Kerry Prendergast | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerry Prendergast is the Director of Wildlife Conservation Society Library, Bronx, New York
Attending the SLA conference in New Orleans this year felt very much like the first time I went to one back in the 1980s. Even though I have attended several conferences in between, this one had a different feel for me because of my new position as Library Director at the Wildlife Conservation Society (you might know us as the Bronx Zoo). I was attending as a new librarian because I had not worked in science library before, nor had I ever worked for a non-profit.
I figured I had a lot to learn and attending the conference would be a good place to start. SLA-NY’s generosity made that possible.
My game plan was simple: attend as many science-related sessions as possible, talk to our most important vendors, and network with as many science librarians as possible. I diverged from the plan on a couple of occasions to attend sessions that might not be specifically applicable to my new field or because I ran into old friends and got distracted (that happens a lot at these conferences).
Here are a few of the sessions I attended: Scientific Publishing & the Mobile Revolution, Future of Science Librarianship, Data Curation: Reinventing Science Librarianship, Drupal Use in Libraries, and Nuts & Bolts of Contract Management
Some of the vendor events included: Publish Accurately & Collaborate Easily with EndNote & Researcher ID (Thomson), Gale Cengage Overview, and OCLC Update
Because the Archives at WCS are such an important part of what we do at the WCS Library, I also attended the Archives & Preservation Caucus. It was a good opportunity to meet a few people doing what we are doing. Although it was not heavily attended, I think SLA should consider beefing up this important special library function. More and more students in library schools seem to be interested in archives management as a career and I keep seeing articles about the growth of the profession. One could say that the Society of American Archivists (SAA) already covers archives management but more special librarians are faced with this important task as well.
I also attended the Taxonomy Roundtable and Taxonomy 101. This is another facet of the profession that is becoming more important to my everyday work. I am currently working with our Photo Services department on a digital asset management system they are instituting. I have been guiding them through what taxonomy is and how it is used to ensure maximum access to the digital material. The roundtable was very interesting but perhaps a bit too sophisticated for our needs here at WCS.
In the Exhibit Hall, I had a chance to meet several of our vendors face to face. Because I have not worked with some of these companies before, Elsevier, Springer, etc., this was a good opportunity for me to learn about what they offer and how their products might be beneficial to our scientists. I also spent some time looking at digitizing equipment. Because we have so many older documents and other material that are delicate or brittle, digitizing will be a major component to handling our archives.
It was not all work at the conference. I had a lot of fun meeting lots of other librarians in the science field at the Biomedical and Life Sciences Division 75th anniversary party. EBSCO had a nice cruise on the Mississippi River and the Baseball Caucus had Ron Swoboda of the 1969 World Series Champion New York Mets as its speaker (I am a Yankees fan, but still…). I also got the chance to catch up with old friends and former colleagues.
New Orleans itself was hot and steamy. But it is a great town with lots to do and fabulous restaurants. Do not wait for the next SLA conference there to go.