SLA NY Conference & Expo: a mid-career professional’s perspective

By Jeanine McPartlin

I have recently become involved in conference planning with SLA NY and LLAGNY (Law Library Association of Greater New York). As a member of the LLAGNY Education Committee, I assisted with organizing the conference we held this past January. Some of my responsibilities included scheduling speakers, researching topics by reading industry journals and attending the conference to troubleshoot with technical issues. I have worked in both legal and corporate research jobs and found that skills in both environments are not mutually exclusive because information needs may overlap. For instance, a law firm library may want SEC filings, and a corporate library may want to track down a docket from the Delaware Chancery Court.

One of the great things about attending events such as the SLA Conference and Expo is that you get to meet interesting people and stay current. With respect to conference programming, I am particularly interested in the Speed Mentoring Session to learn more about the implementation of best practices in mentors’ home libraries and in listening to keynote speaker Jill Strand share her thoughts on trends in the information professions.

Because I believe that marketing a library, its resources, and services in ways that make sense to users is important for survival within an organization, I also think the marketing aspect of the conference should be interesting and very useful. As an information professional, I feel like I constantly have to justify my value and work to an organization, where my time is billed to the client. I have to explain why the firm needs a librarian by clarifying the importance of value added research, knowing the correct database to answer a particular question, and time management. Organizations need to understand why simply having someone just “google something” on the Internet is not an adequate solution to their information needs. Not everything is available on the Internet or databases such as Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw.