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Reflections on the SLA conference

Now that SLA is over and I'm back in the office, I thought I'd share some reflections on the conference.

My favorite event of the week was the customer appreciation reception we held on Tuesday evening. It was so gratifying to have a room filled with happy people. So filled, in fact, that we were literally rubbing elbows with our customers.

It was a treat to be able to meet with customers from as far away as New Zealand, and others who have been using Inmagic products for as long as 20 years. If that doesn't make you feel good, I don't know what will.

I spoke to a number of customers at the reception about how they felt the conference was going, and what sessions they liked the most. One of these conversations really stuck out in my mind.

A client from New York said she attended a session about Web 2.0 and social media. The speaker was eloquent and very knowledgeable, but after the session she was left with the lingering question, "How am I ever going to use this?"

And this customer wasn't the only one with doubts. It seemed to a common theme with other librarians and knowledge networkers throughout SLA. Social media was discussed throughout the conference, but how does it apply to their catalogs or other databases they are building and/or publishing on the Web?

I think think this image on Philipp Keller's blog sums up the history of social tagging nicely. Maybe the library space is in the "Peak of Gum Flapping about Library 2.0." But where is the beef?

I believe we need to move the conversation to the next level -- "the slope of enlightenment?" -- and focus on the following questions:
  • How can I use these techniques to make my organization more productive?
    How can I integrate these technologies tightly with my OPAC?
  • How will the integration of these technologies help my organization, and how will it affect my job?
  • What is the librarian's role in building strategically critical knowledge repositories that use and leverage KM as well as social media techniques?
I want to explore some of these issues over the next few days, weeks, and months. Let me know your reactions to the conference and all the Web/library/social 2.0 hype.

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