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If SLA is in Toronto, Can the Bloggers Be Far Behind?
Posted On May 31, 2005
This year, SLA (Special Libraries Association) heads to Toronto for its annual conference—and several Information Today, Inc. editors and writers will be there, ready to enjoy the city and blog the conference for the second year in a row. The official dates are June 5-8, 2005, but the board of directors holds meetings both before and after the main conference, and tours are available on June 9. The Live from Toronto blog ( will cover as many aspects of the conference as the bloggers can handle, including association business meetings, conference sessions, the exhibit floor, and social events. Plus, we'll have backup from some editors who will not be in Canada.

Conference sessions are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; the exhibit hall opens on Sunday. Monday's opening general session will be keynoted by Don Tapscott from New Paradigm Learning Corp. On Tuesday, the keynote speaker is Bill Buxton of Buxton Design. Although the printed preliminary program didn't list a keynote speaker for Wednesday, it has been announced that the closing session keynoter is Gary Hamel. The InfoToday blog will cover all three keynotes.

What's Happening in Toronto
Programming for SLA conferences is done by volunteers from each Division. Thus, topics reflect the real-life interests of working special librarians. Several divisions are hosting vendor round tables, inviting their major information providers to present what's new and important in the product lines. Some sessions (such as Who Owns Scientific Knowledge and Who Deserves To: Are Patents an Incentive for Innovation or an Obstacle to Further Development?) sound very thought provoking. That session will be held Monday at 11:30 a.m. Others are more practical, such as Taking the Sting Out of Statistics: Basic Concepts. (That will be Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.) Other interesting session topics include copyright, new resources in various subject areas, outsourcing, health savings accounts, mapping, digitization, embedded librarians, and business intelligence.

The exhibit hall is a vital component of the SLA annual conference. It's the place to learn about new products and new companies, not to mention catching up with changes, meeting with vendor representatives, and reacquainting yourself with known product lines. According to SLA, there are approximately 260 exhibitors this year—50 of them new to the conference, making this one of the largest exhibit halls ever. Exhibit hours are noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. It's likely that the InfoToday bloggers will bring you news from as many of these exhibitors as possible.

SLA Governance
There are also some contentious issues facing the association. Members are being asked to vote on two bylaws amendments. These proposed amendments would:

  • Give members the ability to vote in elections and for future bylaws amendments through the convenience of an online voting system
  • Simplify the association's financial, operational, and leadership transition processes by aligning the association's governance year with the beginning of its fiscal year

According to the process set forth in the current bylaws, these proposed amendments will be considered at SLA's Annual Business Meeting, which will be held Tuesday, June 7, 2005, from 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. SLA leadership believes that these two amendments can be discussed and voted upon in the hour allocated to it. Information Today bloggers will be on hand to tell you what transpires during that time.

The Business Meeting will continue on Wednesday, June 8, at 9 a.m. The plan is for officer reports and leadership transition to occur that morning. Again, the InfoToday bloggers will be there to report the occasion.

Why Blog SLA?
This is the second SLA conference that Information Today, Inc. has covered in blog format. (The first was last year in Nashville, Tenn.) ITI has also blogged the Online Information show in London, NFAIS in Philadelphia, and Computers in Libraries in Washington, D.C. It's become somewhat of a tradition for a blogging team to provide editorial coverage for conferences that are important to information professionals. Information Today, Inc. sees this as an extension of its editorial mission.

According to Dick Kaser, ITI's vice president of content: "When we began blogging conferences 3 years ago, we had no idea where the experiment would take us. And, I would dare say, we don't know yet. But we do know that the blogging era has brought us a whole new way to communicate with our audience and a refreshing energy in our reporting work. We are proud to both support and be a part of the blogging community."

Kaser added: "By now people realize how important blogs are to the information mix. ITI offers Steven Cohen's Library Stuff ( blog and Marydee Ojala's Online Insider ( blog, in addition to special conference blogs at key industry events, represented this time around by the SLA blog."

It would be nice if every SLA member had the budget, time, and inclination to attend SLA in Toronto. Many do. Advance registrations for the annual conference are, according to SLA, ahead of last year. But for those who can't attend, there's the Information Today blog.

Marydee Ojala is the editor-in-chief of Online Searcher magazine, chairs WebSearch University, and is Program Development Director for Enterprise Search & Discovery.

Email Marydee Ojala
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