my imagination, or too much nostalgia, that when I was younger the tours revolved around libraries? Some still do. The Vanderbilt News Archive sounded attractive, as did the one to the Peabody Library. But golf? The Hermitage? The Jack Daniels Distillery? Educational, maybe. Instructive, probably. Library-oriented? Hmmm. Those of you who went, let me know how it related to your jobs. Yeah, I’m talking to you — Leslie, Cindy, Beth, and others.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Looking Back on Sessions

Most attendees at SLA annual conferences end up the meeting exhausted. Not only are there business meetings, networking opportunities (both scheduled and unscheduled), and the exhibit hall, there are the sessions. Lots of sessions. One attendee (Thanks, Judith!) pointed out that SLA set a new record on Tuesday afternoon with 30 competing sessions. That’s a lot to choose from.

Thinking about the themes represented by the sessions, I saw lots of programs centered around resources. Those resources were usually Web sites. New roles for librarians was another popular topic. Archives and electronic record management seemed more strongly represented than in past years.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Exhibit Hall Closed

The last day for exhibits was yesterday. Anyone thinking they’d use the last day of the conference to browse among exhibitor booths is out of luck.

Since most of the exhibitors have gone home, perhaps that’s a contributing factor to the smaller number of attendees at the opening keynote today and the even smaller number at the business meeting.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Location, Location, Location

Some conference participants are complaining about the hotel venue. “But don’t they always?” you cynics may ask. Yes, but one rarely hears people evaluate a location as less friendly than NYC. One participant even boasted of locating her RV in a special lot only a mile from the Opryland hotel. Because of the distance, she got the privilege of a conveying service that would take her to whichever door was closest to her next session room. Apparently the people rooming in and roaming through the hotel itself faced longer journeys, not to mention the danger of losing their bearings traversing the river ride located inside the facility. Another conference attendee referred to the hotel as an “adult Disneyland”. Now in Southern California, that might be a compliment, but this attendee’s remark seemed more pejorative.

Barbara Quint
Editor, Searcher

Preview of Thomson Pharma

Thomson Pharma is a new information offering for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries that is being developed by Thomson Scientific. It will provide a gateway to a portfolio of patent, scientific, and financial information products and services from across the range of Thomson-owned businesses.

Through a single, customizable interface, users will be able to browse and search multiple sources of content relevant to the pharmaceutical industry. The key content will include:
Scientific literature
Commercial and financial information

According to Vincent Caraher, CEO of Thomson Scientific, the company is working with pilot customers now and hopes to launch the new product at the end of 2004 or in early 2005. Thomson Pharma is a good example of Thomson focusing on solutions that integrate all the pieces for customers.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.

News Trakkie

This year I seem to be tracking the News Division.

Their awards banquet at Belle Meade Plantation was lots of fun and I got to
help present one of the awards to Gary Price — a
knowledgeable speaker and great information professional.

Tuesday’s morning’s program, Intranets: Cool Content & Tools — and Getting
the Work Done, with John Maines from the Sun-Sentinel and David Dwiggins from the Nashville
Tennessean was great. Imagine using free software from Microsoft to
create easy to use web interfaces for census data, voter registration
information, as well as Department of Corrections and State Employee
information and more. As John said, "Building web tells that link to
databases is cheaper, easier, faster than just 2 years ago." And he
connects them to his newsroom Intranet for fantastic fast client
access. He actually built an interface on the fly in about three minutes
— click on his name above for the example. Dwiggins talked about the web
front end that use for everything — commercial databases, free
information, reference materials as well as internal archives and
databases. And I love the names of their Intranets — SunSpot & NewsSpot
(with a cute little spotted dog logo!).

The Tuesday night News Division fund-raising auction was as wonderful as it
usually is — lots of people to network with, lots of goodies for me to
take home!! And today, I’m still hoping to take in some of the News
Division programs — Graphics Research: Tips, Tricks & Troubles as well as
Proving Your Value.

Jane Dysart, Dysart & Jones Associates