I have spent the past week in New Orleans at the annual Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference. This year, although the number were down a little, the program was fantastic. This is especially true of the Knowledge Management (KM) Division and the International Caucus sessions which I try very hard not to miss.

The KM Division was lucky to engage Patrick Lambe of Straits Knowledge as our keynote speaker. Patrick’s presentation on Knowledge Continuity and Opportunities was a great hit with the audience. Unfortunately I was chairing the International Caucus session and had to miss this one. However, the International Caucus session speakers were Dr Geoff Walton from the UK and Dr Harish Chandra from India – both of whom presented excellent papers on the theme Information Services in Transition : a global debate.

Patrick Lambe presented a second session for the new Taxonomies Division on the second day titled Taxonomies and New Technologies which was one of my favourites for the conference. Patrick successfully put taxonomies in plain English and what they mean for the business and KM and it was a very popular session.  I loved overhearing a member of the audience come up to him after and say it had been the best session of the conference so far.

I also managed to fit in running a Continuing Education course on Evaluation of library/information services using narrative techniques.  This program was conducted on the Saturday before the conference with the wonderful Anne Rogers from Cargill who did the course when Karen Huffman and I ran it in 2009.  The course was a hit with our participants and from the evaluation forms it seems that it was also enjoyed by all.

However, I think overall it was one of the speakers at the International Breakfast that really engaged me best of all. Dr Sohair Walawy from the Library of Alexandria (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) in Egypt gave one of the most impressive sessions I have heard yet. What really had me captivated was her description of the first library (the ancient library of Alexandria) and how it was not a collection of materials but a meeting place for knowledge sharing. This is something we need to embrace in the modern world and see our libraries as not just collections but meeting places where our librarians act as brokers for knowledge sharing.

My role this year has been slightly different in that not only I am past Chair of the KM Division but I am also a nominee for Director on the SLA Board.  I spent quite a bit of time networking and getting to know people (not that I don’t do this as a general rule – as those of you who have met me know – I am a superconnector when it comes to meeting new people and engaging in networking opportunities).

Overall it was a very successful conference and we now have Philadelphia to look forward to in 2011.