SLA, Part 1: Spies, Beehives and a 4-Star General


On Saturday, I arrived in Washington, DC for the annual Special Libraries Association's conference. The first order of business after having checked into the hotel was attending the Information Technology Division's board meeting. While there, I reunited with an "old" friend from Hawaii, reacquainted myself with colleagues I met at the SLA Leadership Conference in Savannah, and submitted my report as the Webmaster Section Chair.

On Sunday, I met up with cousins in Baltimore to enjoy brunch and attend the Hon Festival, an annual 1950's style event inspired by local boy John Waters' "Hairspray". I regret having left my camera in DC and was unable to capture the many colorfully adorned "hons" (diner speak for "honey") replete with pink beehives and feather boas.

Later that evening, I attended the awards presentation, followed by former Secretate of State, Colin Powell's keynote address, and the centennial celebration. As we entered the venue, we were greeted by Hoovers' robot. I observed a gentleman berating him about the General's role in the decision to enter the Iraq War on false intelligence, to which the robot repeatedly replied "no comment". I initially wondered if that was the extent of its lexicon, but later observed it engaging in simple conversation. I then pondered if it was the tone of the gentleman or perhaps a keyword "liar' that triggered its response and decided I needed to seek out an AI librarian to explain.

Two of my Kentucky Chapter colleagues were awarded. Stacey Greenwell is a 2009 Fellow and Abby Heath-Thorne was recognized as a Rising Star within the organization. General Powell's talk was surprisingly entertaining, tech savvy, and relevant for the audience of information professionals. He joked that he learned all he knows about social networking from his 14-year old grandson who was born digital and that while he was born analog, he'd purchased a $59 converter to facilitate conversation between the two. I took copius notes and photos that I hope to share.

Later that evening, I attended a special tour of the International Spy Museum. Upon entering, I chose my code name "Greta Schmidt" and then assumed the identity of the 30-something German astronomer/secret agent throughout the rest of my tour. Not only did I learn about the sisterhood of spies, I discovered that my favorite founding father, Benjamin Franklin, helped prevent an attack by British troops through coded messages. Other highlights included interactive skills games, instructions for creating your very own microdot (microscopic photographs) with a pack of cigarettes and bottle of vodka, and the opportunity to crawl through an A/C duct. Lasting impressions: 2.5 hours is not nearly enough time to absorb all that the museum has to offer and lock picking suddenly sounds like an interesting hobby.

I wrapped up the night conversing with my roommate, a law librarian from Albuquerque who is also the New Mexico chapter's president.

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Colin Powell
Colin Powell
SLA Award Winners
Hoovers Robot