The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is holding its annual conference in Philadelphia. Although the exhibit hall opened only yesterday afternoon, some of the membership came in earlier for board meetings and continuing education sessions.
For SLA staff, the beginning of the conference for most of the attendees feels like mid-conference, since they’ve been here for days assuring that everything is ready to go. And I have to say (so I will say) that they’ve done a terrific job! My registration experience was the quickest, most seamless I’ve ever enjoyed.
The exhibition hall yesterday afternoon was crowded and attendees were, by and large, upbeat. I spent an enlightening hour at the LexisNexis booth (#411) walking through their company dossier product, which will be the topic of my next ONLINE column. I now realize, however, that I need to go back and learn about their newer product offerings. A new (to SLA) exhibitor is Material Connexion (booth #841) which has the most interesting samples of actual advanced materials and a novel definition of library. Ask them about the sample made from shredded counterfeit money.
Swag alert: Cool buttons are at the Leadership Directory booth (#1521). Yesterday I was wearing Library Nerd, may go with Caffeinated Librarian today.
I also had a very interesting meeting with EBSCO, whose representative pointed out to me that the counts between full text journals in the Wilson and EBSCO databases when they merge to form super databases include new journals not currently in either company’s databases and that customers will have a choice as to whether their libraries will subscribe to the super databases or not.
I also spent some time learning about products from Arabia Inform, which I now realize is not in the Info-Expo guide, so I’m not sure of the booth number, but it’s over toward the 200 aisle. Their monitoring of the political and business situation in the Middle East should be of great value to many of the SLA attendees.
I love having Sunday afternoon in the exhibit hall, undisturbed by competing information sessions. Today I’ll be splitting my time between the exhibits and sessions.
My NewsBreak on the acquisition of H.W. Wilson by EBSCO is now live at the InfoToday website.
Some of the press releases about the acquisition described it as a “merger.” It’s not. EBSCO bought Wilson and made it a division of EBSCO Publishing. The Wilson offices in the Bronx and in Dublin (Ireland) will close. The databases will move to EBSCOhost and WilsonWeb will close down.
As someone who started her library career when people actually consulted printed indexes (yes, in book form!) to start their research, I have always been a bit concerned that Wilson seemed perpetually late to the technology party. While I was entranced by Dialog, Orbit, and other early online search services, Wilson kept trying to sell me books. Now, granted, once they did recognize that electronic delivery was going to trump print, they did a bang-up job. Text to speech, for example, is fantastic.
Here’s hoping that EBSCO preserves the best parts of the Wilson technology, indexing, and databases — without onerous price increases that will prevent libraries from enjoying said preservation.
Personally, I’ll miss seeing the Wilson booth at conferences and chatting with Wilson staff.
My new word for the day is “maptivism.” I discovered this in a blog post about digital mapping. OK, I didn’t just “find” it. In the typical social media information seeking mode that predominates these days, I was pointed to it by a Twitter post from Kevin Anderson @kevglobal, who will be a keynote speaker at Internet Librarian International this coming October.
But I digress. Nancy Scola, who wrote the blog post, gives many examples of how maps enhance our understanding of the news and of statistics. A map can make truths visible that aren’t so obvious from the rows and columns of a spreadsheet. The post is replete with map examples, from Japan after the earthquake to US school systems.
It strikes me that the biggest change in map making is interactivity. I used to rely on AAA for road maps. They were large, unwieldy and annoying. Now I use online maps, where I can zoom in and out, get directions and print just the part I need on one sheet of paper. I’m sure I’m not alone. But the ability to create maps, that maptivism thing, adds a new dimension to the work that information professionals do.
In that vein, I’m looking forward to Chris Sherman’s talk at WebSearch University where he’ll talk about maps. I’m wondering if he’ll declare himself a maptivist?