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Goodbye Toronto, Hello Baltimore

The 2005 SLA conference in Toronto is essentially over. There are tours today and the new Board has its meetings, but that’s about it.

The keynote speakers for the 2006 conference in Baltimore will be public television’s Gwen Ifill and Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg. Both will definitely be worth hearing!

We’ll see you next year in Baltimore! The dates are June 11-14.

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

SLA Info Booth


Some people still have conference questions.

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

Bye Bye, Exhibit Hall

Tuesday at 5 p.m. marked the end of the Info-Expo, as SLA calls its exhibit hall. Most exhibitors had everything packed up and ready to ship home later that night. The big crates were awaiting the shipping crew to send them back to warehouses until the next "big show."

The only color left was the Click University balloons, but that’s temporary.

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

View from My Window

Between my hotel (the Renaissance) and the CN Tower Paula’s talking about is the Rogers Stadium, where both baseball and football (used in the European sense of the word, so it’s soccer to the North American readers) are played. This work of public art

greeted me in my walks between my room and the conference center. When I looked out my window, I had a side view of the "gentleman" on the right.

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

View From the Top

Before winding up my Toronto stay, I squeezed in a visit to the world famous CN Tower—the world’s tallest building. This imposing and graceful structure was classified in 1995 by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. How could I leave without a visit up top? In less than a minute’s elevator ride, I was whisked to the observation deck. I stood 114 stories up—1,136 feet. I even braved my fear of heights and stood on the glass floor observation deck with a view straight down. Truly magnificent—and what a beautiful city. I’ll be back.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.
www.infotoday.com
phane@infotoday.com


Photos by Don Hawkins (firmly on the ground!)

The Future of Search Engines

Before heading to the airport, I caught as much as I could of this Wed. afternoon session—with Mike Gray of Thomson Legal & Regulatory and Cathy Gordon of Google. Gray first surveyed the current state of the vast Thomson search platform, known as Novus. He stressed the extensive editorial content processing the company does to ensure that searches retrieve “pinpoint results”—categorization, entity resolution, versioning, summarization, link creation and validation, and much more. The company plans to emphasize additional integration capabilities, continue to focus on rich taxonomies and metadata enhancements, and leverage Novus platform enhancements across Thomson product lines.

Gordon, who comes from “our” side of the search world (a librarian who worked many years for both LexisNexis and Dialog), pointed out how similar the SLA and Google mission statements are.
SLA: Connection people and information
Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful

“Google is a switchboard,” she said, “connecting content consumers to content owners.” She feels search is still at a primitive stage—“we’ve only just begun.” She said that users will increasingly demand control (thus calling for a user-centric approach to future development), and the search engines needed to give users the tools to organize and customize their own information. Search will become more sophisticated and personal but must remain simple. The depth, breadth, and types of searchable content will continue to expand, and geographic and language boundaries will decrease. Our desktop tethers will be eliminated and search will be ubiquitous.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.
www.infotoday.com
phane@infotoday.com

Open Access and Repositories: Hot Topics

Open Access Publishing (OAP) and self-publishing in repositories are sure to generate a room full of interested people these days, and the SLA sessions on these topics were no exception.

In the OAP session, Marie McVeigh reviewed some research that Thomson Scientific has done on the effect of OAP on citation rates and impact factors. She mentioned papers by Lawrence in Nature (2001), who studied conference presentations in computer science; Antelman in College & Research Libraries (2004) and Wren in
British Medical Journal (2005), who looked at groups of articles. All of these studies indicated that just because an article was available at no cost did not necessarily increase its usage.

George Kendall from the National Academy of Sciences discussed their experience with their Proceedings journal (PNAS). PNAS becomes freely available six months after publication, but authors can pay to have their articles available freely immediately. About 15% of PNAS authors opt for immediate free access; their articles enjoy a 50% increase in usage in the first month of publication.

Finally, Peter Suber of Earlham College and creator of a well known newsletter and website on OAP, described faculty views of OAP. They want wider access to their works via OAP as authors, and as readers, they want increase access to the works of other authors. However, as Suber pointed out, librarians have a much better understanding of the issues in OAP, but faculty have more control over the solutions because they decide where to publish their papers. It’s an interesting dichotomy and one for which a solution is needed. Suber suggested that authors ask journal publishers for permission to self-archive their articles in their institutional repositories. They have little to lose because over 80% of publishers now routinely give such permission.

In another session on self-archiving, some similar sentiments appeared. In the corporate world, however, the picture is different because corporate researchers are not as dependent upon publication for promotion, etc. So it is much more difficult to get them to contribute their articles to a repository. Librarians at companies with a clearance process for external publication have an advantage if they can get those responsible for clearing articles to notify them when an article has gone through the process. Another speaker said that in his view, self-archiving does not work in an academic setting because most faculty are strongly tied to traditional publishing and are ignorant or fearful of self-archiving.

Clearly, OAP still has a long way to go before it becomes universally accepted, and we can expect to see overflowing sessions on this subject at future conferences.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Frequent Speakers

Several speakers had a prominent parts on the SLA program and spoke at several sessions. Here’s Mary Ellen Bates just before her “60 tips in 90 minutes” session.

And here’s Gary Price

and Genie Tyburski

just before their session on Web Tools. You can see copies of their slides at the following web sites: Gary, Genie, Mary Ellen. Or plan to attend an upcoming Web Search University, where you can hear from them at length.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Facing Up to the Future

The closing keynote speaker was Gary Hamel, of the London Business School, Strategos, and the Woodside Institute . His talk, entitled "Facing up to the Future," was richly illustrated with New Yorker cartoons (shown without attribution or copyright notice), but he left his other slides on screen for such a short period of time that I found it difficult to completely follow his train of thought.

He had 5 propositions:

The future is less and less an extrapolation of the past. Change is accelerating, as is ignorance. We need to recalibrate our priorities.

Success has never been so fragile. Being the incumbent is worth less and less
As change accelerates, so must the pace of strategic renewal. He likened corporate top executive changes to regime change in dictatorships in third world countries and advocated making deep changes, not only changes at the margins.

Every one of us has to become an enemy of entropy. We should understand the lenses through which people view information. We need to be the antidote to denial, to filter out the filterers, and foster a contrarian spirit.

We are not just librarians. We need to raise our value add. Hamel’s suggested roles: Court jesters, mindset engineers, future seeking radar, and decision architects.

Innovation, he said comes from identifying unexamined dogmas, unexploited trends, unseen assets, and unvoiced needs. He also talked about the resiliency of markets, life, cities, faith, and democracy.

His final message for SLA conference attendees: "Move from being custodians of information to catalysts for renewal."

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

Business Meeting, Round 2

The Wednesday morning Business meeting was primarily reports and leadership recognition. Executive Director Janice Lachance updated the conference attendance figures. The final total is 5,273. In looking back on the Association’s year, Janice said that the profession "is redesigning itself into a broader, more inclusive community." She pointed to Click University as a major initiative that will set a new standard for professional development and create a new revenue stream for SLA. Other SLA developments over the past year are increased globalization, community building, advocacy that promotes our value and values, benefits to society from our work, smart financial management, and growth. She ended her review of the year just past by saying, "Why think small?" Her mantra is, "Enthusiasm is contagious!"

About to become past president, Ethel Salonen, then reviewed her presidential year. "We made it so!" she declared.

Incoming president Pam Rollo introduced themes for her presidential year: advocacy and defining our value. She’ll be forming task forces and is asking for the active participation in the values definition and statement construction from at least 1% of Association members.

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