Business Law


  1. Are You From Osage?
    Leigh Hallingby, Tom Nielsen, and Rita Ormsby
  2. Content Management: Celebrating a Wedding, Applauding a Promotion, and Mourning a Loss—Database Style
    Tessa Blanchfield | Project Leader, Sales and Marketing, Leadership Directories
  3. The City of Brotherly Love Welcomes SLA 2011
    Lisa Chow | Scholarship Winner |
  4. A First Time SLA Conference Attendee Gets Future Ready
    Clara Cabrera | Scholarship Winner
  5. Learning About CI at SLA
    David Adler | Scholarship Winner |
  6. You’ve Been Served: Visiting the Legal Division's Executive Board
    Alyson Clabaugh | Scholarship Winner
  7. Focused on Becoming Future Ready in a New Career
    Kelly Amabile | Scholarship Winner |
  8. SLA Conference: A Source of Support and Inspiration
    Christina Meninger | Scholarship Winner |
Chapter News reports on the upcoming activities of our many groups and committees, announces upcoming events, and highlights the extraordinary work being done by members of the New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association.

As this is "for members, by members" we hope you’ll share your ideas for future stories and volunteer to write an article for an upcoming issue. Please contact Toby Lyles at to get involved. For our vendor members, numerous advertising opportunities are available. Please contact Happy Blitt for details.

The Winter 2011 issue will be published December 12, 2011. Submissions are due November 4, 2011.

Are You From Osage?

Leigh Hallingby, Tom Nielsen, and Rita Ormsby


At an early fall SLA-NY advisory committee meeting several years ago, Rita Ormsby, sitting next to Leigh Hallingby, inquired about her summer. Leigh said she had visited Iowa for the first time. Rita asked, “Oh, where did you go?” Leigh replied, “Oh, somewhere you have probably never heard of.” To which, Rita, an Iowa native replied, “Try me.” And, when Leigh said, “Osage,” Rita remarked, “I know it well. My dad grew up on a farm in Little Cedar, which is about six miles northeast of Osage.” They agreed it was a small world if two people sitting next to each other at a meeting in New York City had a connection to Osage. But, Rita knew that SLA-NY member Tom Nielsen also had a connection to this northern Iowa town of 3,460.

We thought we would share our stories with other SLA-NY members:

From Hallingby, Norway, to Osage, Iowa, by Leigh Hallingby

This the Hallingby family of Osage, Iowa, ca 1900.  The boy on
 the lower right is Paul Hallingby, who became Leigh's grandfather. 
One of my favorite family photos is of my Hallingby ancestors right around the turn of the 20th century. There are my great grandparents, Ole Olson Hallingby and Ingeborg Johansen Hallingby and their nine children, seven girls and two boys. This large, dour-looking Victorian family lived in Osage, Iowa, to which Ole had emigrated in 1869 from Hallingby, Norway, a small village about an hour north of Oslo. One of his two young sons, Paul Hallingby, about seven at the time of the photo, eventually became my grandfather. My father, Paul Hallingby, Jr., remembered his grandfather Ole as a “grumpy old man,” who, when someone asked him how he was, would reply: “Rotten!” Fortunately, Ole’s obituary gives a more positive impression of a carpenter who helped build many familiar landmarks in Osage.

Ironically I traveled to the town of Hallingby, Norway (population 833), a decade before I managed to get to Osage thanks to a 300th anniversary family reunion in 1996. We crossed the Atlantic to celebrate the 1696 building of the Hallingby homestead, a log cabin still in the family. I longed for many years to visit Osage as well, so that I could stand on the corner of 6th and Chestnut, where the Norwegian/American Hallingbys had lived. My wish came true in 2007 when my sister Allison suggested that we take our annual summer baseball trip to Iowa to attend a Des Moines Cubs game on Friday, July 6th, and then head up to northern Iowa the next day. And so it happened that on Sunday morning July 8, 2007, I was indeed standing on the exact corner where the Hallingby family had lived. There was no way of knowing if their house was still standing. But no matter, it was still a thrill to be there.

After seeing the corner where the Hallingbys resided, Allison and I headed to the town cemetery to look for the graves of Ole and Ingeborg. To our delight, the cemetery was, like any self-respecting library, well cataloged. The broiling hot Iowa day made us appreciate this even more. A directory at the entrance told us exactly how to find the grave. In a New York minute, there we were at the Hallingby headstone which commemorated the lives of Ingeborg and Ole, as well as that of an infant son Oscar. We couldn’t get over the ease of finding the gravesite, nor over the rows of corn coming right up to the edge of the cemetery!

Imagine my surprise, after I returned home, to discover that not one, but two, other active SLA-NY members also have roots in the same small town of Osage, Iowa. It is hard to conceive of what our lives today, in the greatest city in the world, might have in common with the lives of previous generations of our families in Osage. But it is a wonderful gift to feel, and to stay, connected to our roots in “The Heart of America.”

Osage, Iowa Recollections by Tom Nielsen

My grandmother, my father’s mother, is my connection to Osage, Iowa. Before she married my Grandpa Kasper, May Gilbert lived on a farm near Osage in a typical large farm family, three girls and six boys. Two of her brothers, John and Lawrence, bought neighboring farms just outside Osage and when I was a child my family would escape the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, to visit them quite often. Uncle Lawrence and his wife Sylvia had seven kids and, when my family of six came calling, you had a loud and lively bunch. As a city kid, I was not interested in the farm animals and crops so I usually stayed in the house, but there was a good reason why. Lawrence and Sylvia had one memorable toy that thrilled any visiting child. It was a multi-tiered wooden ramp for marbles. I loved dropping those marbles one at a time onto the top ramp, watching them roll into a pocket at the end and onto a second ramp, then down to another pocket to a third ramp and finally landing with a sharp clink into a tall coffee tin. The appeal of this toy was not just the novelty of watching marbles roll down each ramp, but of putting all the marbles onto the ramp and waiting for them to drop noisily into that coffee tin, a prolonged and distracting clattering that, to my delight, stopped all conversation in the room.

I recall one visit when all eleven kids, including my older sister and two brothers and I, piled into one of their old cars and drove down the dusty dirt road they lived on. To a city kid, this kind of freedom was unheard of, so when someone asked if I wanted to steer the car I jumped at the chance. I sat on my sister’s lap and steered with a white-knuckle grip, a mix of fright and abandon. But as if fate were checking our fun, one of the tires went flat ending that escapade.

Uncle John’s house could not have been more different. He was a preacher at two churches in the area and he and his wife Agnes had no children, but I recall with fascination that their home was decidedly low tech. They cooked and heated with a big cast iron wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen. They had an old pump organ in the living room where I got a leg workout practicing my piano lessons. Without a TV, they passed the time playing card games and surprisingly entertaining games with dominoes. When that got tiring, they had a badminton net set up in the front yard. The fact that this was also a sheep grazing area added an extra challenge because city kids do not want to get sheep dung on their shoes.

This past summer my partner and I drove back to the Midwest for an extended vacation and during our stay we made a bittersweet visit to the Osage cemetery. There I was able to see for the first time the graves of my Grandma May and Grandpa Kasper, my Great Uncle John and other Gilbert family members. In a new section of the cemetery I found my father’s new headstone laid in August 2009. Although it is tough to bid farewell to close relatives, it is also nice to enjoy fond recollections with those that are still alive and I was able to do that with Aunt Agnes, Uncle Lawrence and Aunt Sylvia, all in their 90’s, during that trip to Osage. So back in NYC, far from the Osage cemetery and farmsteads, having a couple colleagues to share these memories with is, well, almost as thrilling as dropping marbles into a coffee tin.

My connection to Osage by Rita Ormsby

My father’s family moved to the Little Cedar farm in the 1920s from another Iowa farm community. My grandmother, Olive, drove a Model-T with her three young sons while her husband, Thomas, traveled by rail with the livestock. My grandparents and their sons raised hogs for breeding purposes, and chickens for eggs for sale in Osage. I’ve realized over the years that my dad’s youth was during the Great Depression, and times were tough. A baseball diamond in one of their fields drew neighbor families for Sunday afternoon games. Although Little Cedar’s Main Street once had a school, bank, post office, creamery and general store, only a feed store and a welding shop remains today. My dad was proud that he was third in his Little Cedar high school class, but there were only four graduates.

My dad left the farm to become a civil engineer, serve in World II, and then married and reared his family elsewhere in Iowa. Unfortunately, his brothers were killed during World War II, and today no family resides in the area. By the early 1950s, my grandparents had retired to an acreage on Osage’s western edge. It was next to the A&W drive in, and for my sister and two brothers and me, there was not a better place for grandparents to live. I recall after a day into a week-long visit, A&W limited the free “kiddie root beer” we could have. Another time, I helped my grandfather gather eggs into a wire basket. I insisted I was big enough to put the basket on the kitchen counter for grandma. We had a very large number of scrambled eggs for breakfast that day.

Although my dad died several years ago, family members still visit Osage and Little Cedar frequently. The largest private employer in Osage is the Fox River Mills Company, which makes the Rockford red-heeled work socks, often used for monkey sock dolls. Since 30 years ago, when I made a monkey doll, at my sister’s request for my new-born nephew, I’ve made about 50 such dolls. It helps me stay connected to my Iowa roots. And, yes, I like the Kia Sorento commercials featuring the sock monkey. He made it to New York too.

Rita Ormsby, Tom Nielsen, and Leigh Hallingby

About the authors:

Leigh Hallingby,, is the Head Librarian at the Open Society Foundations/Soros Foundations

Tom Nielsen,, is the Member Services Manager of Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)

Rita Ormsby,, is an associate professor and Information Services Librarian, The William and Anita Newman Library, Baruch College

Content Management: Celebrating a Wedding, Applauding a Promotion, and Mourning a Loss—Database Style

Tessa Blanchfield | Project Leader, Sales and Marketing,  Leadership Directories

Tessa Blanchfield is the newest member of the sales and marketing team at Leadership Directories, Inc. In 2009, she joined the company as a Content Manager (researcher) for the Federal Yellow Book. One year later she became a lead developer for Leadership Health Focus, LDI’s health management database. Ms. Blanchfield is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, in 2008.
"The countless bits of information that we research each day combine to make up part of a person’s identity. We are not just entering facts; we are recording a part of people’s lives."

How do you track down a government official? More importantly, how do you find out if that government official still has the same email address, last name, or is still in the workforce?

During my two years as a content manager researching information for the Federal Yellow Book at Leadership Directories (LDI), I had to ask myself this question countless times. Our company’s mission is to deliver the most up-to-date and accurate information about people working in federal and state government, Congress, corporations, nonprofits, law firms, courts, media publications, and the healthcare industry. Because LDI is over 45 years old, the company’s content managers have been able to establish long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships with points of contact in the organizations that we list in our products. This requires that my coworkers and I check in with these contacts regularly to ensure that our content is comprehensive and precise.

However, there are many personnel and organizational changes that take place in between the scheduled quarterly chats with contacts, and part of my job was to stay abreast of breaking news so that our online yellow books reflected changes immediately. To that end, I spent hours each morning reviewing various news outlets and official press releases looking for anything that might affect our content. I would read everything from the business section to the style section, along with wedding announcements, and of course, the obituaries.

But finding leads is only part of the database maintenance process. Every piece of information that reaches the content managers at Leadership Directories is confirmed, sometimes painstakingly, at the source. As relevant and well researched as they are, it does not matter to us if the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times all publish the same story about a Cabinet member leaving the White House. We still contact the staff at the relevant office to confirm the story before we even consider putting the information in our database. This is one of the most important aspects of a researcher’s job and there are times when we spend hours tracking down the right person to confirm the information.

While the information gathering process can be tedious and intense work, it has its unique moments. As part of my research, while striving to confirm a piece of news gathered elsewhere, I often got to be one of the first people to congratulate someone on a promotion or wedding announcement. And sometimes the news I had to confirm was so outrageous all I could do was shake my head in wonderment.

Just seven months after I started my researching career at LDI, I made my first of what would be many uncomfortable phone calls to a government office. Media outlets had reported that a relatively highly placed government official had used his government computer to view over 3,000 sexually explicit images over the course of two years. According to speculation, the official in question was either going to be fired or transferred to a different section in his department. It fell on me to confirm that a career change was imminent. I called the infamous official’s office and had to suppress my desire to ask about the incident. Instead, I decided to avoid mentioning the unfolding scandal and simply asked if there were any changes to the management structure. Sure enough, a very perky (and possibly relieved) executive assistant informed me that her boss had already been transferred to a different post in Washington, D.C. I thanked her and, on hanging up, took a deep breath. That call went better than I had anticipated.

Much of the time, phone calls like these are at best interesting, and at worst, extremely uncomfortable and emotionally taxing. By far, the hardest moments in the life of a LDI researcher are when we have to confirm the passing of an employee. My fellow researchers call this process confirming a “database death.”

No one likes this part of the job. From a pure database maintenance perspective, the task is simple. After we confirm that someone whom we list has died, we follow a strict set of rules to delink that person from all of their positions, save their information, and finally, check off a small checkbox beside their name that simply says, “Deceased.” We can process a death in the database fairly easily, but researching it is an altogether different matter.

In February of 2010, I came across the Washington Post obituary of a much respected director who worked at the Department of the Interior. He had died suddenly due to cardiac complications while he was on vacation, and the news came as a shock to the entire community. The onus was on me to confirm his death, and it could not have gone any worse.

The Department had yet to issue a press release about the matter, so I had no choice but to call the office. Before doing so, I consulted with my co-workers about the best method of confirming the news and finding out whom, if anyone, was slated to act in his position. I decided the best way to handle the situation was to simply call and ask if there were any management changes in the office. Unfortunately, I reached the director’s personal secretary and she was still deep in mourning. Before I could articulate my question, she burst into tears on the other side of the phone and said, “He’s not even buried yet and you want to know who will replace him?” There was nothing left for me to do but convey my condolences and hang up the phone. I had researched and confirmed the news, but I felt no satisfaction on having gotten the confirmation. When it was time for me to record the information, I recall staring at the computer screen for a long time at before I clicked on that “Deceased” button. That day, a piece of news had become a part of my reality and I, too, felt a loss.

To us in the research world, it sometimes seems that the people whose information we research and enter into neat little boxes exist solely in the dispassionate, gray world of our database. We enter phone numbers, birth dates and education records without a second thought. But then, every so often, a person comes alive to us. Like when we find out that a lawyer temporarily left her position to go on maternity leave, or that someone listed in our Federal Yellow Book married someone from our Congressional Yellow Book. Such a change serves to remind us that the countless bits of information that we enter each day actually serve to make up part of a person’s identity. We are not just entering facts; we are recording a part of people’s lives. That is why every time a researcher has to make room for a maiden name, record a promotion, or process a death, we take a deep breath and, sitting alone in our cubicles, have our own personal moment of silence or of joy.

The City of Brotherly Love Welcomes SLA 2011

Lisa Chow | Scholarship Winner |

Lisa is a 2011 SLA Rising Star and blogs at People Interact about usability, user experience, unconferences, interactions, and all things people.

Philadelphia's City Hall, Photo taken by Ayinde Listhrop
SLA 2011 took place in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

Here are my conference highlights:

Opening General Session

Thomas Friedman was the speaker for the Opening General Session.
Two takeaways from his talk:

  1. Most ideas are not original. If you thought of it, chances are others thought of it too. Whatever can be done will be done. The question is will it be done by you or to you.
  2. Being average is officially over. What’s your extra? Find it, develop it and exploit it.

Conference Schedule Conflicts

There are always schedule conflicts at conferences. One of many conflicts involved my responsibilities as DBIO Medical Section Chair and SLA Rising Star. I couldn’t make it to the SLA Rising Stars/SLA Fellows Roundtable where Rising Stars and Fellows were paired up for discussions, since the Medical Section business meeting and program took place at the same time. It all worked out because a SLA Fellow couldn’t make it to the roundtable either because she was one of the speakers for the Medical Section program. For other conflicts such as interest in multiple programs taking place at the same time, I would hop from one program to another, if the program wasn’t what I expected. Otherwise, I try to get a copy of the missed presentation.

SLA 2011 Philly Banner, Photo
 taken by Ayinde Listhrop
DBIO Medical Section Program: It’s All Hallway!

Karen Huffman, Mary Talley Garcia and I presented It’s All Hallway! An Unconference Approach to Professional Development where we gave an overview of unconferences, talked about specific unconferences such as the SLA unconferences and HealthCampNYC and how attendees can organize their own unconference. We did a mini-unconference as a part of the program. You can also find out more about unconferences in a recently published METRO LibGuide.

Toot Your Own Horn

"Create a brag-ologue" - Mary Ellen Bates, Info Pro Guerrilla Marketing session
Mary Ellen Bates gave a talk on Info Pro Guerrilla Marketing.
Five takeaways from her talk:

  1. Create a brag-ologue.
  2. Strut your stuff.
  3. Build a 3D profile.
  4. See yourself as a brand.
  5. Work with fear.

Speaking of tooting your own horn, I nominated myself for SLA Rising Star. Why am I telling you this? Because if you’ve done great work, don’t wait for someone else to recognize it - go ahead and nominate yourself.

A First Time SLA Conference Attendee Gets Future Ready

Clara Cabrera | Scholarship Winner

Clara Cabrera is a Research and Reference Specialist for the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr. Clara received her MLIS from Pratt Institute in 2009. An active member of the SLA–New York chapter, she has previously held the Library School Liaison and Joblog Coordinator positions. Clara was awarded the 2011 Rising Star award by SLA.

Collaboration to accelerate the availability of useful information.
Adaptable skill set that anticipates and responds to the evolving marketplace.
Alignment with the language and values of the community you serve.
Community that connects stakeholders in mutually beneficial relationships.
So how does someone starting her second career and new to the library profession get to the best seat in the house of the SLA annual conference? This is how I got there along with some of my thoughts on being “Future Ready.” Prior to 2009, I was working for a small financial publishing company, having spent 2007-2009 working full time and attending graduate school to obtain my Master’s degree. Scheduling and finances being what they were for me, attending a library conference was difficult to swing. I did hear and read about friends and colleagues attending conferences and knew I was missing out on a great experience.

After being an active officer of the SLA student chapter at Pratt, I became actively involved in roles at SLA-NY. I attended local chapter events; I even organized a few events and meet many fellow information professionals along the way. I was nominated for the 2011 Rising Star award – an award that five new information professionals from across all the chapters receive. For the record, the best part of receiving this award is that I was nominated by people that I have worked alongside as a volunteer. None of the activities I have been a part of could have been successful without the parts played by so many others. The award provides entrance to the full SLA conference and an awards ceremony at the opening events of the conference, and the award winners each take part in a panel of fellow Rising Stars and newly inducted SLA Fellows.

The panel discussed the four pillars of Cindy Romaine’s concept of “Future Ready” – described on the Future Ready Blog as:

Collaboration to accelerate the availability of useful information
Adaptable skill set that anticipates and responds to the evolving marketplace
Alignment with the language and values of the community you serve
Community that connects stakeholders in mutually beneficial relationships

Working with Webb Shaw, Director of Editorial Resources of J.J. Keller – sponsor of the Rising Star Award – each of the Rising Stars were paired with a Fellow and we discussed how the elements of being “Future Ready” relate to our experiences in the profession. Leoma Dunn, of the Kentucky SLA chapter, and I paired up to discuss Collaboration.

Since we discussed how these pillars were part of our professional experience as new and veteran professionals, I’ll briefly mention the comments we made in discussing Collaboration. Since I think my biography reads of my collaboration in this field, it was fairly straightforward for me to discuss how collaboration played a part in my professional development. In my graduate years I found collaboration opportunities in both informal classmate study groups and student associations/groups. Collaboration is evident in my current work place
  • in intra-departmental communication and reference tracking tools, such as email and SharePoint;
  • in departments within the same branch of our corporate organizational structure (Technical Services, Knowledge Management, Content Management);
  • with other firm departments, such as Business Development, Legal Talent recruitment, and Information Technology groups;
  • with suppliers/vendors; and, of course,
  • with the End User.
In the professional arena my collaboration experience has been in professional associations (SLA and others) and within informal meet-ups of professional people who share the same information professional space, but may differ in the job titles or firm in which we work. It also extends to the professional literature which I see as the “published format of collaboration” in which we follow and find out what other professionals are doing in the field (such as blog commenting or letters to the editors for print publications).

My panel partner Leoma discussed her own unique experience as President of the Kentucky Library Association, which includes public, school media, special, and academic librarians, and how the collaboration of these varied libraries help with each library’s own issues. Leoma works in the academic setting and has found that the nature of academic culture, where you have to present and work with others as part of your job, is more open, inclusive and naturally lends itself to collaboration.

Both Leoma and I referenced a great transcript (found on the CEO’s Corner page of of Janice LaChance’s presentation on collaboration at the ICAL conference in Delhi, India, in 2009. I recommend everyone read this speech. LaChance provides specific examples of collaboration at work in several U.S. library environments that really informed our understanding of collaboration at the larger multi-institutional level.

I enjoyed my participation in the panel on being “Future Ready”: meeting some of the other great new professional talent in the field, and the veteran knowledge workers that I had the honor of sharing the table with. Since the panel took place fairly early on in the course of the multi-day conference, I spent the bulk of my first time conference experience popping in and out of various sessions that piqued my interest, and vendor sponsored events that highlighted some upgrades to their products. Overall, I had a wonderful learning experience, and look forward to future conferences.

I could not have had these great experiences without SLA and J.J. Keller, the award sponsor of the 2011 Rising Star award. I owe a great thanks to SLA New York Chapter for nominating me for the Rising Star award and for also awarding me with a chapter scholarship to attend the SLA Conference. Thank you.

Learning About CI at SLA

David Adler | Scholarship Winner |

David is a Senior Competitive Intelligence Librarian, Bingham McCutchen

This year with the chapter’s generosity, I was able to attend the SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Listening to Thomas Friedman who was the Opening General Session Speaker was very enjoyable. Mr. Friedman spoke about globalization and the need to think about the way we do our jobs. We are living in an age where individuals can and must act globally. Mr. Friedman noted that in the future the world will be comprised of High Imagination Enabling Countries (HIE) and Low Imagination Enabling Countries (LIE). He challenged the audience to find the innovation within themselves. Mr. Friedman stated that if you do not act upon your idea, then someone else will. He noted that the days of “average” are over and that employees must reinvent themselves and their jobs to survive. Employers want employees with critical thinking and reasoning skills. Focus on these skills will help employees avoid their work being automated, outsourced or downsized. I found these points to be very relevant.

Because I do competitive intelligence (CI) in a law firm, I focused my track on legal and CI related sessions. I was not disappointed. There were discussions revolving around challenges of CI which include understanding the needs of your clients, designing and creating intelligence products and measuring the effect of your deliverables. How CI is perceived within the law firm was also discussed. Companies need to realize that their competition does not always mean their competitor. A competitor can be market change or new legislation or even an individual. When looking at the landscape that one operates in, one must keep these variables in mind to be successful. Your competitor today might not be your competitor tomorrow. I also learned that in order for a group to be effective in CI, one must understand the client and the competitive landscape that the client is in. The concept of Actionable Intelligence was discussed and the role that CI plays in the decision making progress was also mentioned.

Mary Ellen Bates, what can I say? A lot actually. She is always a pleasure to listen to and she did not disappoint. She discussed ways to describe what you do to your clients and various ways to market yourself. She recommended that when describing your work, focus on the WHY not the HOW or WHAT. Ms. Bates stated that each client interaction is a teaching moment and that speaking a client’s language is critical to explaining the services you can offer. To me these are excellent points.

There were hundreds of vendors there and I managed to stop by a majority of them. Most of them were products with which I was already familiar. However, there were a couple of vendors that seemed to focus on due diligence which was interesting.

I was able to network with around 50 people from companies that I previously did not know. I was able to make great connections. Speaking with them was very educational to me.

Overall, it was a great experience and I thank the chapter for giving me the opportunity to go.

You’ve Been Served: Visiting the Legal Division's Executive Board

Alyson Clabaugh | Scholarship Winner

Alyson is an information specialist with the mergers and acquisitions practice group at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.

Train doors rang in the darkness. “Philadelphia — 30th Street Station,” the conductor barked.

“Swell,” I sneered as I rubbed my palms together. I tugged my neck tie into place, adjusted my display handkerchief, clamped my felt hat on my head, and sprang into action: I would soon gumshoe my way into the SLA Legal Division Executive Board Meeting. I halted abruptly at the station’s curb. I whistled for a cab.

“Welcome to Philadelphia,” a lean, shifty-eyed hack driver tinkled.

“The Pennsylvania Convention Center — find her,” I growled. The hack pursed his lips menacingly, but I stared ahead until he threaded his way there. “Keep the engine hot. My get away may be dicey,” I commanded to a puckered forehead.

The door to Room 300 opened to admit me. Hawkish grins turned my way. “Welcome!” said John DiGilio, the SLA Legal Division’s 2011 Executive Board Chair. “I do not believe that we have met.”

Oh — these birds were cracking foxy. They knew my cut; they suspected that I was no board member. I smiled placidly, and I settled into a chair. I grunted: “Clabaugh. Alyson Clabaugh. SLA Legal Division. New York.”

“We are so glad that you could come. Can I get you something to eat? We have vegetarian and regular sandwiches.” Clearly he planned to grill me between bites. I smiled wolfishly. It would take more than tomato and mozzarella to make me squawk.

While the Executive Board Chair served me lunch, Tracy Maleeff, the SLA Legal Division’s 2011 Executive Board Chair Elect, thrust out her hand. I emptied my Diet Coke and countered her grasp. The talk was small, but her hint was big. This was her town: “I work here in Duane Morris LLP’s Philadelphia office. My Twitter account is LibrarySherpa, and I have been tweeting visitor tips all week. Feel free to contact me if you need anything.”

I proposed: “How about another drink?” I poured a terrific dose of Diet Coke and drained it.

The clock ticked towards high noon. It was time to talk turkey. Egad — if only I could figure out how they were communicating with each other — I could crack this case wide open.

“First, we want to share some surprising statistics. We have recently learned that only half of the division members have joined the SLA Legal Division’s listserv,” said DiGilio. “After the conference, we want to make a real push to get all of our members registered.”

A listserv — so that was their game. There was no more fooling around trying to be clever.

“We see the listerv as a real perk of division membership,” said Constance Ard, the SLA Legal Division’s 2011 Executive Board Past Chair. “We also think that it is a great tool for gauging what we can do for our division. Alyson, we would also love to learn what prompted you to join us today. Our board meetings are open, but general members do not often come. Are you getting what you want out of your membership?”

She had dynamited my cover. She offered a square deal, so I spilled. Then it all tied together — everything. If I wanted to be more involved SLA Legal Division outreach and programming initiatives, all I would have to do is…volunteer.

The SLA Legal Division listserv is a members-only benefit. Adding or renewing division membership is as easy as paying a visit to the SLA website.

Focused on Becoming Future Ready in a New Career

Kelly Amabile | Scholarship Winner |

Kelly Amabile is the Reference Assistant in the Legal Library at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. She is also a graduate student in the GSLIS program at Queens College-CUNY and plans to complete her degree in May 2012.

When I originally applied for a stipend from SLA-NY to attend the 2011 National Conference, I intended to use the experience to explore different areas of the library field and network with professionals. At the time, I was working part-time in several library-related positions and taking MLIS classes at Queens College. As I stated in my stipend application, all of my previous library experience has been in special libraries, including internships at The Horticultural Society of New York and The Metropolitan Museum or Art, as well as paid positions doing archival work for the Girl Scouts and corporate research for a financial start-up firm. All signs indicated a career in special libraries was in my future.

Surprisingly, that career began quicker than I expected and through a series of fortunate events, I accepted a full time position before heading to the conference. Being accepted to receive the SLA stipend actually aided in the process of my landing a job. I attended an SLA-NY happy hour event that recognized recipients of conference stipends and, at that reception, I met a recruiter. I sent her my resume and within a week I had two interviews, followed by two job offers. A few weeks later I accepted a position as the library reference assistant at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. My story proves that membership does indeed have advantages!

Given that I studied political science as an undergraduate student, it seemed to make perfect sense that Skadden was where I wound up. And it excited me to attend the SLA Conference even more, of course with a shifted perspective. I was now fortunate to be attending the conference with two of my new colleagues from Skadden's corporate library.

About six weeks after beginning the job, I arrived in Philadelphia as part of a new team, with a revised focus to learn as much as I could about law librarianship. The best way to start things off at a conference is to talk with people – and that is exactly what the SLA Fellows and First-Timers Meeting on Sunday afternoon gave me the opportunity to do. I ran into familiar SLA-NY colleagues and was greeted by SLA Fellows with many years of experience – it was a balanced mix of new and seasoned professionals that sparked inspiration and energized the conference.

Thomas Friedman, the Opening General Session Speaker, was also very inspirational and certainly a highlight for me. He spoke about the importance of imagination in an age where gadgets do so much thinking for us. His talk was an important reminder that our minds are our most valuable assets – and that we must foster creativity and intuition in order to stay ahead of the curve in our professions and be "Future Ready," which was the theme of the conference.

The way I experienced it, the conference was a packed schedule of three main types of events: educational sessions, networking receptions and visiting with vendors. Here are a few words about each:

Educational Sessions

I attended more than ten sessions during the course of the conference that explored topics such as competitive intelligence, emerging markets, public records, corporate archives and strategies for cost-prevention and adding value in a law firm library. It was interesting to be able to hear from librarians that work at small firms as well as large organizations. I scribbled many notes and took away fantastic ideas and tips.

Networking Receptions

When I wasn't listening to others talk about the profession, I was engaged in conversations about trends and tools. The conference provided a wide variety of opportunities to chat with colleagues. I attended all the receptions for the Legal Division (as well as the BNA Breakfast and Business Meeting), but also went outside my industry group to talk with folks who work in other settings, including business/finance, museums/arts and academic. I also attended wonderful receptions at the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. I met information professionals from all over the U.S. as well as international locations. And I learned that…librarians really like to dance!

Visiting Vendors

Over the course of the conference, I walked the entire exhibit hall with my Skadden colleagues, meeting new vendors and getting introduced to those with which my law firm already has relationships. Doing this with my co-workers was an invaluable experience, since they have worked with these vendors for quite some time and were able to educate me about the work we do with these outside partners.

As usually happens with these busy conferences, I was exhausted at the end and a tad overwhelmed, but it was certainly worth it for the valuable exchange of information I received and all the lovely people I met. I thank SLA-NY for offering me the opportunity to attend and I thank the national organization for creating an excellent event that allows librarians from many backgrounds to collaborate and share ideas that prepare us all to be "Future Ready."