SLA, Part 3: Onions and Embassies

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Despite the late night, I awoke rather refreshed and eager to embark on yet another busy day. For the morning’s first session, I dropped in briefly on “Globalization: Emerging Opportunities for the Library Profession” then moved on to “Reaching Next-Gen Users with Unified Discovery Services”. The latter provided a demonstration of a product employed by Dartmouth’s library to aggregate its entire collection within one integrated search box. While it was interesting, it didn’t fit my needs so I logged into Twitter and searched #sla2009. I noticed several people were commenting on “The Role of Social Networking Sites in Research”, so I packed my bags and headed to the other wing. By the time I arrived, it was apparent that others had followed the tweets because there was standing room only and very little of that.

Meg Smith, a researcher for The Washington Post’s Metro section, provided numerous examples of how she has mined social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, Wikipedia and about a dozen others to cull information for her newspaper’s reports and also to assist local law enforcement. She observed that because of the growing popularity of the aforementioned sites and their ability to limit searches by geographic region that local networks, like Louisville Mojo were waning. She also declared this the “Golden Age of Twitter” because users’ tweets still remain publicly accessible.

Next, I attended the Information Technology Division Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony. Unlike Saturday’s meeting, this was open to the entire group. We viewed two video entries for the centennial contest and heard an excerpt from the Student Award winner Stephanie Buck’s paper, “Emerging Technologies: Libraries in the Cloud”. It was announced to much applause that SLA has chosen Drupal for its content management system, which will be available to all chapters and divisions. This is the same CMS that the law school employs.

Following the meeting, I joined a packed house for “Onion Editor Calls for an End to Reading”. Scott Dikkers, editor and founder, provided much needed comic relief. His entire presentation was a parody replete with videos, newspaper archives, and statistics demonstrating why the Onion is America's finest news source. During the Q/A session, someone asked, “of all the vegetables, why did you choose an onion?” Scott replied that it’s a metaphor for peeling the layers of a juicy news story. Another asked if he was threatened by John Stewart to which he replied, “While they make fun of real news, we make up the news. We have a niche”. Evidently it takes one week from conception to publication for each feature, as opposed to 18 hours for The Daily Show.

That evening, I joined Ruth Kneale and Dick Kaser, editor of Computers in Libraries at the Technical Support Roundtable. We discussed cloud computing, Vista, open-source solutions and browser issues. We were later joined by Kathleen Robertson, another astronomy colleague from Hawaii. Shortly after, I reported to duty at The Embassy Ball, an annual dance party hosted by the IT and Leadership and Management Divisions.

Social networking and 
research session
Aloha Librarians
Flags of SLA membership
The Embassy Ball