Kelly Amabile | Scholarship Winner | http://www.linkedin.com/in/kamabile
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:
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.
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!
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."