SLA (aka Special Libraries Association) is holding its 101st annual conference in New Orleans. Attendance is nowhere near the numbers we saw in Washington DC, which will have some serious impacts on the financial condition of the association. We’ll hear more about that at the annual business meeting this afternoon.
It’s a shame, really, because SLA members who are here are learning a lot and the exhibitors had so much to demonstrate. From the still-warm beignets at the Financial Times booth (fresh every day from Cafe du Monde!) to Factiva‘s “Factinis” (in a breathtaking shade of blue), exhibitors did their level best to entice SLA conference goers into their booths. The FT has a iPad version that is fascinating–and has just (on June 8th) won a design award from Apple for the app. This is a major accomplishment, as there were only 5 winners worldwide. Congrats, pink paper!
As for buzz at SLA, I’d have to say it was around platforms. Many vendors were showing either a new platform or a prototype for a new platform. Ovid has one, Dialog has one almost completed, and ProQuest‘s will follow Dialog’s.
Factiva has added many new sources and plans to expand its language capabilities from the 23 it presently has. Westlaw was showing its Westlaw Next product (reviewed by Amy Affelt in the May/June 2010 issue of ONLINE) and LexisNexis is rolling out its new Academic interface.
I could go on and on, detailing all the interesting and innovative products on display at SLA, but that laundry list would probably bore everybody to tears. The advantage to conferences like this one is the opportunity to see all these vendors in one place, be introduced to features and products with which you’re unfamiliar, get to know the people at the companies (which really gives you an edge in contract negotiation), and update yourself on what’s new that will benefit you and the organization you work for.
The exhibit hall closed yesterday but today there are still sessions, plus the annual business meeting and closing keynote by Nicholas Carr.
I stopped by the LexisNexis booth for a demo of their new product for public libraries, called Library Express. It looks just like their Academic product, but with slightly reduced content. There are buttons for Legal (case law, statutes, codes, regulations, patents and law school directories), Business (which is Company Dossier), and News (Nexis’ full text newspapers, journals, magazines, broadcast news and wire services). At the booth, they told me they intend for Library Express to be a "long term program to introduct public libraries to LexisNexis content." In other words, it’s an attempt to push LN content at public libraries rather than ask public libraries what content they need that they don’t have now. Several librarians told me that the legal information is nice, but usually they simply send patrons with serious legal research needs down the street to the county law library. The interface is slick, but the question is whether public libraries need another aggregator of information. Since Library Express is brand new, we’ll have to wait until public librarians have a chance to test it out. 30-day free trials are available.
I had a demonstration a few hours ago on the new interface for LexisNexis Academic. The beta logo came off the page only this morning! It looks very nice, more like the new Nexis interface introduced a couple of years ago. Easy search can support advanced search strategies, ones with Boolean and proximity and segment limitations and the like, while Power search is straight Nexis. LN Academic has added some legal information, such as Shephard’s, law reviews, and Federal and state cases. Company Dossier is now there but not Industry Dossier. There’s a language limit from a dropdown menu and I learned LN has two sources from Finland! I searched for “sauna” and filled the screen with Finnish. LN Smart Indexing is refreshed every quarter, which is particularly useful for geography. For example, everything that had been indexed as “Soviet Union” is now indexed “Russia.” I probably need to look into this further, since some of the states that made up the union of soviet socialist republics probably would prefer to be indexed under their own names: Just think Poland, Latvia, or Kazakhstan.