Sunday, June 11, 2006

Arrival at SLA Conference

I arrived in Baltimore today after a ride on Amtrak. The train arrived at my station almost an hour late, but once we got started, it was a quick ride with only a few stops.

My hotel is just a few blocks from the convention center where most of the conference action takes place.

Here's a lesson to remember. You know that letter SLA sends you in the mail with your registration badge and ticketed event slips? Yeah, bring that with you when you register. I did. I went to the Advanced Registration and there was a long line. Then some guy comes over and says, OK, who has the letter with your badge and stuff? I was the only person to raise my hand, so I went to the front of the line. I was registered and on my way in a couple of minutes.

I looked around a bit down the street to see what what there, found a shopping center, and across the street a food court, which was what I was looking for.

Back at the convention center, I went to the vendor hall and looked around. Saw a game show, a wine bar doing plenty of business, free gourmet food, I made conversation with an ebook vendor, and was generally impressed with the size of the hall, which apparently is the largest ever at SLA.

Next was the Opening General Session. The annual SLA awards were given out and each recipient was given a small bronze bust of John Cotton Dana, the founder of SLA. I wish I could have one of those some day, but then I guess I'd have to do something important, that's the tricky part.

The keynote speaker was Gwen Ifill, of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Washington Week. Gwen talked about how important researchers are to her work. Journalism is under assault (but she didn't say from journalists themselves, which is what I'm thinking). She's glad she doesn't have to report on celebrities and the kind of thing you see on CNN and Fox News every night.

One thing that stood out in my mind was her statement that "I got into journalism because I thought I could change the world." And this is exactly the thing that conservatives criticize about today's journalists. This exact statement has been criticized by Rush Limbaugh and probably others, because journalists aren't supposed to change the world; they're supposed to report it and describe it. Gwen, I think I'm safe in saying, is not enamored with conservatives and is a liberal.

She was an engaging speaker and it was a pleasant speech. I can't say the same for many other keynote speeches I've heard at library conferences.

Here are links to my posts at the SLA Conference Blog:

Jackie Desoer

Judith Field

Barbara Beverley

The Scopus Show

Wine Bar

First Timers

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