The End of SLA 2011: The Future Starts Now
The SLA 2011 Annual Conference in Philadelphia has been over for two days. Now, for all of us who attended and participated, the hard work starts. The theme was “Future Ready,” and if you made the most of your time, you are better placed to face the future than you were a week ago. My contribution was Creating Your Future the Peter Drucker Way, a Wednesday morning “Spotlight Session.” There was a sense of coming full circle: a number of people raised their hand when I asked how many had attended Drucker’s keynote at the SLA Annual Conference in Los Angeles in 2002. Although I had to miss this year’s closing keynote speaker, James Kane, I found Sunday’s opening keynote by Thomas Friedman to be highly interesting and relevant for information professionals. I drew a combination of information and inspiration from Friedman and many of the other presenters, including Larry Prusak, Guy St. Clair, James Matarazzo/Toby Pearlstein and Joe Murphy/Scott Brown, whose “60 Apps in 60 Minutes” was a supercharged look at apps that can inform and enrich our personal and professional lives. There was not time to do everything (for instance, I missed the presentation by the always-interesting Stephen Abram) or to talk to everyone. But I still became friends with many interesting people and renewed friendships with others. For the second straight year, people could “virtually” participate. And I assign the students in The Special Library/Information Center, the class I teach at The Catholic University School of Library Information Science, to monitor the conference online, after the fact, and to interview two people who attended, for one of their major papers. Whether you participate in person or online, or during or after the conference itself, the big takeaways for me are that the future can be bright for information professionals who find the proper mix of the technological and the personal, and who can apply the human touch (including Prusak’s admonition about using good judgment) while taking advantage of relevant tools. All of this is hard work that demands creativity and perseverance. SLA members and other knowledge workers have the important, ongoing task of creating the future, beginning with the actions we take today.